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Emotions happen, so what ...


(I wrote this on February 1, 2002)

There is an interesting method out there, in the world, for criticizing people ... a method in which idealistic or controlling people pick on others (or themselves) for having (or expressing) difficult emotions.

"You shouldn't feel so [insert emotion here]" or even "I shouldn't feel so [insert emotion here]"

Maybe the offending emotion is insecurity, or fear, or pride, or anger, or satisfaction, or sadness, or ... whatever emotion somebody thinks we shouldn't feel.

That whole "boys don't cry" thing ...

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In the world of polyamorous relationships, newcomers or observers might idealistically think that poly people don't ever feel jealous or insecure, that poly people don't have needs, or that "anything goes" in poly relationships.

In my experience, and from my reading, poly people have all the same emotions that monogamous people have. Poly people, though, have to find different ways of dealing with their jealousies, insecurities, fears, and sadnesses ... they can't just tell their partners to stop flirting, to stop having sex with other people, or to drop their other romantic relationships.

Many poly partners work out agreements or understandings to help each other cope with their negative emotions. Many poly people find themselves using a different kind of vocabulary to express their emotions -- they use "I" instead of "you", to take responsibility for their emotions without blaming others. They may ask for help rather than demanding it, knowing that their partners must juggle other relationships and commitments besides their own.

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Not all people who try poly relationships will be able to construct working models with their initial partners. Compatibility matters across many more dimensions than (1) a willingness to have more partners, or (2) a willingness to share partners. In my first open relationship I was unable/unwilling to create the structures that my partner needed to feel secure. He was often very angry, especially toward the end, because our relationship wasn't meeting his needs.

I could have reacted by saying, "You shouldn't feel so jealous. You shouldn't feel so insecure." I could have labeled him, diagnosed him, designated him as the source of the problem. Instead, I did try to work with him on these issues. Unfortunately, after a while, we spent most of our limited time together dealing with issues, and had little time left for fun. Eventually he gave up on me, amidst great anger and frustration.

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Ah, well ... I sure would hate to be in a relationship where my partner(s) blamed me for having emotions. I find that things work out much better when we express all our feelings and search for ways to make everybody more comfortable.

Y'know ... there is nothing wrong with me, and there is nothing wrong with you, just as we are.


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