Curious Fox Social January 2019: Relationship Transitions
Non monogamous relationships come in all shapes and sizes. Because of the nature of an endless possibility of configurations, all sorts of unique solutions to allow for accommodation come to rise. We were delighted to greet a roomful of Foxes this month at our first Curious Fox Social of the year where we took on a conversation about relationship transitions.
Our brave panelists brought a diverse collection of relationship arrangements and were able to reflect on the stages of their evolving relationships.
On the panel was an engaged couple, Alex and Ryan. Alex explained that the two had decided to explore an open relationship nine months ago after deciding that monogamy was not sustainable for either of them. Alex was attracted to the polyamorous ideals of openness and self awareness. What initially began as a way to meet new kink and sexual partners gradually evolved into a full polyamorous relationship. Ryan adds that their polyamory has evolved over the months but they have finally settled into a pace that works for them.
Joining the couple was G, who was recently a part of a conscious uncoupling from a relationship that began over a decade ago. She says the two were monogamous for eleven years but decided to open up when they realized their relationship was failing. They realized that exploring non monogamy together was reigniting the flame in their relationship. After twelve years, the two decided they no longer wanted to cohabitate, then, decided to split shortly after. The former couple is still friendly and G is exploring solo poly.
Next up was SheVaugn, who was introduced to polyamory in 2014. Their journey began after they met a couple at a bar and immediately took interest in both. They were amazed that taking interest in both parties in a couple didn’t resolve in a fight. The triad continued with a long distance relationship for nine months before SheVaugn decided to visit the two in Ohio for two weeks. That two week visit turned into three and a half years and concluded with SheVaugn leaving the triad and moving back to New York. Even so, they look back on the relationship positively and appreciate that for a while they allowed their relationship to be what it needed to be and that they always allowed each other room for change. However, because SheVaugn was the third joining a couple, they often felt like they were the one compromising.
Our final panelist introduction was Alan, who shared his experience with a partner he started dating at 17 and married at 22. They often spent summers apart because Alan’s partner would work on a farm out of state.During one of these periods apart, Alan realized that he was unhappy with their living situation. This prompted a discussion and a re-evaluation of their relationship and interests. The two are no longer romantically or sexually involved, but they are still legally married and best friends. Like G, Alan is exploring solo poly.
The panel was moderated by Effy Blue, a relationship coach focusing on non-monogamy, who shared her recent relationship transition experience of cohabitating with her life partner. They are currently tackling the experience of adding roommate dynamics to their romantic relationship.
The discussion started with a question for Effy about her experience with bringing other partners home while living with a partner. The asker was curious about whether a protocol had been decided on. Effy noted that she and her partner had not yet dealt with that sort of experience but they are lucky enough to live in a two bedroom apartment where one of the bedrooms is set up to accommodate that kind of experience. Effy redirected the question to Ryan and Alex who live together. Ryan explained that neither he or Alex have individually brought a partner home to spend the night but he clarifies that they invite their reoccurring partners home to meet each other. Alex interjected to say that she is often out late so she is very open to the idea of Ryan bringing another partner home on an evening when she is not home.
The panel moved on to another question directed at the panelists who have recently experienced an uncoupling transition about how they have reached the point of talking about their former partners in such a positive way. G started us off by pointing out that just because a relationship ends doesn’t mean it wasn’t worth while. SheVaugn and Alan agreed with this statement and SheVaugn explained that they didn’t think they were crazy during the entirety of their relationships. Alan clarified that he still considers his former romantic partner his partner, and the relationship evolved because of his own specific needs that weren’t being met and not because of any unresolved hard feelings towards him and his partner.
Someone else was curious about how our panelists learned while they were beginning their poly journey. Specifically, the audience member asked whether they wish they were told everything they needed to know and if they regret learning through mistakes. Alex was able to offer her experience of trying to fit a monogamous structure into a poly relationship. In the beginning, she was not used to sharing her thoughts and desires about/for new partners because social scripting had convinced her that it was wrong to share those feelings. Not being able to share caused her and Ryan a lot of unnecessary pain she wish could have been avoided. Effy added that often you can create rules about what you feel you would be comfortable with in your intellectual mind but, in reality, you have no idea how you may feel when it actually happens. At some point, you have to have experiences and then come back and refine your relationship agreements based on how those experiences made you feel.
Another audience member shared his experience with opening up his relationship after being monogamous for 11 years. He expressed his concerns with how much the dating game has changed and asked for advice from our panelists who have also recently opened up a longterm monogamous relationship. Effy pointed out that the best way to learn about how you can improve in dating is to ask the people you are dating for feedback. She said that poly relationships can be especially helpful in self improvement because often you have more than one person giving you the same feedback. Ryan offered his experience with ghosting. In his experience, he struggles the most when someone ghosts him if he feels that he hasn’t accurately portrayed who he is. He has reframed his thinking to be compassionate for the other person because he understands that having difficult conversations is hard for many people. Effy also warned that poly culture can become all encompassing for some newly transitioning into it. She recommends not to build your entire relationship on being poly.
The conversation shifted to a question about how you ensure that other partners will not interfere with a core relationship. SheVaugn offers that sometimes with polyamorous relationships, adding another relationship to the dynamic calls for a complete reevaluation. Things like time and living situations need to be discussed to make sure everyone’s needs are being met. Ryan mentions that it is often hard for him. Especially in the beginning, he had to face his fears around abandonment and inadequacy.
Our final question addressed the people who are becoming part of a core relationship. Our audience member voiced that he didn’t think it was fair if the amount of time he wanted out of a relationship was being negotiated by his metamour. G shared that she is exploring the world of nonhierarchical polyamory and that the sentiments of it are in line with the asker’s concerns. SheVaugn interjects by saying that they follow the “campfire rule” when it comes to this scenario which means that they try to leave the space better than when they found it.
In conclusion, non monogamous people are an adaptive bunch. Because non monogamous allows room for atypical, often nonlinear relationship transitions, many people have complex relationships with their partners or former partners that are often difficult to define. We will continue to explore these important topics in our discussions regardless of the focus for the month.
If you were able to join us, thank you for coming! If not, we hope this summary was helpful and we hope to see you soon.