At a reading of “more than two” in Berlin, the question suddenly arose and I noticed that I had never written anything about it. I have already had some experience with it. Mistrust is a big topic, maybe you know that well? Soon a blog entry of its own.
Implicit vs. Explicit Agreements
Agreements are not an issue, which is only an issue in non-monogamous relationships. I think that most relationship forms touch this topic at some point. Usually the difference is the form of the agreements. Ethical and consensual non-mongamous relationships presuppose that one puts on the table what one expects from the other or from the other people and which agreements are actively addressed and discussed. The difference between implicit and explicit is crucial here. If agreements were not kept, which implicitly were always between the lines, then it could not have been a consensual agreement. How, if it has never been mentioned whether everyone involved agrees and wants to uphold it? It is difficult in such cases to deal with the arising anger, sadness, disappointment etc.. Who are the people to be angry at? On yourself? Towards the situation? Who’s in charge here?
So the first question can be: Was the agreement that was not followed explicit or implicit? Such a moment can also be seen as an opportunity to make transparent what one expects and wants from the relationship and where something went wrong.
Lie vs. Truth
I keep wondering how to create an atmosphere of honesty that encourages and supports people to be honest. For a long time I thought that when people didn’t stick to agreements, they lied to themselves and to me first and foremost. How could it be otherwise? Of course, they simply didn’t dare to admit to themselves that they want something else and as a consequence they first fooled themselves and then lied to me. It wasn’t that easy.
I think there is a big difference between a lie (actively choosing to twist or hide or hide the truth) and the fact that you may not yet be aware of what you want. Saying that can be very honest. For example, I didn’t know for a long time that I was more into spontaneous acquaintances. When I meet people at a party or on other occasions that I find exciting, then maybe at that certain moment I get the desire to date or kiss or or or or. On the other hand, there are people who are not interested in it at all. I have some friends who are mainly interested in BDSM dates and need a certain frame, that can’t be set up spontaneously. You might have to find something like that out for yourself first. In theory, this can sometimes not be foreseen.
As a result, I find it easier to deal with it if my relationship people simply didn’t know about themselves that they might have felt the need. I can’t really blame them for still getting to know themselves and finding out new things about themselves over and over again. Of course, the bad feeling remains in such moments. I still feel hurt and I have the feeling that I cannot trust them, sometimes it lasts so long that I try to protect myself from disappointment by leaving the possibility of disappointment open in my head. Mistrust is definitely something I keep working on, which triggers me enormously.
Not respecting agreement vs. manipulation
It gets much more difficult when someone has actually lied. Lies are tricky, because one lie is usually followed by another, and so on. Mostly they are accompanied by the fact that one has to manipulate one or more people to make them believe that what one conveys as truth is really the truth, although it is basically a lie. If agreements were not respected, for example last night’s date lasted 2 hours longer than one had actually agreed and one talks about it today, then the chain of events is quite clear and usually there is not so much room for a lie. However, if such an alleged trifle is concealed for 2 weeks and repeatedly rewritten, then this is manipulative and builds up a small framework of lies that makes the situation appear bigger than it is if possible.
What I basically mean to say is that there are different forms of agreements and, as a result, how it may feel that agreements are not being respected. There’s always the question behind it: Why was the agreement not respected? This can help to understand why the agreement was not kept. Understanding helps many people to come to terms with situations or to deal with them better. Then there’s the sadness, anger, disappointment and hurt. After all, the feelings are there and have their justification. I believe that the person who broke the agreement must take responsibility for it at such moments, otherwise I cannot work on it. For me, taking responsibility means first and foremost to sincerely apologize and admit that you have behaved wrongly and hurt the other person(s). A sincere apology is a good start. Mostly I also find it good to hear why the agreement could not be kept. What was the need behind it? What can we do differently in future to prevent this? After all, it is not only the responsibility of the person who has not abided by it, but also an important form of common relationship work. Somewhere someone felt unfree and tried to “break out”, for me that usually stands behind an unfulfilled agreement and I don’t want to convey that feeling to anyone in my relationships.
How can I rebuild trust for future agreements?
Agreements can have a restrictive effect and I think it is important that there is always room for a different decision even in situations. I think it is good to distinguish between “My feeling is that I am in a mood for this and that” and “I am sure that I only want the following”. Most of the time I don’t know what I could want, I let myself be surprised by moments. That can be difficult for arrangements, so it sometimes makes sense for me not to commit myself specifically to something very specific, but rather to try to define the framework as precisely as possible. For example, sometimes I know that I wouldn’t want to do more than make out at a party, then I can state this clearly (again important, where does sex actually start and where does making out end?). I also try to create an atmosphere of honesty with people to constantly give them the feeling that it is nice to be honest, that is for me the basis of all relationships. Sentences like “I will leave you if you do this and that” put extreme pressure and create an atmosphere of fear. Even if it is a no-go for you, every situation is so different and different and maybe you don’t want to end the relationship in such a moment. That doesn’t make the No-Go any less valuable or takes it away from you. Basically, you take away the possibility of wanting to make a different decision from the outset through such statements for yourself. Then the pressure was for nothing. It doesn’t even have to happen that someone breaks an agreement, maybe it’s enough that you can talk about such no-go’s without them ever being turned into reality? What’s the appeal behind it? Can you perhaps implement this under certain circumstances? How would it feel?