5 Rules for Talking about Your Poly Partners

The nature of the beautiful beast that is polyamory is: OTHER PEOPLE.

But, the thing is: how NICE are you when you talk about other people that aren’t in the room? Furthermore, how HONEST are you when you talk about other people that aren’t in the room… that you’ve had sex with? Or want to?

Ah, yes. That’s when your personality changes. You’re not the same person to me as you are when I’m not there. It’s okay though. I trust you are only talking about things you know I’m comfortable with you sharing. I’m an open book type of lover, so… yeah.

But say you’re seeing someone who doesn’t like you revealing anything about them? If someone asks you about them. What would you say? Do you say just the surface, superficial information that is not a problem to share with the world? Or if you were slightly attracted to the person asking you about your partner, would you hide certain information? 

There are countless factors that could influence someone into altering the truth said about someone else not in the room. Here are a few…

  • They are interested in the person asking, so they reveal things they shouldn’t, so the person asking starts trusting them more.
  • They are interested in the person not there, so they hide or expose certain details about them for deception’s purposes.
  • They are interested in someone nearby, so they speak good/bad about the person not there to look good to their crush target.
  • They are interested in changing their reputation in the community, so they talk about the person not there to try and seem a certain way to a certain group of people, but don’t feel like taking responsibility for being totally honest with everyone equally.
  • They are up to something that I can’t fathom.

That being said, I know we all do it. It’s not necessarily bad, either. Especially if you only say good things that are true about someone! But even if you say not so nice things about someone behind their back, as long as it’s not extremely malicious speech, slanderous lies, jealous fabrication, or detrimental words intending on destroying relationships with others for them, then I don’t think it’s the worst thing in the world to talk about people. We all do it to release a little stress and frustration.

We are not collectively encouraged to express the entirety of our emotions to the people who evoke them. This society would crumble in ONE DAY if everyone told their internal emotional truth to everyone’s faces! The premise of Seinfeld revolved around people who were utterly incapable of articulating their truth to the ONE person it ever mattered to, and talking behind their backs was basically where the show gained most of its comedic value. Even a healthy joke based in actual behaviour might be fair, but nothing disrespectful is appropriate. If we lived in a world where nobody spoke behind each other’s backs, we’d all probably have a lot more confidence, joy and happy relationships in our lives, but we don’t… yet.

I have come up with some suggestions to possibly help us reach that splendiferous meadow of mutual respect and kindness-filled communal camaraderie. Here’s some ideas to make your backstabbing slander seem like a delicate shoulder and ticklish spinal massage filled with care and cuddly concern!

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5 Rules to Follow when Talking about Your Poly Partners

1. Don’t say anybody’s name. Like, ever. (Unless you are warning someone to stay away from someone you stay away from!) If there’s ONE rule to talking about your partners, it’s this. Don’t be using people’s names in impolite conversation. That’s just honorable etiquette. You may be slightly frustrated with a particular lover, and in some random place talking to some random person, and you know they both will never cross paths or talk to each other in their entire lives. Yes, this may be the case. That still doesn’t make it okay to blurt out so-and-so’s name while you run down your list of transgressions they have visited upon your heart. To give the honor of anonymity is simply the best idea to always operate with as a default. I don’t fear revealing anything about my poly relationships, but keeping someone’s privacy by hiding their real (or nick) name is just Basic Respect 101. Never fail that course, please! Every relationship has its own rules for what can be revealed or has to stay hidden, but if you have to talk about your presently absent lover and I’m there, I don’t want to hear slander. And I don’t want to know who you’re talking about, so don’t even give enough details for anyone to figure out who it is, okay?

2. Don’t lie, exaggerate or omit vital truth. This also is the admirable dream of dreams, and the struggle of struggles. One person’s truth is another person’s lie, right? Wrong? Who says who is not making shit up, anyways?! I don’t know, so this one is also very hard, but I have to say it anyways, because that’s what we are hoping both people can operate with. Mutual respect. And respect means seeing eye to eye. One should not lie to someone they are looking in the eye. So please don’t make up falsehoods and half-facts and little fibs for the sake of whatever sabotage you seek to start or circulate. Poly people need personal and interpersonal integrity together for this thing to stay as pure as possible!

3. Don’t say anything negative that you haven’t said to them already (to the very best of your ability!) Yes this also is a challenge, but it’s certainly not impossible! And if one is in a great relationship with only one or two issues to work on, then it’s extremely easy to stay positive when talking about poly problems and solutions! You can say “hey, I’m with a few partners and things are cool, but with one of them, I’m suffering harshly from her sexual selfishness, even though I know she’s actively working on healing that part of her. I like her a lot, but it’s not easy always giving to her and not receiving much in return, especially sexually… I give her so much physical passion, and it’s rarely reciprocated!” This is just an example. If I have already spoken to my poly lover about this problem with her, then it shouldn’t really be much of a problem for me to discuss this maturely with a few friends or lovers, discreetly and delicately. If I have never spoken to any poly partners about any problems, then I shouldn’t really say anything to people who aren’t part of the solution process… these are my beliefs. They work for me. If you practice otherwise, I hope it’s healthy and functional. But regardless, to not say anything negative to any poly partners that you haven’t said to the partner themselves is possible! You can enjoy this clarity! It gets easier as you go along.

4. Do try and say some good things they’ve said and done too!
This is pretty easy and self-explanatory. You’re a polyamorist. Life is damn good if you’re being honest with your partners and yourself! So, say something good about some of your lovers to… well, to anyone who will listen, ha ha! Talk about the freedoms, benefits, fantasies, pleasures, ideas, beautiful struggles, and joyful journey you are on with your poly lovers.

5. Do not betray anyone’s trust and reveal any secrets for the sake of getting closer to another poly partner (or ANY reason!) This is a reinforcement and a recycling of another suggestion, but it’s vital that it is actualized. It is CRUCIAL that is is made real! Do NOT use Monica’s trust to hook up with Michelle! Do NOT do that, please and thank you! If there’s one thing even worse than cheating on someone in polyamory, it’s dumping on the reputation of one person to elevate the reputation of yourself in the eyes of someone else you are interested in, and that’s just despicable, to be straight up with you. I can’t imagine how one could ever justify that, and it’s not even rational to attempt it. The path we all need to keep our feet and mouth on, is one of honoring privacy and not betraying secrecy, no matter what we shall receive in return for it. None of this “Christy has chlamydia, don’t tell her I told you! I really feel like I can trust you with everything so I had to tell you…” business. That’s not how polyamory operates! Keep your friend’s secrets to yourself, please. And thank you.

There are obviously more ways to communicate honorably in polyamory, but I thought I’d suggest these, because the better one communicates, the better one’s pleasure becomes! Add your top five in the comments if you’d like.

Boundary Violations in Polyamory

In love,
Addi Stewart

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