For some time now I have been asked again and again which arrangements have worked well for me and which have not. What would I do differently? What didn’t I like so much? I want to chat a little from the sewing box and share some experiences of myself and of other people who approached me.
I don’t like the word “rule”. I don’t think that sounds self-determined, but rather forced. I don’t want to have rules in relationships, I already decide for myself what I like and what I don’t and what I’m willing to enter into and what I’m not. It may be that I want to make compromises now and then, but that does not mean that I feel limited in my freedom to make a decision. On the contrary, an agreement suggests consensus and an agreement suggests self-determination. That’s why I’m talking about agreements, not rules.
One question I get asked frequently is whether I am allowed to fall in love, for example, or whether I am allowed to start something with others at any time? That usually irritates me. Isn’t it primarily about what I want and not what the relationship (the relationship construct) allows me? Sure, I don’t just do what I want, independent of other involved people, but it’s not about someone allowing me anything. To start with prohibitions and rules in relationships indicates that someone is making these prohibitions and rules, and to me it quickly sounds as if someone is doing it from a position of power. In my view, this is not at eye level. Well, that was a little “slip in”, but somehow it seemed important to me. 😉
My first arrangements were honestly quite detailed and quite sophisticated. We were simply afraid to do something wrong, so we wanted to give ourselves as much security as possible and the arrangements were our means of choice. There was the “your city, my city” agreement. In it we agreed that we don’t want to date in the same city and especially not in the same circle of friends. I believe that the agreement was made because we were afraid to meet the people, we wanted to keep them as far away from us as possible. That worked well for a while then, but honestly? I just don’t have time for this right now. Apart from the fact that I find it nice to meet the lovers and metamours of my relationship persons, I simply have neither the money nor the time capacities to get to know people in other cities at this point in my life. But I think that this can work well. For example, if people travel a lot anyway or travel a lot, if this can be integrated into their everyday life, then it can work. However, I would ask myself why I feel the need to keep this part of my life/relationship person(s) away from me. And is that really so easy to keep away from me? Especially when people become more and more important to each other, it is not a question of physical closeness, but of emotional connection. Spatial distance may not play a role if a person becomes more important to me either way.
Then there was the “before the date, after the date” arrangement. We agreed quite strictly on how much time should pass before and after sex. We also limited dates. Oh, don’t ask me how we imagined it back then. It went totally wrong, of course. How can such a close arrangement be implemented? I think she was designed from the beginning to go wrong and disappoint each other. What worked out for a while, however, was the agreement that we “only” meet people in order firstly to be able to assess what we are at all interested in and to slowly prepare each other for possible future encounters. If you can take it slow, it may work quite well.
Arrangements can be as good as they want, but needs can change and arrangements should be open. I like to check out my relationship needs. Sometimes it has worked well to meet at regular intervals and talk about just how the needs are in relation to the non-monogamous relationship. I think this is quite good, because it is not a topic every one or two weeks and the question is again in the room: “What do you actually feel like doing? I think that can be quite exhausting if you just talk about the open relationship all the time. To create spaces in which one wants to actively, consciously and lustfully talk about it, it felt relieving to me.
The thing is, moreover: Many people agree that they are only interested in purely physical dates and encounters. The question is, where does it start and more importantly, where does it stop being “just” physical? If you have a one-night stand and never see each other again, it may be clear, but what about the countless other situations in which you meet people more than once, write to them and they get very close to you pretty quickly. I felt it wasn’t usually a good idea to give an ultimatum. So to say that when someone falls in love or we break up because someone develops feelings, we no longer have an open relationship. You can choose not to pursue the feeling, but I don’t think you can control who you start to find super interesting and fall in love with the person, and so on. That’s why I now handle every person and every situation associated with them very individually. Arrangements can change, so can my needs, it doesn’t have to mean that my relationship person should or has to do everything, it just means that we see how we deal with it and how it can be integrated into our respective lives and our shared relationship. If arrangements are arrangements and not rules, then they are more fluent. That doesn’t mean I don’t respect them. It simply means that I am well aware that nothing is set in stone.
Besides, my arrangement isn’t exactly your arrangement. At first I wanted to have a complete balance. If you start dating people, I want to be allowed to. At that point I understood agreements more as rules, which is why the “may” took such a central moment. In the meantime, I am increasingly wondering whether it really is the point? If it makes me curious that you want to date and meet people, then it is nice that it evokes that in me and my interest is awakened. It is clear and somehow beautiful when you stimulate each other to change or when different needs are created by another person. However, if I get hurt by it and then go out and date to hurt you, then that’s not the point. Then an open relationship is a means to an end. I don’t have to want the same thing as my relationships, and that’s a good thing. I don’t want to be pressured by this, but if it does me good to date to get self-confirmation and have a good time, then I want to be able to do it.
Through arrangements I felt secure, but I have also sometimes used them to establish my privileged role. There were times when I was so unsure that no arrangement could have given me the security I had asked for and hoped for. Any agreement could only backfire because it was doomed to failure from the outset. When you use arrangements to communicate your real dissatisfaction with the situation, it is just an outlet and an opportunity to be angry, disappointed or hurt. To be honest, I wasn’t even aware of it, I can’t even be angry with my past self because I didn’t even know what I was doing. I was just so angry that I was desperately looking for a reason why I was actually angry. And I always found him. My relationship person couldn’t do anything right, everything felt kind of wrong. Every minute she called me too late after a date was a mistake, every detail she supposedly forgot to tell was a lie and every new desire and every desire gained was a disappointment and a deception in my eyes. So what I mean to say is that if the agreements are just a means to an end to your frustration and disappointment, then they can be as good, as detailed, as sophisticated as they want, they will not work.
My experience is that when you don’t know each other so well at the beginning and maybe even open up a relationship for the first time, arrangements get a little tighter. On the one hand, this has the reason that I am not yet able to assess people well and like to slowly approach changes. I am also often afraid of being disappointed or hurt, I need a little time to get closer and trust people. In a way, not to mistrust every arrangement and ask me if the person really wants that. I am still struggling with the fear that someone will lie to me so that I can feel safe and comfortable. Of course, this is difficult from two different perspectives, because on the one hand I don’t trust people to know what they want. And on the other hand it makes me permanently skeptical and suspicious. That’s exactly why it can be quite good for me to slowly get to grips with agreements and gain trust. Personally, I don’t like to go right to the top. Whether I’ve had one or more poly relationships, that doesn’t mean I can handle everything the second or third time better and faster. For example, I like having things to rely on, but at the same time I don’t want to restrict anyone. The compromise could be that I don’t make the agreement with my relationship person at what specific time they will return back home, but maybe I might suggest that after a date/meeting/etc. she crawls into my bed. So I have something I can rely on and I don’t expect the other person to be on the doorstep at 11 p.m. sharp.