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5 lessons monogamous families can learn from polyamorists

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5 lessons monogamous families can learn from polyamorists

  1. 1. 5 LessonsMonogamousFamiliesCanLearnfromPolyamorists Polyamoryisnotfor everyone,butthese tipscanbe useful formanyfamilies. PublishedonSeptember29,2014 by ElisabethA.Sheff,Ph.D.inThe PolyamoristsNextDoor 21 in Share Because polyamorousrelationshipscanbe intense andcomplicated,the people whoengage inthem overthe longterm puta lotof time,effort,andthoughintodevelopingstrategiestohelptheir relationshipslastandsurvive hardship.Whilepolyamoryitself iscertainlynotforeveryone,these strategiescanbe useful forpeople inall sortsof relationships.Divorcedparentsandothersinblended familieswill findthemespeciallyrelevant. 1. Communicate Honestly Polyamorouspeople putalotof emphasisoncommunicationasaway tobuildintimacy,explore boundaries,negotiate agreements,andshare feelings.Tellingthe truthisparamountto thisprocess,as honestyformsthe basisfortrust.Trust helpspeople feel safe,whichinturnbuildsintimacy,and (ideally) communicationcreatesapositive feedbackloopwithinthe relationship.Evenwhen communicatingaboutdifficultthingsthatfeellesspositive,polysuse the strategiesof tellingthe truth and beingwillingtotolerate the conflictinordertoworkthrough the problemastoolsto sustaintheir relationshipsovertime.
  2. 2. Finda Therapist Searchfor a mental healthprofessionalnearyou. FindLocal: Acupuncturists Chiropractors Massage Therapists Dentists and more! 2. Don’t Leave Too Soon Stayingwitha difficultconversation,evenif itisuncomfortable,isone of the waysinwhichpolypeople persevere withtheirrelationships.Forpolyrelationshipstolast,those involvedmustbe willingtokeep tryingto workthingsout,evenwhentheyare difficult.Unsurprisingly,othersinmonogamousand serial-monogamousrelationshipsalsoare more likelytosustainlong-termrelationshipswhentheytryto workthingsout,and bothpeople involvedputalotof effortintothe maintenance and sustenance of the relationship. Anotherstrategypolypeopleuse tomaintaintheirrelationshipsistoseeksupport,somethingthat couldbenefitandsustainserial monogamousrelationshipsaswell.If thingsgetrocky,reachout to friendsforsympathy, support,andadvice.Gettingprofessional counselingcanbe tremendouslyhelpful indealingwithconcrete issuesandestablishingpatternsforcommunicationthatcan helpdeal with othermattersthat arise overtime. 3. Don’t StayToo Long
  3. 3. In whatcan be a delicate balancingact,polypeoplefindthatitisimportantnotto drag thingsoutuntil the bitterendwhenpartnershave beensoawful toeachother thattheysimplymustrunaway from each other.Instead,polyssuggestthatitisbetterto recognize whenpeople have grownapartor relationshipsthatusedtoworkwell are nolongergoodfor the people involved,admitit,andchange in accordance withwhatthe relationshiphasbecome.Duringthisphase itisespeciallyimportanttobe kindand act withintegrity –whenpeople leave before theycheatthentheycanstill looktheirex- partnersinthe eye whentheyinteractlater. Additionally,planforthe longtermbecause whenfamilieshave childrenthenitwill be importantfor themto interactsmoothlywitheachotherinthe future.Evenif the urge to slashtheirex’stiresis overwhelminginthe moment,thinkingcarefullyaboutsharingbigeventswiththeirex-partnersinthe future,takingadeepbreath,andmakinga choice that will allow themtolooktheirformerpartnersin the eye withoutfeelingashamedwhentheyseeeachotherattheirchildren’sgraduationorwedding ceremonies. Shiftingattitudescanhelpaswell,andallow peopletogive eachothera break.Ratherthan characterizingtheirformerrelationshipasa“broken”familythathas failedbecause the adults’ relationshiphasended,peoplecanchoose toview theirrelationshipsasgoodforwhat workedfor whateverperiodof time thatwas,andthentime to move onwhentheynolongermetthe needsof the people involved.Inotherwords,the endcanjustbe an end,oreventransitiontoa new kindof relationship. 4. Be Flexible,AllowforChange Flexibilitycanbe a keyto resilience Google free images Polyamorouspeople sustain theirrelationshipsbybeingwillingtotrynew things.If the waysin which the relationshiphasbeengoingsofarare not working,thentryingsomethingelsecanbe quite effective. Thiscan meanshiftingexpectationsandlettinggoof formerpatterns,whichcanbe both invigorating and frightening.Beingable toshiftinresponsetochangingcircumstancesallowsfamiliestobe resilient, and polyamorousfamiliesroutinelymustadjusttonew familialandemotionalconfigurations.To accommodate theirunconventional familylives,polyfamiliestrynew things,reconfigure their relationshipsorinteractions,andremainopentoalternatives.Becausethiscanbe difficult,itmakes
  4. 4. sense toget helpnegotiatingthe changesbyreachingouttotrustedfriends,a counselor,orevena mediator.Tryingnewthingscanbe challenginganditdoesn’talwaysworkthe firsttime,sobe willingto refine andrenegotiateasthe familyexploresiscrucial tolearningandgrowth. 5. De-Emphasize Sexuality Eventhoughmost people associatepolyamorousfamilieswithsexuality,polysironicallyde-emphasize sexualitytohelpreconfigureandcope withchange.Emotional connectionisthe glue thatholdsfamilies togetheranyway,andwhile sex isgoodandhelppeoplefeel connected,itisnotenoughbyitself to sustaina long-termrelationship.Veryimportantlyforpolyamorousandnon-polyamorousfamilies,the endof sex doesnothave to meanendof relationship.Remainingfriendsisareal choice,andespecially importantwhenpeople havehadchildrentogether.Childrendonotcare if theirparentshave sex,and infact wouldmuchrather not hearaboutit or thinkof theirparentsas sexual beings.Instead,de- emphasizingsexualitycanallowfamilymemberstofocusoncooperative co-parentingandremainingon positive terms.Whenpeoplehave treatedeachotherwithrespectandallowedthemselvestochange or leave arelationshipthatisnolongerworkingbeforetheydoterrible thingstoeachother,itmakesit much more reasonable toactuallyco-parentorevenbe cordial toeachother. 4 Readercommentsjointhe discussionhere! ElisabethSheff,Ph.D.,isanexpertonpolyamoryandsexual-minorityfamilieswithchildren. more... Subscribe toThe PolyamoristsNextDoor Subscribe v

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