Poly musings: on her others

I’ve been having a lot of conversations lately about about polyamory, partners with other relationships, and what it means to be okay with that. What we’re supposed to be feeling about all of this.

One of the biggest things, you see, about being in a Non-Traditional Relationship(TM) is that it can be difficult to work out what you’re supposed to feel at a given point in time. This is, by the way, as much of a feature as it is a bug- working without a script leaves immense freedom to make things up as you go along and to shape what you’re doing to the needs and preferences of the actual people involved. It’s awesome enough that I’d advise throwing the script away to the rest of you as well. Write your own damn scripts. They’ll probably fit you better.

But having no script also makes life difficult at times, especially when you’re in situations that are generally considered to be Bad News. Like, say, being in a relationship with a person who is also involved with a couple of other people. There’s only two social scripts for how to deal with that- jealousy and denial- and neither of them really fit a situation where everyone involved not only know about each other, but really like each other. Ladyfriend’s other partners are awesome, by the way.

But y’know what? I don’t generally think much about the details of Ladyfriend’s other relationships. I’m most invested in her relationship with BFF, but that’s mainly because BFF being in happy relationships is the kind of thing that, well, a BFF makes it her business to take note of. The thing is, though, that I see Ladyfriend’s other relationships in much the same way.

I know they’re there. I’ve met everyone and I like them all a lot. I try to be considerate and facilitate them as much as I can- making sure that if visits overlap, say, everyone gets to spend time together one-on-one as well as hanging out as a group. And if Ladyfriend has a new crush or a date with someone new or even a new relationship, I do care a lot about meeting them, getting to know them, keeping up to date on how she feels about them and the new thing she has going on, working out what our agreements are going to be and if anything needs to change.

Once relationships are established, though? I don’t think a huge amount about what they entail. It doesn’t seem to be much of my business or to affect me any more than, say, Ladyfriend’s relationship with her close platonic friends, or her music or artwork. Ladyfriend’s other relationships get categorised in my head as “stuff that’s important to Ladyfriend that I should take into account”, and I pretty much toddle on about my business.

I don’t dwell on her other relationships. I don’t have any problem with them. I don’t collapse into Feels Of Adorable whenever I think about her and her others- although I have been known to have an “awwwww” moment or three when we’re hanging out. I do ship them all, after all. But generally I’m just stupendously okay and- here’s a thing- I don’t give her other relationships a massive amount of thought.

This isn’t saying, by the way, that I ignore them. Like I said, they’re all lovely people who I am really happy have great relationships with Ladyfriend. It also, by the way, helps that she really does seem to have exceptionally good taste in people. Bit of an ego-boost for Yours Truly, that one is.

I don’t ignore them, but I don’t really think about the relationships themselves either. And sometimes I wonder if I put myself under too much pressure in this to be some other kind of ‘okay’. As if by not being particularly bothered either way by her other relationships I’m somehow in denial about it all? Maybe I should be thinking more about them? Maybe I’m deeply not-okay with the situation but I don’t want to admit it to myself?

Or maybe, of course, we live in a deeply monocentric society that assumes that poly situations must be ones that need to be dwelled on and overanalysed. That my partner’s other partners are somehow people who should take a greater amount of my mental processing than her close friends or her family. And that if they don’t, there must be something up. That I must be harbouring some secret jealousy eating away at me, or living in some kind of denial so deeply-rooted that even I can’t see it.

But y’know something? I’m pretty sure it’s just fine. We’re just fine.


13 thoughts on “Poly musings: on her others

  1. I find your posts about polyamory fascinating -such a different approach to relationships!

    • I’m glad you like! I’m never sure whether this relationship stuff is interesting to people aside from us poly geeks who spend way too much time thinking about it all. Good to hear it’s interesting to at least one other person 😉

  2. For what it’s worth, I have a really similar sort of emotional relationship with my partner’s other partners. They’re all lovely people, and one of them is *also* a really good friend of mine. But beyond being vaguely happy that they seem to make him happy, and liking that he’s getting to have awesome other relationships, (and as long as our relationship isn’t negatively impacted) I’m generally not concerned about any of it all that much, either.

