Thursday, April 18, 2013

Being Fair Is NOT Being Equal

For those of us in multiple relationships, "fair" can be a loaded word. "It's not fair that she gets to sleep over but I don't." "It's not fair that you don't use condoms with him but you do with me." "It's not fair that he gets weekend dates with you while I only get weekdays." "It's not fair that we never take trips together but you do that with your other partners."

Sound familiar? Most of us hear things like this all too often.

The fact is, sometimes those things may be true. And you may feel you're being treated unfairly when you find that your metamours (your partner's other partners) receive different treatment than you do.

But please understand, fair isn't the same as equal.

Did you catch that? I'll say it again: fair isn't the same as equal. Fairness in relationships is ensuring everyone gets what they need, not ensuring everyone gets the same thing.

It's easy to recognize that fair and equal aren't synonymous when you consider, say, public transportation. People in wheelchairs are given special consideration on the bus, and sometimes even have a dedicated bus pick them up to ensure they get where they need to go. It's not an equivalent treatment that ambulatory people receive, and for good reason. Those of us not using wheelchairs have no need for such specialized equipment. Thus, fairness is ensuring that people in wheelchairs are able to use public transit just as everyone else is.

Similarly, not all partners in poly relationships will be treated equally. This doesn't imply unfair treatment of one or more people (although that certainly may happen).

In my own relationships, I've noticed that one of my partners needs a lot of contact throughout the day, while the other does not. Because of this, I text Ryder while on dates with Rusty, but I limit how much I text Rusty when I'm with Ryder. This isn't because I love Ryder more or don't value Rusty. It's because not hearing from me for a few hours doesn't bother Rusty, but it makes Ryder anxious.

Conversely, Rusty often has to rely on me for transportation for dates. He shares a car with another partner, so if she needs the car for something, he won't have use of it. I'm happy to pick him up at the beginning of our date and drop him off after, and I rarely do this with Ryder (Ryder and the partner he lives with share three vehicles, making it easy for him to have access to wheels).

These are just some of my experiences. Examples I've seen of unequal yet fair treatment in poly relationships: living with one partner but not others, having several dates per week with some partners but only a few per month with others, engaging in certain hobbies with one partner but not the other, owning a business with some but not all partners.

You may be struggling with this inaccurate idea of fairness right now. Perhaps one of your partners has asked for something and you can't figure out how you'll give it to all your partners. Perhaps you've learned about something your partner shares with another partner, and you feel slighted that you don't get it as well. You can stop worrying! No one is being treated unfairly just because things aren't equal.

Are there other ways in which unequal but fair treatment manifests? Please share your experiences!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Why NRE Sucks!

I recently wrote about why NRE is awesome. I still think it is. I stand by what I said then.

But NRE also sucks, and here's why: it significantly impairs your decision-making ability.

Being in love is exactly like being on drugs. And, while that makes you feel great and want more, it also makes you make poor choices.

Think back to all the things you did while "in love" that you later looked back on and wondered what the hell you were thinking. It's not a short list, is it?

Here are some things people do when "in love" that are really and truly terrible ideas:

  • Neglecting other people you care about in order to focus attention on your partner (especially children, parents, friends, or other partners)
  • Breaking agreements with other partners because you want something with your NRE partner
  • Slacking off at work to focus more attention on your partner
  • Compromising your principles to benefit your partner or the relationship

These are unquestionably bad ideas that you would never give credence to if you weren't so dopey with yummy neurotransmitters.

The good news: you're not a horrible person. We all do this shit. We all get so caught up in getting our fix with our partner that we stop taking care of the details of life.

The bad news: you're the only one who can get yourself out of whatever mess you've gotten into. You're responsible for your actions. Have you made some really bad decisions because of NRE? Time to own them.

This week, spend Saturday night with your kids instead of on a date. Work some overtime to make up for that long lunch you took with your sweetie. Apologize to your other partner(s) for letting them down when you stood them up to go out with your new flame. Discuss separating your finances from your new squeeze who doesn't ever seem to be able to keep a job and has moved into your house.

It's important to enjoy the blissful feelings NRE gives you, but temper them with a hefty dose of logic and reason. Remember that your bliss won't last, and consider if you'll still feel good about that decision once you're back to baseline.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Emotional Vampires

Let's talk about vampires.

Not the Stoker kind, or even the Twilight kind (okay, REALLY not the Twilight kind). Instead, let's discuss emotional vampires.

Emotional vampires take what they want from people to satisfy their own needs, then move on. They may call these attachments "relationships," but those they drain probably see them as "mistakes."

Emotional vampires don't consider the feelings, needs, or desires of those they use. They lure them in with good looks, or sex, or infatuation, or something else shiny and pretty. Once their victims are hooked, vampires use them to get what they want: validation, sexual fulfillment, status, money. They take what they want without regard for the consequences to their victim.

Then, when they're done, they disappear. This can be an actual distance vanishing, in which the victim and their circle of friends never see the vampire again, or an emotional one, in which the vampire simply cuts off contact with their bewildered victim.

In either case, the victim is usually left stunned, wondering what just happened. They may decide to blame themselves for things going wrong ("If only I hadn't texted so much!") or desperately pursue their vampire in an attempt to reconcile. They may become fearful of future emotional attachments to others, leaving them lonely later in life. A few will likely realize they've been horribly used, and attempt to move on as best they can.

Beware these vampires. Learn to recognize them before they drain you. Some warning signs:
A vampire:
  • Promises a perfect, wonderful relationship in the early stages of courtship.
  • Has a lot of exes they never see or speak to.
  • Stops speaking to you for long periods of time so they can "think about their feelings" instead of discussing problems with you.
  • Is constantly facing an emotional crisis that demands time and attention.
  • Is only available on their schedule; is never available if you ask to see them.
  • Sets double standards on the terms of your relationship (e.g. it's okay for them to flirt with other people, but not okay for you to).
  • Takes no responsibility for the consequences of their actions.
  • Never attempts to make things right with those they've wronged.

Have you been involved with an emotional vampire? Please share your experience!