We’ve all done it—said something mean or critical about someone in our poly group behind their back. It’s human nature to vent and to feel remorseful or embarrassed if we get caught.
You might think the only way to redeem yourself in this situation is to plead innocent, then hope that no one ever dares to speak of it again. You could try that but it probably won’t get you very far. Here’s how to handle the consequences of your words.
Don’t Deny It
Own up to what you said because backpedaling will only convince those who are offended that you really are a disingenuous phony. Admit to your transgression, but do so in a way that protects your self-esteem. Everybody vents from time to time. It’s a way to make sense of hard feelings.
If the wrong person overhears, it’s awkward, but that doesn’t weaken the legitimacy of your feelings. Stand behind your words and have the fight that might very well need to play out. Sometimes these moments of involuntary confrontation happen for a reason.
If It Was Hurtful, Apologize
Saying you’re sorry is not the same as saying you’re wrong. You can defend your position while still expressing regret over the pain your words have caused. Mixing in an apology with “I feel” statements is a good way to go. Try something like, “I feel that you sometimes crash my dates by texting our partner about something that can wait until he gets home. I’m sorry that I didn’t approach you about it directly. I’ll try to communicate better next time.”
You only need to apologize once. If you were sincere, and the apology wasn’t accepted, more apologies won’t do it. The only way to prove your remorse is through a change in behavior.
Get Real with Yourself
Ask yourself some questions: Why are you so angry about this? Why don’t you feel safe enough to face the issue head on? Poly relationships are supposed to be all about direct communication and yet many of us fear confrontation. Is this something that can be resolved with a simple apology, or might it require therapy and lots of self-reflection?
Occasional venting is completely normal, but if you find yourself talking negatively about someone behind their back all the time, you might want to seek professional help so that you can learn how to express your feelings in a more positive and direct way.
Have a Larger Conversation if Needed
If your anger has gotten out of hand and it’s having a serious impact on everyone involved, you might want to sit down as a group and talk it out. Maybe it’s as simple as changing a few ground rules about texting and date nights, or maybe it’s a larger issue involving jealousy and resentment. Sometimes it’s hard to know until you really hash it out.
You’re never going to get along with everyone in your polycule all the time. There will arguments, there will be friendships between metamours that never quite form. Don’t force it. It’s better to be authentic in your words and actions, then to get caught talking smack.