I often find myself exploring the world of polyamory and being confronted by heaps of terminology, most that are too narrow or too broad, some that don’t relate to you and some that clarify everything. For this conversation, the term is going to be boundaries. We all have them and when these boundaries are crossed we feel uncomfortable. Sometimes with these boundaries, we use rules to respect those boundaries.
In the beginning, these rules worked for my partners and I. They got my partner and I out of any pickle and helped us learn where our boundaries even began. It was through a lot of rule breaking that we discovered these things about us. It wasn’t always pleasant but we made it through those moments.
Over the years I have stopped saying things like “I don’t want you to do this or that” and changed my word choice to “I don’t feel comfortable.” I made the effort to eliminate the word rules from my relationship because they were just begging to be broken. Instead, I choose to focus on respecting my partners’ boundaries.
The basic idea is that I respect my partner enough to not make them uncomfortable. I reasonably do my best to respect their boundaries. Of course, there are times when I know my partner is not comfortable with a particular situation but through discussion, it can be addressed.
The biggest thing in any relationship is the ability to communicate our concerns and boundaries while focusing on creating an understanding, rather than giving an ultimatum. I do my best to respect what my partners are comfortable with. I rely heavily on the term ‘boundaries’ in my daily life. I have come across so many people in different positions, that I realized the rules I placed on my partners were being broken simply because of outside variables. It had nothing to do with us! These circumstances created stress between my partners and me, solely based on the fact that a rule was broken more so than the action itself. Which was how I realized I didn’t need rules.
Boundaries can change over time. You decide those boundaries for yourself. Above all, I feel as though communication is key to making any relationship work and rules can sometimes allow us to avoid any uncomfortable situation but it doesn’t take away from the notion that they do arise and we are left with a choice of breaking a rule or not. Boundaries and rules are not synonymous in my book.
Everyone is different and I encourage everyone to share their ideas with others because it helps create a better understanding. Please check out the Polyamorous Living Facebook group to read others’ stories and questions.