Dealing with Resentment in Poly Relationships

There’s always a push and a pull happening in polyamory. There is almost never a time where all things are perfectly balanced and happy, except maybe when people are sleeping… or dead. And that’s not a point in time I want to discuss at any length. I don’t know what deathbed poly looks like, and I’m not trying to see it anytime soon!

What I DO know about is another kind of cancerous death that happens in poly sometimes, and I’m not sure that it can be avoided. I know it can be minimized greatly, and it can be controlled with sincere efforts to remain as balanced in all aspects of emotional connection and behavior. But obviously it’s never forever, and there is always a slide from one side to another, always a power imbalance of some sort, where someone has a bit more control than the other person.

Sometimes a real balanced partnership is discussed as the operating system, and it’s a marvelous moment in human sexual and emotional relations. But for the most part one person often takes the lead and controls things, whether in the kitchen, or at the bank, or the initiation of sex, or the instigation of kisses and hugs, or even with text conversations.

A relationship contains an assortment of power exchange percentages, but when it goes too far in one direction, the R-word threatens to fuck shit up: Resentment. It’s the quiet spark of the fire of fury that hopefully will not grow between partners.

We’ve all known married folks who hold resentment and regret towards their partners. I think this is common because they are in an ostensibly permanent-boundary situation, and they might realize they have been cornered into a situation where they can’t ever receive the proper power expression they desire. What follows is often resentment, secret flirting, affairs, and sometimes separation and divorce.

Polyamory is a different animal on most levels, where power can (or should) be negotiated and desires expressed. Clear communication and confident emotional expression is one of the best ways I know how to eliminate any possible resentment and resistance to respect, and the reconciliation necessary to negotiate any power balance that sparks any negativity.

We feel resentment to our bosses, co-workers, friends, family (FOR SURE) and random strangers at times, but to feel it towards our poly partners isn’t okay if we let it fester past mild annoyance. It’s human nature though! So we just have to deal with it honestly and appropriately, like mature adults.

That’s all I know that really works: love and truth, maturity and communication. Bring all those things out, and chances are good that the R-Word won’t be the focus. It will be the S-Word: Satisfaction. Sincere, sweet, sacred, strong satisfaction.

Addi Stewart

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