Laurie Ellington, Poly-Coach, Offers Coaching Tips for Open Relationships, Polyamorous Relationships, Poly Dating, and Ethical Non-Monogamy.
Here’s an interesting situation that was taken from a recent Poly Coach Session:
I was talking with a polyamorous relationship coaching client the other day. They were struggling with communication. The main desire for the session was to talk about agreements and boundaries in their open relationship.
The story went like this
They had a conversation about wanting to get together one night, and how they could make that happen. One of them (Person A) had plans with a poly girlfriend (Person B), and so wanted to keep plans with her, as well as meet meet up with his primary partner (Person C). When they talked about what that might look like Person C gave a time to Person A. Person A wanted more time with Person B. Person A and C began to negotiate, and arrived at said time, which was later than what Person C wanted, however, she was willing to agree with it. So they did.
As the night went on, so did the time. Person A was set on making the agreement with Person C and felt confident he could do so at the time the agreement was made. This did not happen however. What happened was Person A arrived over an hour late, with no communication whatsoever to Person C. When Person C expressed anger towards Person A, Person A was offended and said it was no big deal.
When we look at agreements, any kind of agreement, but especially agreements in open relationships and polyamory, we need to be really clear with what we want, what we can deliver on, and what will happen if the agreement changes, or in worst case scenario, the agreement is broken.
Here’s what came out of that polyamorous coaching session:
*** Both people are responsible for putting their wants, needs, desires, on the table. It’s worth noting that even though you put them out there, they might not be met. However, the chances of getting your needs and desires met increases dramatically when you share them.
*** Both people are responsible in sharing what options they see, which ones they are certain will work, which ones won’t, and which ones may work with a few adjustments.
*** When it’s time to make an agreement, do so with the utmost of clarity. If you say you’re going to do something, then do it. If something happens and you need to adjust, then communicate with your partner(s) as soon as possible. This gives the other person a choice to adjust what they want to do with the change. If you find out you can no longer keep an agreement at all, then tell the other person as soon as possible. Explain what happened, what’s changed, and be clear with why, and what you plan to do to remedy the situation. If you find your reasoning is more of an excuse, then back up, check in with what you really desire, and what choices you are making to meet that desire in a healthy way.
If an agreement is made: Celebrate! You both acted in accord with what’s important, what is of value for yourselves and for each other.
If an agreement is broken: Take the time to look at what happened, as objectively as possible. Consider the following questions: “Was I asking too much? Where my expectations too high? Was I clear in with my “yes” and with my “no”. What could I/we have done differently? Moving forward how can we set ourselves up for success?”
If you are really committed to being in the open and poly lifestyle, then commit to learning and practicing effective communication skills. You will be grateful you did.