Philisophical Musings

of an agnostic polyamorous heterosexual artistic soul

Drawing the short straw

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Relationships are not easy. We all know this. Just making things work out with one other significant person in your life can be a challenge enough. Bring another person into the equation and your challenges more than double. And what is the most discussed challenge of relating to multiple partners? That would have to be jealousy.

I can only truly say that I am still in the learning stages of how to relate to more than one person intimately. Even when one is very open to alternative ideas, the challenges remain. I can find it relatively easy to adjust my thinking in a certain direction to accommodate certain realities, but it is sometimes hard to judge how other partners will react. Each decision involves multiple opinions, as many as their are partners.

A common assumption made concerning PolyAmory is this idea that someone in the relationship will be coming up short. Someone will pick the ‘shorter straw’. But is this really true? Is it really always a case of one getting less, while the other gets more? Is it even possible to build a healthy relationship on the idea that there is always someone getting a raw deal? My instinct says ‘no’.

I believe that to really practice PolyAmory, partners must build an understanding amongst themselves that there actually is (or should be) no ‘short straw’. Every person involved in the relationship, unless specifically agreed upon, has a straw of the of the same length. Or, alternatively, you could say that everyone gets the short end of the straw. Let’s just say there are different types of straws: ‘daily’ straws, ‘special’ straws and ‘lifetime’ straws. I know, this may be taking an allegory too far, but bear with me… I think it will make sense.

Let’s start with the ‘lifetime’ straw. If one chooses to be in relationship with another person, let’s say a monogamous relationship, there is a certain amount of risk involved. It might be a perfect match, but more often than not, relationships run into barriers and potholes which make relating difficult. But, let’s say that this monogamous relationship is working. In terms of the possible risks taken, you might say that both partners have ‘drawn the long straw’. They have both chosen for a situation where they can both be happy. They both have a long ‘lifetime straw’.

Now, say partner One begins feeling trapped, or feels a need to make changes to the relationship, but doesn’t know how. This partner starts feeling inadequate, or unhappy. In this sense, you could say that partner One’s straw has gotten shorter. After all, if one person is happy in the relationship while the other is unhappy, there is a sense of imbalance or unfairness. This feeling of unfairness is what I refer to when I describe someone as having ‘drawn the short straw’. Interestingly enough, if one partner starts to feel unhappy in a relationship, it doesn’t take long until the other also is affected and becomes restless…in effect, partner Two’s straw also starts feeling ‘shorter’. It is probably impossible to say, at any given moment, which partner feels that their own straw is the shortest.

Now, we move on to the part of the relationship where partner One meets another (unhappy) person, partner Three, and finds other needs met in that new relationship. Clearly, partner Two is not going to feel that their straw is any longer… if anything, it just got shorter…again. On the other hand, partner Two, in the new relationship, has found more happiness in life. One may assume that partner Three is also happier in the new relationship, so in effect, yet another longer straw. Now we are left with partner Two, wondering how short the straw can still get. Eventually, it is conceivable that, if partner One feels happier and more complete moving between two relationships, partner Two can also regain some of her happiness in the relationship. After all, what point is there to being in relationship unless everyone is happy? As I said, it is conceivable, maybe not probable.

Conventional wisdom tells us that, in order to be happy, someone will have to leave this relational equation (better known as a ‘triad’). But who is to say that conventional wisdom is always right? This same wisdom would potentially mean that one of these three partners will remain unhappy while the remaining two, whichever they be, supposedly become even happier. Granted this is certainly very possible, and maybe the only practical way to solve the dilemma, I believe there is another possibility, which might not always be possible, but definitely is viable: PolyAmory.

to be cont…


Written by Philoman

February 14, 2011 at 11:53 am

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