PQ 9.1 — Is my partner asking me to give up control of my autonomy, my body or my emotions?
My autonomy? My body? My emotions? Oh good lord no, PQ 9.1! I’d be making a call around to my friends to get my ass out of that situation. There are at least 3 dozen Lifetime movies implied by this question.
I’m sure most people around me would answer “no way.”
But that doesn’t make for a very good essay. And besides, if I look at the question with more nuance, it’s easy to think of patterns that people fall into easy that are much more subtle.
Giving Up Autonomy
As I mentioned in PQ 5.5, transitioning from a monogamous marriage to a polyamorous one involved becoming profoundly more autonomous. And so it was a rude awakening when I met other long-time polyamorous couples that didn’t function autonomously. Who seemed to micromanage each other’s schedules. Hovered like overbearing parents. I boggled. I imagined it was borne out of a sense to make both halves feel secure. But instead it seemed like they were combining the worst parts of polyamory (the complexity/complications) with the worst parts of monogamy (the relationship policing).
Another big trap I see people walking into is emotionally invalidating each other. Emotional invalidation is when someone’s feelings are rejected, ignored, or judged. Even if it’s in small ways.
This can take many forms. A few common ones involve telling someone they shouldn’t feel the way that they do. For example, “You’re overreacting.” “That’s ridiculous.”
Or telling someone that they don’t feel the way that they say they do. “You say you’re calm, but I know better. I know you’re really pissed.” “You say you’re happy, but I know you aren’t.” “You’re not angry. I know when you’re angry.”
It’s actually shocking how common small incidents of this are. I’m not proud, but I’ve caught myself dismissing inadvertently someone’s emotions with the all-too-quick “Oh, it’s not so bad” or “cheer up.”
Taken by themselves, a lot of these small behaviors? Probably aren’t huge earth-shaking boundary violations. But I’m always of the opinion that it’s important to pay attention to the small things before they turn into larger issues.
So heads up, kids! Do you want to end up in a Lifetime movie?
I think not.
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.