“But” Statements in Relationships

You don’t need to be poly to take some pages from the poly book. The majority of polyamorous relationships spend a lot of time working on being better communicators. Not because poly people are better communicators to begin with, or even that they care about their relationships more. Poly people have to work on communication because without it their relationships would crash and burn pretty quickly. Some issues that a monogamous couple can sweep under the rug can cause serious problems faster. I like to say that poly can highlight the best, and the worst parts of an existing relationship. Transitioning from a closed to an open relationship takes all of the little cracks in your relationship and bursts them wide open. I don’t think this is a reason to avoid poly, but an opportunity to be a better communicator. I am not naturally a good communicator. I have to actively focus on explaining my actions and feelings to lovers, and establishing my boundaries as I tend to be a very inward focused person.

I love you, but…

No one wants to hear that statement. Saying ‘but’ unintentionally takes whatever you said before and disqualifies it. Now obviously ‘I love you, but…’ is an extreme example. Take the but out of your statement and put another connecting word, and you are getting somewhere. “I love you, and I’m feeling a little stressed out about how dirty the apartment is”. Telling your partner that you love them and value the relationship even if you are unhappy about something sets a much more peaceful tone for a conversation.

Understanding your Relationship Style

One of the best books I have ever read about relationships isn’t about poly at all. Why Marriages Succeed or Fail: And How You Can Make Yours Last by John PhD Gottman focuses on the fact that dynamics between people are different, and uses very extensive studies to back up what makes relationships work. He covers how fighting doesn’t always have be a bad thing, and that some relationships will be more stable but less passionate, and how to communicate with different personality types. Overall, what I learned from this book aside from don’t get married just because it seems like the right thing to do, is that you should keep your buts in your pants and start using “I” statements.

Start Talking About Your Feelings

I know, icky. Not everyone can just be honest about what they are feeling, and even less can take that as a symptom of WHY they might be feeling that way. I believe that this is critical in poly relationships, because sometimes how you feel is based in issues and insecurities that are internal and have nothing to do with what your partner is. When someone tells me they could never be poly because they feel jealous, I always want to say “and?”. Jealousy is a yucky emotion that is based a lot on a persons insecurities. A person who is confident in their partner and trusts them to do what is in their best interests can still feel jealous, but taking that emotion and understanding why is much more important than limiting what your partner can do because of what you are feeling.

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