    • Yay! Another data point!

      Living where I do the poly community is really small, and the amount of local poly people I’m friends with is, of course, even smaller. Sometimes it feels like reinventing the wheel every day, y’know? So knowing that other people feel similarly is both lovely and reassuring.

  3. It really is just fine. 🙂

    I do things a little differently, but I think it’s because of how my relationships are set up, and who I and my partners are. I like to know as much as possible about my partners’ lives, and I find relationships fascinating in general, so that leads to my loving to hear about their other partners in as much detail as everyone’s okay with sharing. Also, since I’m planning to move in with my boyfriend and his wife, his relationship with his wife is directly important to me, and therefore it’s also important to my other boyfriend, who I would like to live with or closer to someday.

    So for the most part, I don’t agonize over their other relationships and I’m not actively cheering them on or bursting with compersion all the time. But I think about their relationships as a part of the picture of who they are, just like I think about their jobs, and their friends, and their favorite hobbies.

  4. I am a little confused and I hope you don’t mind me asking a question.
    Do you also have other lady and male friends? or is it just the one lady friend who has other relationships?
    This was a very intresting read thanks!

    • No problem! Although I’m open to other relationships, at the moment I am involved with only Ladyfriend. She has other relationships as well, and so do they. I guess in a way I’m the odd one out in our little poly network!

  5. This is exactly how I feel about my lovers’ lovers. Well put indeed.

    It’s funny – last night I was lucky enough to get a fair amount of “my people” together for the first time: it was my best friend, my girlfriend, and another lady I am very interested in dating….

    … and they all got along so well it was almost terrifying. :p

  6. I’m always very interested in what people want in a relationship, (fe)males both have different needs in a relationship. I enjoy discussions about these needs with my family, friends and the people they are dating. I have been in poly relationships and may be in one again now 😉
    I would like to read a blog post from you about the different needs of (fe)males in a “traditional” m/f relationship and a poly relationship be it m/f/m/… f/m/f/… or (some other combination) …
    As a group of ENTP/INTP’Ss our consensus is that (subconsciously) humans want to reproduce.
    For females this means max 10 children so they look for the strongest male by the criteria of wealth, strength or potential to mate with and the strongest or wealthiest (fe)male to have a relationship with to provide for the offspring.
    For males this means “unlimited” children but a preference for healthy females “and a relationship until they can move to a new port”.
    This is our analysis of m/f relationships but we never tired to discuss poly relationships.

  7. Though I’m not poly, I love your idea of throwing the script away. I’m in my first relationship for years and there’s so much expectation on us to follow the scripts that I’m finding great joy in discovering that the parts of the script deemed mandatory (such as marriage and babies) which make me uncomfortable also do the same to him. We’re basically finding our own way to be happy together, which mostly seems to involve lots of cuddling and nerdiness!

    You and your Ladyfriend’s relationships sound utterly lovely, and I wish everyone involved all the best.

  8. I think I’d find it too much effort to have more than one boyf/girlf!! I can’t spread my attention that far.
    But then I wonder if your partner(s) are ones you consider to be in live with and intend on being with 4evaaa? Does/would that make things any different? I imagine more casual relationships would be easier to maintain?
    I guess you Poly’s must be quite independent.

    I completely agree with rebelling fro, the arbitrary list of do’s and don’t’s you suddenly have put on you once you’re in a relationship. It really puts a lot of pressure on you as a couple. I mostly blame “women’s magazines” (5 year plan, how to keep your man, does he really love you etc etc).

    How/when did you discuss that you were in a poly-relationship? X

  9. I love reading your poly posts. Thank you 🙂

  10. Seconding the comment that the idea of throwing the script out is a great one.

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