Ask PolyAnna: Must we all get along?

Do you think it is possible for a poly relationship to survive if two of the three (or four, or five) partners do not get along?

Maybe, maybe not, I don’t know. I think every relationship is different and there are so many factor which go into long term relationship success. I have spent the summer pondering this question. I can offer a few examples.

My husband and I approached our open relationship, in the beginning, as a “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” style arrangement. While we have abandoned this at this point, I think we still stick to having some level of distance between each other’s other partners. This does not mean we have not shared meals or drinks or gallery openings or cocktail parties with our partners and each other, but in general, particularly in my husband’s case, he does not actively encourage a relationship between me and his other partner.

Saturday, in a post, my BFF offers an example from her life, specifically how her relationships with her partners’ partners differ. Both of these partnerships, I think, fall into the category of long term relationships. The level of intimacy differs greatly.

I know other couples who only seek to form triad relationships and others where I think the parties go out of their way to find other partners who are radically different from existing partners.

I think in situations like poly families, it comes down to three very important components:

1. Respect. Basic human respect. Treat others as you would want to be treated.

2. Intimacy. Be clear how much intimacy you are seeking or willing to entertain. Communicate this boundary to your partner most importantly and I think secondarily to all other parties involved. Remember, just because your partner is madly in love with someone, you may not be nor should you feel compelled to force it. It is dangerous fun trying to force an attraction or a relationship where there is none.

3. Avoid being snarky or talking smack about other partners. Remember what your kindergarten teacher told you, “if you don’t have something nice to say, then don’t say anything at all.”

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