Honesty & Communication; A Unique Perspective
Two fundamental parts of polyamory; honesty & communication. There is a unique dynamic between the two that allows for honesty to play off communication and the reverse to happen. Honesty is pointless without communication and communication is also pointless without honesty. The two together play a vital part of any relationship, including polyamorous relationships, which is what we will be focusing on today.
“Without communication there is no relationship. Without respect, there is no love. Without trust, there is no reason to continue.”
One of the most difficult points in any relationship is the fight. We all know what that is. Its when your partner comes home from a long day at work and notices something small that you didn’t do right. Let’s say you didn’t put the toilet seat down and you know you should have. Immediately your partner blows up. You are standing there just taking the aggression with little to say other than “I’m sorry.” Your partner leaves the room, frustrated and slams the door. You are left feeling helpless and irritated.
The Fight – Hunger & Exhaustion
Let’s take a look at why the fight happened and the issues surrounding the two people involved within this particular scenario. Person A came home from work. Person A is obviously tired. We all know fights tend to happen when someone is either tired or hungry, interesting enough, the same thing happens to animals. Its an instinct every living thing has. Looking back at the fight, person B didn’t fight back. They took the aggression, said they were sorry and backed off. Would better honesty and communication have done either person in this scenario any good? Person A was honest, and they were very clear about communicating their issue. Person B was honest as well, and communicated they were sorry. Honesty and communication could help some but not much. However, if we change the story a bit, maybe they can. (PS: There’s a lot to be said about choosing battles as well, which we’ll talk about another day!)
More than just talking
Let’s change our story. Instead of person A coming home from work, they came home from their weekly back massage. Person A is feeling relaxed and comfortable so they should have no reason for a simple toilet seat to trigger such an explosive reaction, yet it does. The story unfolds the same way, person B says they are sorry, backs off and stands there as person A leaves the room and slams the door. Could have better honesty and communication done something in this scenario? Heck yes it could have. Communication doesn’t mean simply just to be able to talk to someone, it also means to talk to someone as if they are a human being the same as you. Attacking someone outright in a loud manner doesn’t solve anything for anybody, especially if the hunger or exhaustion isn’t involved. Honesty also plays a roll here. Is person A really irritated about the toilet seat or is something deeper going on here? Typically when someone has an outburst of anger over something small, there is something much bigger going on in their life that is causing the frustration. This same theory applies to a triad, a quad, or even a poly single.
Clear, honest communication from all partners involved must be had for a fight to be resolved effectively.
That’s a bold statement you may be asking yourself. But let’s look at what really is going on in a fight without honesty. Lies? Partial truths? Honesty is key. The same goes with communication within a fight and outside of a fight as well. Being able to clearly express your opinion on a matter is just as important as being honest. If someone doesn’t communicate within the polyamorous group, what good does honesty do? Not much. Especially if they are unwilling to participate within group discussions. Communication is not a bash against shy partners. Being shy is perfectly fine as long as they are able to communicate their position on matters. Be sure to ask partners directly their thoughts on matters if someone is a bit shy within the group as louder members can easily talk over them.
Outside the fight
Honesty and communication plays a roll in nearly every aspect of a relationship, especially within a polyamorous relationship. We looked at the necessity of both during a fight, however, how does communication or honesty play a roll outside the relationship? I think you already know. Being fully honest about what happens on dates, what feelings are being felt, communicating clearly emotions about new partners your primary may have, etc. The same goes with communication, only instead of just being honest, you will also have to communicate your thoughts to others.
Having all partners be able to clearly communicate feelings while being 100% honest between each other is the golden grail of communication within a polyamorous group.
Know when to stop
There is something to be said about knowing when to stop when communicating. Does your partner really need to know all the details about your last sexual encounter? If they ask, tell them of course, but overly going into detail doesn’t help anyone, especially if there is any sort of jealousy involved or the relationship is still going through the NRE (new relationship energy) phase. Withholding details when asked is being dishonest, and not telling the full truth is also dishonest, so how does someone know when to stop? You’ll know. Watch your partner or partners as you talk to them and answer questions of course but remember, not all details is always needed. An obvious example is one of your partners asking you “Did you have sex with her on the date?” and your response is “Yes, we did.” Rather than going into detail about it “Yes, we did have sex. We had sex for 7 hours. We started in the living room and showered together…” The second response is clearly not necessary, but this is a bit of an exaggerated reply obviously as well.
It’s important to think of your partner’s feelings when responding. Communicate clearly and with complete honesty, but on certain subjects it’s expected not to go into detail unless asked directly.
Respect; the key
While we hear within the polyamorous community about communication and honesty every day, its rarely brought up (from what I’ve heard) anything about respect. What is communication and honesty without respect? What is respect without communication and honesty? Not much. So where does respect come in to play within a polyamorous relationship? Everywhere. Every time you interact with your partner or partners there is a certain level of respect. Remember the story we opened with? Person A came home from worked, fought with person B then slammed the door and walked out. Person A had little respect for person B by literally just blowing up on them for what appeared to be just a simple mistake. If person A had more respect for person B, the fight wouldn’t have escalated so quickly. Respect your partner’s feelings and emotions; nobody deserves to be torn down by a simple mistake. Try putting yourself in their shoes if you are unsure of how to approach someone about something.
So what happens to respect outside of a fight? Respecting your partner means more than respecting just their emotions and feelings. Let’s say you have two girlfriends, and your primary has one boyfriend. She decides to go out on a date with another guy, but it makes you uneasy by her seeing two guys rather than just one. You feel she may have less time for you now that she will be seeing three people at once. This brings up insecurities and perhaps jealousy on your part, but are you respecting your partner? No.
If you are able to do something yourself, you should allow your partner to do the same as well.
Take a step back and look at the situation. You are in the same shoes she is. You are able to see three people at once and still have time for her! Why wouldn’t it be the same for her? So take it from us, respect your partner, be clear when you communicate and of course, be honest!