I say this to those closest to me quite a bit: you can’t hurt me with the truth.
What I mean by this is:
- More information is better – because I don’t know what I don’t know. You may be feeling something you’re afraid to admit – but I can’t help you if you don’t name it. Also, knowing you’re in a bad place but not knowing why will lead me to imagine the worst.
- Negativity breeds in captivity – and holding onto a bad feeling or a resentment won’t make it better. Once you’ve sat with something for a moment to understand what you’re reacting to, it’s best to speak your truth. At the very least, you get to give voice to your experience. Best case? I get to own my piece and we both get to move forward.
- I want to help – because if I’m in a relationship with you (romantic or otherwise), I want to invest in your happiness and security. I can’t fix your problems, but I can hear you, and I can do things differently (if I need to) or hold your hand (if that’s helpful).
And while all of these are important to remember when communicating in any relationship, they are of critical importance when you’re navigating the polyamorous landscape.
I could go on and on about why, but I think an illustrative example will best explain what I mean.
Say I’m out with two partners. Things are going swimmingly in our little pod until suddenly I sense a disturbance in the mutual-affection continuum! Perhaps someone gets a little quiet as they experience an unexpected feeling, or maybe someone said something that was misunderstood or landed wrong. In any case – we all sense a discomfort. For one of us, we’re holding back on saying what’s wrong for fear of burdening the other two with what might be nothing. For the other two, we’re stuck not knowing what the heck is going on or what we may have done and how to fix it. This could get yucky, fast
Sound familiar? It’s the first step on the path to increased insecurity, uncertainty, and misunderstanding . . . and it’s a deadly practice in a polyamorous situation. Bad enough when only two are involved, but the potential for disaster in polyamory is multiplied by the number of relationships, as everyone is affected.
Know these things:
- It’s okay to misunderstand someone and ask for clarification – it’s not okay to assume the worst and build a massive resentment against them without giving them a chance to explain. You will rarely hear me call something “unfair” but this really is. To everyone.
- It’s okay to have a feeling that makes you uncomfortable – but I assure you, the people who care about you most want to make you feel secure. Letting them do what they can in the moment shows you trust them. It gives them an opportunity to make a change if necessary, or to just listen to you say what’s real for you.
- And like I always say: you can’t hurt someone with the truth – there is no ill intent in speaking your truth. Just saying how you feel is not a demand for special treatment or accommodation. It’s not a tantrum. It’s not a punishment or accusation.You can’t hurt someone with honesty.
I am lucky enough to be partnered with people (and they are partnered with people) who value communication, directness, and honesty. I don’t know how to do polyamory any other way. The anxiety birthed by unspoken bad feelings and multiplied between us is too much to bear. An investment in direct and rigorous honesty has brought a depth to my relationships that I cannot fathom living without.
So know this also: Your feelings are always valid, even if they’re a product of something you wish you weren’t dealing with. So, out with them! It’s not as scary as it seems. You may even find your connections stronger for it in the end.