Like many, Angel stumbled into polyamory quite by accident. She and her husband have been happily married for four years, and recently opened their marriage and their hearts to the possibility of poly relationships. She shares the ups and downs of being new to the lifestyle and navigating the emotional and practical issues that come along with it.

Previous editions of this column can be found in the Monthly Columns Archives.

The Mule Effect

Patience is not one of my strong points. My husband often teases that I "want everything yesterday" and I know that he is only half-joking, because part of me really does want everything to already be done and taken care of.

Boy am I ever learning a few lessons in patience these days. In order for poly relationships to get off the ground, and continue successfully, everyone involved must respect the speeds, however slow, that you partner(s) happen to be moving. We all learn and grow at our own pace. Trying to push, pull, or drag someone along at the same speed you are moving usually results in the "mule effect". They dig their heels in and refuse to budge a step farther. At that point you have to gather up all the patience you can muster, and allow them some personal space to start going forward again, and continue forward at their own pace. When it comes right down to it, there really isn't a need to rush.

When you are caught up in NRE you will find yourself particularly vulnerable to impatience. Most of us like to rush headlong into new relationships, caught up in the thrill of having someone different and exciting in our lives. Of course life would be much easier if our other partner(s) would be just as eager to welcome and love this new person, but that seems to be the exception rather than the norm.

I have found in my own brief experiences that it is very counter-productive to try and force or cajole a reluctant partner into adoring your new love interest. Especially when you are very new to poly and unsure of what you are doing. These are moments when you need patience the most. Your original partner(s) needs time to deal with insecurities, jealousy, and any number of other unexpected emotional reactions. It is in your best interest to afford them that time, and do so with love, not annoyance. Support them, encourage them, and give them the extra attention, space, time, or whatever else they need. Nine times out of ten they will surprise you and make progress much faster than if you had tried to force the issue.

If your new partner has never been in a poly relationship before special consideration and patience must be afforded them as well. It won't do any good to push them into a relationship faster than they are ready. It might be difficult for them to come to terms with being the 'outsider' to an established relationship(s), especially if the original relationship is between a married couple. They may feel like an interloper, even though they were invited into the relationship. They will likely fear causing turmoil in the original relationship, and perhaps worry about being blamed if the relationship/marriage eventually dissolves (even if their presence was not the cause). Plenty of time and space should be allowed while they work to overcome their own fears and unlearn social programming related to monogamy and relationships in general.

Patience truly is a virtue, but one that most of us have to learn over time, as it doesn't seem to come naturally in the copious amounts required for poly relationships. Going as slowly as the slowest partner, and slower still, will likely prevent a lot of stubborn resentment and hurt feelings in the long run.

Poly is not about getting to the finish line, it's about the journey, so take your time and remember that it's not a race.

Nobody's Angel is a contributing writer as well as a member of this online Community. She can be contacted here or through our message board Forums.

Nobody's Angel; March 15, 2006


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