"Defining the Relationship"
Huffington Post College
Romance and sparking used to come in just a few assumed forms ("first comes love, then comes marriage..."), and woe unto you if you broke someone's assumptions. Or they broke yours.
But now an ethic of DTR — a need to "define the relationship" explicitly early on, rather than assuming stuff — may be taking hold among the next generation. If so, we're in good shape. And, certain poly-activist movers & shakers reading this can take credit for helping to make it happen.
How to DTR (Define-The-Relationship)
By Nadia Cho
Student, University of California/ Berkeley
...I genuinely like all of my partners and would like to spend more time with them in the future. However, I don't want to be in an exclusive, monogamous relationship with one person right now. After clearly expressing this sentiment to all of my partners, I've been having a lot of great, honest conversations. Openly communicating my relationship preferences allows me to set boundaries effectively and better understand exactly how I want my relationships to be.
It's important for non-exclusive partners to have dialogue about their respective relationship preferences. Heartbreak comes from a discrepancy in intentions and expectations. So when partners don't DTR, it can be destructive for their relationship when one partner discovers the other is sleeping with a third party.
...I asked a good friend of mine who is a polyamorous relationship guru about the process of telling new potential partners that she isn't monogamous. She told me that during the first conversation of the first date she clearly explains what partners can expect from her: how much time she has available, how she practices her relationships and her commitment to seeing other people.
Be upfront with new partners about what boundaries and dynamics you desire, as well as those you are comfortable with. Don't assume that partners can't handle the truth, and don't let the fact that they might not like it keep you from being honest with yourself....
...Another eye-opening insight my polyamorous friend gave me is that there are different degrees of relationships. The monogamy paradigm makes it seem like people can only either be together or not at all.... Just because two people aren't in a relationship in the prevailing monogamous way, doesn't mean their relationship isn't valid or special....
Read the whole article (Dec. 21, 2012).