PQ 6.3 — If my partners have a problem with someone else’s behavior, do I encourage them to bring it up with that person?
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been that person others feel safe telling things to.
It can have its benefits. Close friendships. Getting to hear interesting things. And feeling like you’re generally in the know.
But it does have its downsides. While it can be colorful when a stranger decides to tell you their life story on the bus, sometimes? You just want to read your damn book.
And when friends and lovers are all confiding in you, you can easily find yourself in a difficult spot. Or twelve.
Even before I was polyamorous, I had definitely been in situations where two friends were complaining to me about each other. And it was agony when I could see that there had been a miscommunication that could be easily cleared up if they would only stop talking to me and start talking to each other.
So I would urge each to address it with the other, only to be told, “No way, they wouldn’t get it.” Or at best brushed off with a non-committal “maybe later” that would never happen.
And doing anything more? Wasn’t possible. They swore me to secrecy. As much as I’d like to say, “I’m talking to her, too. You’re both saying the same things. If you’d talk, everything would be fine,” I couldn’t.
It’s much the same in polyamory. You do the best that you can. You listen to people, support them. Provide emotional labor to those who reciprocate. And when you find yourself stuck in the middle listening to complaints from partners? Especially repetitive ones that aren’t one-time venting? Actually something that need to be addressed?
You encourage your partners to bring it up with that person. You encourage the heck out of them.
It’s surprising, really, how often when people ask for my advice that it’s the same bottom line: Talk to them about it.
This post is part of a series in which I answer each of the chapter-end questions in More than Two with an essay. For the entire list of questions & answers, please see this indexed list.