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Polyamory for the Practical

The Fixer Upper Relationship

Thus Speaks Lisa Box:

I get to live in a threesome every day. It's lots of fun and very rewarding, but there are pitfalls that you just don't fall into nearly as often as when you're in a twosome. I find myself having to look out for the Translator/Negotiator Pit quite vigilantly. You know this one - where you're just sure that if your partners understood each other half so well as you understand them both, the whole family would function like a well-oiled machine and everyone would be grateful to you for making it all possible?

I once spent several months in that pit. In a row. Running from one side to the other, shouting up to the top, trying very hard to convince each of my partners that the other one really wanted to talk more, to communicate better, to be closer, to have more sex. How did I know these things were true? Well, obviously, if I had been either one of them, I would have wanted those things. Therefore, they should want them, too. And so, it was my self-appointed job to make sure that everybody had what they should want. Let me tell you - the benefits for that job are not all that good, and the chance for advancement is just about nil.

See, nobody was ever grateful to me for providing this service. In fact, people tended to get very irritable with me for it. I had a very hard time understanding this irritability. After all, I was just running around like a crazy person keeping all those plates spinning so that everything wouldn't fall apart, right? Just reading their minds and translating out of the goodness of my heart, to make everything better for all of us.

Wrong. I was doing it because I had a nice little picture in my head of what a happy, successful poly family ought to look like, and ours didn't look like that. Therefore, I figured I needed to fix it. And I'm a good fixer, too. But for some reason, things that aren't broken just don't want a whole lot of fixing.

My partners are grown up people who deserve the power to create the kind of relationships they want for themselves, and who are capable of doing so. They can do this without me standing in the middle of them and translating and negotiating. I finally realized that not only was I trying to force them into the kind of relationship I wanted for them, I was also basically telling them that I had no confidence in their ability to communicate and negotiate with each other. They quite rightly resented the hell out of this assumption on my part.

So, now, I just translate and negotiate for myself. If these other grownups that I live with need any assistance, they'll ask for it. They don't seem to, though - although they communicate very differently with each other than I do with each of them, and have a relationship that's very different from the ones they have with me, they're perfectly happy. Imagine - people doing things their own way, and nothing is falling apart.

The Fixer Upper Relationship, used by permission
2004, Lisa Box, All Rights Reserved.

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