Polyamory in the News!
. . . by Alan M.

November 15, 2007

Poly rules couples use

The Stranger (Seattle)

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.




Blogger Unknown said...

I think you have a pretty good list to start from. :^)

Interestingly, we just presented a workshop (at the SF Loving More Loving Choices Seminar) on the topic of Agreements. For that workshop, I went looking for some more examples of agreements (besides our own). I saw Mistress Matisse's article, but decided to use a similar (but I felt clearer and more powerful) list from http://www.biresource.org/pamphlets/nonmonogamy.html.

Here's a link to a tweaked-for-the-web version of our outline for the Creating Empowering Relationship Agreements workshop:

and here is a link to the Additional Relationship and Safer Sex Agreements handout:
http://www.mandalaenterprises.com/handouts/AgreementsWorkshopHandouts/MoreRelationshipAgreements.htm .

[I just made those html versions tonight, so if they don't work for some reason, please let me know and I'll try to fix 'em up.]

November 15, 2007 2:01 AM  
Blogger Alan said...

Thanks to Dawn for those links. Here they are in clickable form:
BiResource Nonmonogamy pamphlet
Creating Agreements workshop
Additional/ Safer Sex handout

As relationship coaches, she and her partner Akien have seen a lot more of what works and doesn't than I have.

November 15, 2007 7:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Awww... thanks Alan! :)

-Marcia B

November 15, 2007 9:27 PM  
Blogger Amanda Earl said...

my partner and i had all kinds of rules at the beginning of opening up our relationship; we found that for us most simply didn't work; neither one of us likes rules and when faced with them, we would simply rebel. instead we have one basic principal: we must communicate honestly and openly with one another. that's it. we trust each other to do the right thing and to love one another. that's about all we can do.

November 16, 2007 2:52 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

We basically have 4 rules:

1) Don't be stupid.
2) Keep each other fully informed.
3) We each have an absolute veto.
4) Use condoms for intercourse.

[We ramble on about them at length on our/my blog here if anyone's interested.]


February 27, 2008 4:54 PM  
Anonymous Dawn Davidson said...

Hey Alan: I was doing some research for my book-in-progress on Agreements, and I noticed that the links I provided 5 years ago are all now broken. :( The good news is you can access much of this stuff in my Workbook entries on my blog:

This entry links to several examples of Agreements: http://blog.unchartedlove.com/?p=1767
including the ones in the pamphlet I referenced in my first comment (now unavailable from biresource.org, unfortunately).

And this one is the Table of Contents, which is essentially an outline of the "Ten Tips for Making Agreements": http://blog.unchartedlove.com/?p=671


October 26, 2012 6:22 PM  

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