Poly rules couples use
Alt-columnist Mistress Matisse lists 20 dating-and-mating rules that poly couples of her acquaintance have agreed to follow. Or not.
What I’m giving you here are not Official Poly Rules You Must Obey. They are simply examples of the kinds of things you might agree to. Hopefully these will provide you with a jumping-off place for your own discussion.
• Certain days/times are always reserved for us to be together alone.
• We agree to use safer sex practices, and we specify exactly what that means.
• I must approve your new partner before you sleep with him/her.
• We’re a package deal we only date/have sex as a couple.
• No sexual behavior with other people in front of me....
...As you can see, you won’t adopt all these rules, and they speak to very different ways of being poly. And no matter what rules you set, if you keep doing poly, they will evolve and change as you gain experience. When you’re first venturing into new territory, having rules can make people feel safer. Eventually, however, most poly rules wind up being made to be broken but only when you both want them to be.
Read the whole list (Oct. 31, 2007).
Frankly, to me some of them sound more explosive than the problems they're supposed to prevent. Boundaries are good to declare and respect but fears and insecurities need to be addressed at their root, say I, and rules that you set up to protect your fears and insecurities should be seen as temporary band-aids, not as cures. And be aware that an un-aired wound under a band-aid may fester.
On the other hand, here are six sound agreements, IMHO:
• Communicate everything all around that might be important to the relationship.
• If you're afraid to say it, that means you should say it (tip o' the hat to Marcia Baczynski).
• Listening is to be done in a respectful way that encourages further divulging.
• Any agreement that is in effect is not to be broken, period.
• Any agreement can be opened for rediscussion at any time. (And the agreements should be reviewed periodically at the start of every even-numbered month? regardless.)
• Anyone may end an agreement unilaterally by leaving the relationship. (This is simple reality, but good to spotlight upfront.)
Oh yes, take notes and save them where all parties can find and reread them in a pinch.