Everyone knows that communication is important in poly relationships. That doesn’t mean that we’re all good at it, though, or that our best intentions to be honest and emotionally connected in poly life always triumph over our desire to just shut up and please everyone else.
There are many reasons why communication may be lacking in your polycule, from overpacked schedules and strained connections to hurt feelings and lost trust. No matter what the underlying problem is, here are some signs that your polycule is in need of a communication reboot.
4 Signs of a Communication Breakdown
1. Differing Expectations
Relationship expectations are comprised of many things: past experiences, learned definitions of love and partnership, and—in ideal cases—carefully communicated wants and needs.
If it seems that your expectations are rarely met, or that you are disappointing your partners at every turn, it’s time to sit down together and talk about how your expectations differ. You might very well want the same things, but have different notions of how to get there. Never assume that if your partners love you enough, they know exactly what you need.
2. Lots of Misunderstandings
Are you and your partners locked in a pattern of constant bickering? Do you have trouble keeping track of date nights, or individual responsibilities? Are feelings always hurt, leading to hours of damage control after the fact? If so, you might want to work in some time when you and your partners can preemptively go over the poly schedule and other important details.
Figure out a system that works for your group. Some polycules prefer weekly check-ins, while others find this frequency overwhelming and opt for something bi-weekly or even monthly.
3. Mounting Frustrations
Communication breakdowns aren’t always obvious. Sometimes they present as nothing more than a fast-burning fuse, sparked by that massive pile of frustrations and negativity that’s accumulated over the years.
When you start to notice that every little thing about your partners puts you on edge, or that the things they once found endearing about you now inspire eye rolls and passive-aggressive comments, dig in to discover what’s behind all that anger. (If your pile has reached mountain status, you might want to do this work in the presence of a therapist.)
Resentment is calcified miscommunication. In other words, it’s the end result of not dealing with any or all of the above issues. Make an effort to communicate openly and honestly as a polycule.
Start early on and never stop, even if it feels awkward or causes conflict in the short term. Get comfortable with confrontation. Don’t let your desire to “keep the peace” lead to bigger issues in the long run. Pledge to make your polycule a safe space where each of you can express your wants, needs, and concerns. You’ll be much happier as a result.
Are you currently having a communication breakdown? How are you dealing with it?