Jan. 3rd, 2015

If your relationship style is adventurous, you're journeying down a road less traveled, with only vague maps. There's nothing wrong with spending your life in a hobbit hole, playing it safe, and doing what everyone has always done. But my friend, when you're an explorer, trying to reach as far as you can into the extents of what you and your partners can enjoy-- then... then. You're up in the high country.

Think of it this way. You and your partners (when you have partners) are in an adventuring party, climbing a mountain while tied to each other with ropes. Everybody has emotional needs and falls off the mountainside (anxiety, depression, reflexively feeling guilt for no reason). It happens to some more than others, but it happens to all of us. The rest of the party uses the ropes to pull them back up.

When they fall, your job is to pull. But here's the thing. When you're the one dangling from the end of the rope, your job is to try to get back on the mountain side. At least co-operate with your lovers' attempt to pull you up. Your lovers and metamours are not your therapists. They are there to achieve something together, not to be pulled down with you into the abyss. They chose you because you'll quest with them.

So here you are in this situation. You meet a person climbing alongside you, who seems like a good potential partner, the "PP". This person offers to clip a carabiner to yours, to connect to your rope chain.

So naturally you look at the other person who you would be connected to-- the potential metamour ("PM"). Let's say the PM wants to climb down to the foot of the mountain and stay in the hobbit hole in the base camp. (Did I mention there's nothing wrong with that?)

But the PM doesn't want to be in an adventuring party, or climb the mountain. PP is dragging PM along by the rope. Instead of climbing, PM is glaring stubbornly, with arms crossed, swinging from the end of the rope, deliberately stuck in an emotional freefall to punish PP. PP is doing all the work, and PM is pure liability. It turns out PP pressured PM into going on this adventure, and now PM is going to sabotage it.

If PM wants to go downward, PM can join the nearly-infinite number of people going that way. But PP has to choose. Go downward with PM, or upward with you? It can't be both.

You're responsible for your partners' emotional safety. Are you prepared to be responsible for the emotional safety of their partners? The bottom line is, don't let anyone clip a rope to you unless they un-clip from the non-climber. No reluctant polyamorists allowed. Do not get involved with someone who is pressuring their other partner to go along with it.

Reach out a hand when PP falters and slips. Keep pace and offer encouragement and tools. Just keep it clear to the PP that you're going upward, with or without them. No tug-of-war is allowed. If you're going to climb, your entire rope chain must be trying to go up. They can fall, but they must demonstrate that they're trying. The rule is "climbers only".

You cannot "motivate" someone to climb who never wanted to. The more you try, the closer you get to coercion and violations of consent.

When selecting a partner, there are very few things more important than a shared direction for the relationship itself. It doesn't need to be identical, but it must be reasonably similar. Most things can be compromised, but not goals for the relationship itself. If you are on incompatible paths, there is no compromise other than mutual failure.

First, find someone who will climb with you. Love is second. When you find love going in the opposite direction, never ask love to sacrifice it's journey of love, to go in your direction. Neither should you destroy the path that works for you to go on a path that's false for you. You'll only destroy both of your journeys. Exercise restraint, walk away, and find love going where you're going.

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