I’ve read a few comments from some people going polyamorous lately — specifically people whose partners are starting new relationships, and I am noticing a trend that is so very easily fixable that I just have a write an article about it.
You see, they agree to something, then they tie themselves in knots to accept things that have nothing to do with what they thought they were agreeing to. They’re upset, feeling bad about themselves for somehow being deficient emotionally and just plain not doing well.
You, the person who has a new relationship? I know you love your partner and you don’t want them to feel this way, so I am going to give you some pointers on how you can build trust and a comfort zone for your partner as you’re enjoying a new partner.
1. Set Expectations Clearly and Specifically
This one can be one of the biggest problems. Let’s say you’ve got a date and you’re looking forward to it. You’re going to be going out on Friday evening and coming back Saturday morning, so you say so.
Now, lemme ask something: Are you leaving at 5 in the evening right after work on Friday and coming back at 11:59 on Saturday only to be shocked to find an anxious and upset partner?
You might feel indignant about it. You didn’t lie. Technically, you were correct, and you certainly did what you said you were going to do. So why is your partner upset?
“I’m going to go on a date Friday evening and come back Saturday morning,” is crap for setting an expectation when someone is new to polyamory, it really is. “I’m going on a date after work and am going to be coming back close to Noon on Saturday” is saying the same thing you intended, but is much, much more accurate.
Clear expectations are sure to make your partner feel more comfortable.
2. Be Present When You’re with Your Partner
If you’re physically with your partner and texting your New Love, your partner is not going to feel very valued. If you are giving your time to a partner, you need to be fully present during that period. If you’re not intending to give that time, be clear about that, too.
It’s not that you can’t have time to yourself or that you shouldn’t need it if you’re polyamorous. I’m writing this article right now in the living room of a hotel suite while my husband is reading comic books. But when we went out for coffee, our phones stayed in our pockets, and we were talking to each other.
A former boyfriend of mine once commented that since time is all he has (it’s all any of us have) that when he is spending time with a partner, he feels like it is a personal gift of himself. I still remember those lunchtime coffee dates and long walks with great fondness because he was REALLY THERE when we were together.
Don’t just do that for your new loves. Do that for the old ones, too.
3. Only agree to what you intend to follow through on
It’s quite natural when confronted with someone who is upset to want to say something to soothe them down as soon as possible. I get it. You’re a kind person, and you hate to see someone hurting.
The thing is, this is foolishness.
My husband’s greatest strength and his greatest weakness is the fact that he likes people to be happy and relaxed around him. It comes from a place of love and kindness but can get really screwed up when the focus is on soothing down rather than on being honest.
In fact, it pretty damn near put paid to our relationship when he would agree to things when he perceived me to be upset that he didn’t really want to do or want to follow through on. I could never feel comfortable on the follow through the part.
Yes, we did work it out. But learn from this. Only agree to what you genuinely intend to do.
Doing these three things are perfect for trust-building. Setting expectation well helps the partner relax. Being fully present is an excellent way to show a person that they are deeply valued, and only agreeing to what you fully intend to follow through on means that your partner can have rock-solid trust in you. Not only is this good for polyamorous relationships, but this can also help as a parent, as a friend, and in all your other relationships to let people know they can trust you.