3 Levels of Conflict in Poly Relationships

There’s something that we all have to put up with from time to time in our untraditional relationships. Some of us have to deal with it every week or two. Hopefully not every day! For others, it might only come up once a month, maybe once every three months.

The thing that I speak about, and I don’t speak about it often because I don’t like to focus on it, is the reality of CONFLICTS.

Every relationship that is real has to deal with disagreements in perspective at some point in time, and it all depends on who you are that determines how you will approach conflict and work to resolve it, or not.

Whether it’s your astrological sign that tips the scales towards being star-crossed lovers that argue like Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams in The Notebook, or you were raised in a family that urged and instigated conflict in conversation, or you have certain buttons that push your angry levels to the max—whatever the cause is, we don’t judge around here.

There are levels to everything in life. There are levels in kink and sex, and there are levels in anger and disagreement. I have experience as a polyamorous person with a variety of ages, cultures, and genders that has given me a breadth of people to agree and disagree with! Similar to the three levels of danger, I present to you three levels of polyamorous conflict.

3 Levels of Polyamory Conflict

1. Green

This is healthy conflict or disagreement. Mature adults can do this passionately, and it may even be an anchor in their relationship. There is open conversation, a discussion of opposite or different viewpoints, an acceptance of partner’s partners, the ability to hear and appreciate other perspectives, no cynical responses, and no negativity.

There is mutual respect in all parts of communication, with a consistent focus on using argument as a vehicle to clarify differences of opinion and head towards a solution as the ultimate goal at all times, whether immediately or eventually. There CAN be good arguments… that can even lead to great makeup sex! If you keep the respect present at all times, you’ll stay in the green zone.

2. Yellow

At this level there are raised voices, flared tempers, and frustrated voices. Partners might have difficulty clarifying conversation points, avoiding minor insults and subliminal jabs to each other’s egos and personalities, and listening without interrupting.

There might be constant bickering, circular conversations that don’t lead to solutions or a deeper understanding of each other’s perspectives and problems, an inability to communicate with other’s partners, and perhaps a stubborn attitude towards one particular aspect but a blind acceptance of another. This type of conflict can’t go on for a long time before something has to give.

Read: How to Handle Conflicts in Your Polycule

Yellow level arguments need to be solved before they move to…

2. Red

Here there may be shouting over one another, name calling, bringing up past mistakes, saying things meant to be offensive or cause emotional harm, and using sexual or personal details to cause pain and unhappiness. At this level, you’ll find broken promises, threats to end the relationship, ultimatums, and refusals to accept any new ideas or perspectives.

There could be harsh replies to everything, a shutdown of emotions, delayed reactions, disrespectful language, or a total  communication breakdown. There might be extreme behaviors at this level, with threatening attacks of emotional, economic, sexual, or physical violence, which is FAR BEYOND the edge of any argument I ever find myself in, and I hope you too.

Leave the room or house, and even leave the relationship if you need to get out of things before they get physical. There is no need for violence except in the case of self-defense, so please don’t stay with someone who you feel unsafe with. And if it is you that feels you can’t control yourself physically, then seek professional help outside the relationship. Violence is no solution to anything. Stay out of the red zone of conflicts, please.

Read: How to Handle Conflict with a Partner

Polyamory isn’t easy. It requires real people to show up in real conversations and to say really hard things sometimes. But this is vital for your polyamory to progress and is a part of the natural ups and downs of healthy relationships.

Addi Stewart

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