I'm not answering a question today, I'm asking one. I hope you'll allow me this liberty, and share with me your thoughts.
We are human, you and I. Our partners are human; our metamours are human. Even our exes are human, (though I know it may be irksome to acknowledge in some cases.) We battle insecurities, and our own demons, and we bring those battles into our profoundly human relationships. This is who we are. Wouldn't you agree? There are several excellent books about how to deal with conflict in poly relationships and as we educate ourselves, I think we strive to communicate clearly and often, to check in and speak up, to ask for what we want. We work hard to "own our own shit", as Cunning Minx would say. We face our jealousies, and process our emotions. We work quite hard to do this well -- and it is not easy.
We also work to give room, to those about whom we care. I have partners who process internally, and need time to think about their feelings and responses to a disagreement, or an unmet expectation. I process externally, and want to talk things through and get them resolved as quickly as possible. My partners and I make an effort to compromise. I have certain insecurities, and triggers that catch me off guard. I say and do things I later regret. My partners are the same. We make room for these issues, these work-in-progress growing efforts. We apologize; we forgive; we love. This is the nature of relationship.
Cunning Minx has developed a smart and effective tool for partners and potential partners in relationships, she calls the User Manual. Tristan Taormino's, Opening Up is filled with questions that can equip couples inviting new partners into their lives. Franklin Veaux and Eve Rickert offer us a toolkit for dealing with hot-button issues such as jealousy and miscommunication, as well as a framework for relationship design. These resources and others are, for many of us, the groundwork for building strong, resilient, rewarding lives, loving each other. Still, questions come up, and we rely on the wisdom and experience of our community in making sense of these.
And thus, I pose my question: If you have an existing partner, who sometimes feels jealous, or insecure -- perhaps he has triggers that present when you begin dating someone new. Maybe she is cautious, just beginning to accept your polyamorous heart. Possibly he was recently burned by your bad experience with an ex. -- when you meet a new love interest, how do you say to this shiny new-to-you person, "This won't always be easy," because of this existing partner?
In light of these thoughts, I've recently been thinking about my metamours. I'm blessed and lucky to have Biker Dude's girlfriend, Tea Lady in my life. She's supportive, and encouraging, and was recently the innocent bystander while, when they were spending the weekend together, Biker Dude and I had a miscommunication that triggered him. She rode out the storm by his side, listened and encouraged, helped him calm down, and treated me gently in the process. This miscommunication occurred while I was on a date with a wonderful couple I'm beginning to adore. In terms of when and how the interaction happened, it was unexpected and unavoidable. If we'd communicated more clearly, it might not have happened at all, but here we were, in the middle of a brief, intense exchange, and my companions were visibly affected. Who could blame them? I cringed and my heart sank.
Today, while wrestling with this question, I thought of Minx's User Manual... I love the idea of sharing my box of skeletons with someone... letting them peek at my baggage, and learn about my triggers, so that they might better know how to respond when the "new" wears off. I think perhaps it would also be helpful, to say to a new love, in the most respectful and honoring way: "This my other partner, your (potential) metamour. He is human; he has this baggage, and these insecurities. She will occasionally need space to process things like jealousy, or fear. I believe as you and I grow together, we will make room for each other, we will forgive, and we will be gentle. I'm asking you to give my partner(s) space to be human too. Because, the truth is this will sometimes be a bumpy ride."
I'm intensely curious, dear reader... what are your thoughts?
With plenty of ink and love,
Eight Things I wish I'd Known About Polyamory: Before I Tried it and Frakked it Up by Cunning Minx
Opening Up: A Guide to Creating and Sustaining Open Relationships by Tristan Taormino
More than Two: A practical guide to ethical polyamory, by Franklin Veaux and Eve Rickert