The subject of agreements is an important one when dealing with poly partners. With so many people in the mix, things often get confusing. Agreements create containers of clarity and understanding for everyone involved.
Here’s an example of how I address agreements in with my clients:
The names used below are fictitious.
Jane and Jim have an agreement about when to meet up after Jim goes on a date with Molly.
Jim is an hour late meeting up with Jane.
Jim doesn’t communicate with Jane that he will be late.
Jane is upset with Jim because he did tell her that he was changing their agreement.
Jim says it’s no big deal.
Jim is offended that Jane is upset at what he considers a trivial change of plans.
They come to me, feeling frustrated with what happened and how to move past the emotional discomfort.
When we look at agreements in polyamorous relationships, we need to be very clear about our desire, our willingness to commit, and what to do if the agreement either changes or is broken.
Creating agreements can look something like the following:
Put your needs on the table
Everyone is 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 chance of them getting met dramatically increases when you make them known.
Sharing impact and options
This is part of the negotiation process. Considering potential scenarios and how we feel about them brings clarity to what works, what doesn’t work, and what can work with a few adjustments.
When it’s time to make an agreement, be clear. If you say you’re going to do something, then do it. If something happens and you need to change an agreement, be sure to communicate with your partner immediately. Do not assume your partner will understand when you tell them the next day. Tell them immediately. Explain what happened. Tell them what’s changed and why. Lastly, be sure to communicate what you plan to do to remedy the situation. If you find your reasoning is an excuse, then you need to look at where that is coming from. It’s okay to have conflicting desires. It’s not okay to break agreements.