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

May 20, 2011

"When Your Partner's Other Partner Isn't So Great"

The Stranger (Seattle)

Mistress Matisse, alt-newspaper columnist on kink and poly relationships, addresses a topic at the heart of the human condition. And the topic of many a poly discussion group.

Coping When Your Partner's Other Partner Isn't So Great

Will Rogers famously remarked that he never met a man he didn't like. However, I'm pretty sure Will Rogers wasn't polyamorous. So what happens when you're happily polyamorous, your partner — with your blessing — starts dating someone new, and you realize that you do not like this person?

It's a tricky situation. People committed to the ideals of open romantic relationships may feel they're betraying their principles by disliking their partner's other partners. (Let's call them POPs for short.) Polyamory certainly goes more smoothly when everyone gets along. But two perfectly nice people, both loved by a third person, can sometimes be just too different (or, just as often, too much alike) to be close friends.

...My only advice is the obvious: Tell your partner how you feel, but recognize these are your feelings and your responsibility. Be polite to your POP in social situations, but minimize time spent in close company. (Your partner should give full cooperation in this.)...

I do have a strategy around preventing negative feelings from happening in the first place: not too much, not too soon. Yes, it's nice to meet the people your partner is dating. But some polyamory literature strongly suggests spending lots of quality time with you.... One gets the impression that poly people are damn-near obligated to welcome new POPs by love-bombing them like [they're] a Moonies recruit. I disagree.

...Once I'm used to the fact of the new POP, then I get to know him/her just as I would anyone else: slowly, organically, without any assumptions of intimacy. I think feeling that one must immediately like the new person as much as one's partner does is what breeds resentment and then dislike....

Read her whole article (May 17, 2011).

Me, I've always yearned for my metamours to be available for true closeness. But if you fail to grasp that this is not always realistic or desirable, you are carrying a dangerous load of Geek Social Fallacy #4 and need to learn your way out of it for the good of everyone around you.

Even when I encountered Stranger in a Strange Land as a kid, I realized that its ideal of "catenative assemblage" (a legal term that Mike found in Jubal's law library: a partner of yours becomes a partner of mine) might work for Martians and angels but not for humans. One of my beefs with Heinlein....

It took me a while longer to decide that this was not only reality, it was also okay.




Anonymous Howard the Duck said...

You can choose to keep a polite distance from a metamour whom you discover you dislike, but I disagree that a bad feeling about someone is necessarily just "your feelings and your responsibility." Maybe you're seeing something real about the person that your NRE-dazzled mate is missing.

I think you need to be willing and able to express your observations to your partner. I know several poly people who value their long-term partners' judgments about a new person, and say these have usually proven in the long run to be more objective and correct than their own.

Of course, if your partner goes ahead with an iffy person anyway, I'd back off and let them make their own mistakes -- consistent with safe sex, not having your TV stolen by the person's junkie friends, etc. etc.

May 20, 2011 2:07 PM  
Anonymous Dan Q said...

I've always liked to keep my lovers' lovers close, and it's usually been pretty easy because the people my partners are attracted to are usually at least a _little_ bit like me, and I'm pretty fond of myself. It's not always easy, but being polite and civil goes a long way even if you're not going to be your POP's best buddy.

May 25, 2011 10:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm the newest to my 2 poly relationships. I can get along quite well with partner #1's wife, but not with his other GF who was there almost 2 years before me. It stems around her lack of wanting to build relationships with anyone.....in all aspects of her life.....and because she has blatantly stated numerous times she does not care what our mutual guy wants, needs, or desires. How can you be so callous to someone's needs and yet expect that all your needs and demands (yes, demands) be met?

Then again, he does deliver or cower to that behavior and feed it....so perhaps I should be looking for someone who is not so easily manipulated by someone who doesn't value him. His wife is also extremely selfish. Although, she does at least realize how much he does for her....even if she does exploit it.

Hmmm, this was a good vent for me....seeing it written out has helped me work it out better in my head. thanks!

June 09, 2011 5:42 PM  

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