Friday, May 11, 2007

A Strange New World of Emotion

In my own experience and that of others, too, when we are new at polyamory and sorting it all out emotionally, it is not at all uncommon to experience feelings other than what we anticipate once we are actually in a set of circumstances for the first time. The good news is that you can be prepared for that possibility, thus avoiding the necessity of sorting it all out in the heat of emotion brought on by our own or a partner's unpleasant, unanticipated reaction.

Don't be too hard on yourself or your partner if one or both of you ends up in this situation. Even the most together, emotionally intelligent poly people I know say they've experienced this, especially when they were new to polyamory. It's common to sometimes underestimate the strength of the emotions that arise in new poly situations, for example, for some, the first time our partner goes out the door to be with someone new.

I've heard stories about people ending up in significant conflict with hostile accusations being made because a situation turned out differently than one was led to expect. The emotions are understandable, however unreasonable the expectation turns out to be. But that's the point - when new to poly, it's very difficult to anticipate whether an expectation is reasonable. I think the fewer expectations the better, generally speaking.

When establishing boundaries and making agreements with significant others involving emotion-laden issues, consider acknowledging the following at the outset:

“I imagine that when I'm in X situation, I'll feel Y. It's possible I'm wrong about that. Instead of developing expectations from what we believe will happen, let's agree to wait and see how it all plays out. After it does we will be in a better position to adjust our mutual agreement and understanding since we will better know what we are dealing with."

By using inclusive language, your partner(s) and you are actually affirming a mutual desire for honesty and clarity. Making such a pact can be very bonding.

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