The Poly Negotiator
In my interactions with the online poly community, one of
the phrases I often
hear is, "Oh it would be
of me to ask for X. I can't do
My first reaction is often an eyeroll. My own philosophy is
such that I do not consider the concept of selfishness a great evil
-- or evil at all. In fact, the contortions people go through
to prevent themselves from being or being seen as selfish often cause
more trouble than true callous self-centeredness actually would.
This is not to say that I recommend that you be callously self-centered.
No, no, no. I am all about love and being loving.
Really. I'm just not very fluffy bunny about it.
But selfish? Honestly, I think the poly community could do
with a little more
selfishness. Before you run off and insist on your own way
and cite this
article as your excuse, though, please finish this article
so I can explain
what I mean. If I find out you've shoved something down
citing me or my word as an excuse, You Shall Incur the
Wrath of the Goddess of
One of the biggest problems I see is that people do not ask
for what they want.
Now, I am picking my words with extreme care, here. I
did not say "demand"
"insist" or any of the other of a long string of words that
imply a high
emotive connection to getting what you want, or strong
negative consequences if
you don't. I said and
Asking means you're open to being told "no". It means
you're open to analyzing
the essence of what you do want so that you and the person
you are asking can
come to an agreement that, in business jargon, is a win/win
I mean, come on, if you're poly and you're asking for
something in a
relationship, you love the person, right? One of the
things you really do want
is for the partner to be happy and satisfied, too. (If it
isn't on your list
of wants, I would question whether or not that is a loving
With that in mind, let's approach a
Hepzibah and Albert are married. Albert is also dating
Megan. Now Megan knows
that she is a secondary, and because of this is insecure
about asking for too
much. So, even though she wants to spend more time with
Albert, she doesn't
out of fear of it being too much to ask for and perhaps
annoying Hepzibah to
the point of wanting to ask Albert to discontinue the
While it does take a fair amount of guts, one thing Megan
can do is quite
for the time anyway. She can ask that they all sit down
together to discuss
the matter, and then say something along the lines of, "I
would enjoy it very
much if I could spend a couple of nights a week with
Albert. Could we discuss
some sort of schedule?"
Now, what if Hepzibah is not really cool with Albert being
away two nights a
week. They both have jobs and children and other
commitments in their lives.
Here's a point where Hepzibah needs to express her
concerns. "Megan, I know
you want to see him, and I don't blame you. But here's the
deal. I'm in night
school and on the nights I am at home, I'm studying while
Albert takes care of
the kids. Would you be okay with a grown up date night,
where things can be
completely kidless, and then another evening where you guys
hang out around
here, look after the kids and still spend some time
together so I can get some
studying done? To be honest, that's still leaving me with
little kidless time
with Albert myself, but I can deal with that until I get my
semester. After my degree is done, I really am going to
want more time to
reconnect with him."
Notice that both Hepzibah and Megan are quite clear on what
they want and why.
It is absolutely futile to enter into negotiations until
you do know, what you
want, why you want it and how much of what you want will
Albert probably has his own needs and wants at this point,
actually, I am
cool with us never getting any alone time. I feel like
eight months is longer
than I want to go without keeping up with our connection.
I know school is
overwhelming, but I think things will go more smoothly if
we do devote some
time to each other, too. Megan, would you be okay with a
date night for you
and I and then maybe babysitting the kids another night
while Hepzibah and I go
Notice here, everyone's immediate wants are a little
different. Notice also,
that they are being very clear about what they
want and are not getting caught up and fixated on what
they think will
them what they want. Megan wants more time. She doesn't
fixate on specific
days of the week when what she really wants is more time.
Hepzibah wants time
to study without having to keep an ear out for the kids.
Albert wants to spend
more time with Hepzibah.
They all offer solutions, you notice. Now there is a
a solution and having an attachment to it. For this sort
of thing, you need to
offer and release attachment. If Albert, Hepzibah and
Megan keep on being
and clearly understanding what they want, as well as being
communicate it well, they'll do fine in their relationships.
It's a bad idea not to ask for what you want.
It's a worse idea not to take the time to find out what it
is that you
want. If you haven't analyzed this, it is impossible to
ask for it. Take the
time to know the essence of what it is you truly want. You
absolutely must do
this before negotiations are going to work. This is not to
say that sometimes,
in the middle of talking, you realize you hadn't had as
clear a handle on the
essence of what you wanted as you thought. That's okay.
It can happen. (I've
had it happen to me in some amazingly entertaining ways!)
Make sure when you
get these little moments that you
. The people that came up with Communicate, Communicate,
Communicate as the
Polyamory Mantra were smart people. Pay attention to that.
And maybe, after a few years of the Poly Training Ground,
you'll make a great
living as a mediator or negotiator. <snicker>
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