How Do I Know If My Rules Are Reasonable In My Poly Relationship?
What is “reasonable” to ask for in a relationship?
Find out with Cathy Vartuli from http://www.TheIntimacyDojo and Reid Mihalko and http://www.ReidAboutSex.com as they disagree and debate.
Cathy: Hi Reid and Cathy. I really need some advice and someone to tell me if the rule I have in my poly relationship is reasonable or not. My primary partner has started dating someone else for the first time in 6 years. I support her 100%. I have just 1 rule that I like my girlfriend to follow. I want her to let me know 24 hours in advance if she’s planning on sleeping in her girlfriend’s house. I find myself waiting up for my partner to come home and I hate getting a call at midnight saying she won’t be coming home tonight. It disturbs my sleep and makes me feel disrespected that she never plans ahead of time. Do you think 24 hours [inaudible 00:00:35] is unreasonable? Any other suggestions on how to deal with this? Thank you guys so much.
Reid: We can’t answer this question. Goodbye.
Cathy: This is Reid Mihalko from http://www.ReidAboutSex.com.
Reid: Cathy Vartuli from http://www.TheIntimacyDojo.com. Here’s my quick, quick version on this. If you are somebody who can plan in advance and you know what your schedule is like always 24 hours in advance, you’re amazing, you’re unbelievable. Thumbs up for you and all other people like you. And it has been my experience in coaching and working with lots of people that people like that tend to really be attractive to the people who kind of can’t plan.
Cathy: Hence, even this business relationship run. Of course it’s reasonable to have 24 hour rule, of course you can plan ahead.
Reid: I’m like, no. It’s like, the win-win is how do you plan for when you don’t get what you want. Wisdom!
Cathy: Actually, I have a totally different take but go ahead.
Reid: Good. This is great. Well, I’ll go. Again, you can have the intentions to try to do that thing but if you’re dating somebody who’s not good at delivering on that, guess what’s probably going to happen. What’s going to happen is even if they do great for the next 2 years, they’re going to screw up at some point and it’s probably going to be like those 2 years never even counted. What I would look for is what is the third solution where everybody gets to win. Figure out what your need is. Are you worried that they’re hurt, that they’re stranded somewhere?
Figure out what the need is you’re trying to get met underneath and then see if you can come up with a third solution that is the fallback and then when they can’t tell you a day in advance that they’re planning on sleeping over at somebody’s house, that’s great versus when it’s late, they both ate too much turkey or something, they both fell asleep cuddling and now you’re pissed that their unintentional sleepover occurred. If you can get okay with the unintentional sleepover and get okay with the fact that they’re just not great at planning and find a win-win then things just become a lot easier. I’m not saying it’s not okay for you to have the rule but when you create rules that you know your partners are ill-equipped to deliver on, I can get some weird, that’s not the smartest rule you could be trying to create. That’s my take. Cathy Vartuli, go for it.
Cathy: I think in any relationship, there’s no unreasonable request. It’s not about reasonable or unreasonable, it’s about what you and your partner can come up with that you both can follow. It may be that your girlfriend really sucks at this, like Reid said, but that doesn’t make your need to know what’s happening ahead of time go away. Your need is valid, there’s nothing wrong with having that need, for whatever reason. Looking at different ways to fulfill it is fine. Maybe you’ll assume that she’s going to sleepover and she sleeps on the couch if she decides she changes her mind. Maybe that works for you or maybe she has in the next 3 months, she has 3 times she can be wrong and come home even though she said she’s going to be out. There isn’t an unreasonableness about asking for something. You get to have your need and it’s partly like what is the agreement you made with your partner. If your partner agrees with it, whether they’re ill-equipped or not to meet it, it’s their responsibility to meet it.
Reid: Yeah. But if you’re ill-equipped, that means they can’t meet it often so you’ll be left feeling like they don’t love you.
Cathy: I think that kind of like …
Reid: I have a rule that your new puppy is not allowed to pee anywhere in the house.
Reid: That’s a weird example.
Reid: Do you realize that to make that rule for somebody who just got a puppy means you are committing yourself to at least the next 8 months of frustration?
Cathy: But see, you’re disempowering her girlfriend at saying, “Oh! She’s just not capable so she doesn’t have to honor our agreements.”
Reid: No. That’s why I said, finding the third thing.
Cathy: I think that it’s okay to ask for what she wants.
Reid: Totally okay to ask but making a rule about it, I think it’s just doing is asking for trouble. That’s what a question, he asks if it’s okay to make a rule. I said yes.
Cathy: It’s absolutely okay to make rules especially if it’s your bottom line.
Reid: Make a rule that wins. If it’s a bottom line, why are you dating somebody who doesn’t know how to plan in advance?
Cathy: She hasn’t dated someone else, it’s the first time she’s dated someone else in 6 years.
Cathy: They’re in new territory.
Reid: That’s exciting. You should be celebrating this.
Cathy: She asks if it is reasonable. I don’t think it’s about reasonable she gets to ask for what she wants.
Cathy: It’s okay to try to find other alternatives.
Cathy: It’s not like, “Oh! I’m bad at that so I don’t have to do it.” That seems very disempowering to the other girlfriend.
Reid: I’m pragmatist and my [inaudible 00:06:22] is date your species.
Cathy: You can date someone who’s very close to your species and there’s going to be some areas that are out so you’re going to have some areas of conflict no matter what you do. If you’re treating your partner like an adult who can use their words and honor their agreements, it’s not a bad thing. If your girlfriend agrees to that rule then I’d say yeah, sure, you don’t have to make be 100% correct all the time, you can be off. You can give a free pass a few times but otherwise, go sleep on the couch.
Reid: Go sleep on the couch means what?
Cathy: When she’s coming in, she’s waking her up.
Reid: So this is all about don’t wake me up?
Cathy: She wants to know where her girlfriend is. At some relationships, we want to know where our partner is. It’s okay. I know you’re this wild free spirit but some people do actually like to know where their partner is.
Reid: She’s at her girlfriend’s house.
Cathy: Maybe. Maybe she was like lost or she’s out of gas somewhere down the street. My brain does this thing, I totally get her.
Reid: If she’s out of gas down the street and her phone has battery, she’s probably called. If she hasn’t called, she’s probably fell asleep. It’s not that she doesn’t want you. It’s not that she’s trying to destroy your relationship.
Cathy: We have very different views on dating.
Reid: I get it but the thing … what do you think we should do?
Cathy: Yes. We’re fighting.
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