How to Fail at Communication Before You Say a Single Word

a shadowy silhouette of a marionette puppet with visible strings
Image by Dairo Cervantes / CC BY

Hi Page, 

I love the blog! Been reading it for a while. I’ve been learning more about polyamory the last few years, and I’ve realised that I’m probably polyamorous. Trouble is I’m in a relationship with a woman who is very monogamous. I would love to be able to explore all the love I feel, but I’m not sure how she would take it. How do I get my partner to agree to open our relationship? What should I say to her? 

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I get asked a lot of questions that are phrased like this: “How do I get my partner to…?” Do a certain thing. Feel a certain way.

Inevitably, my advice comes down to the same bottom line. There are no hacks. No shortcuts. No magic words.

It’s not something people relish, but the truth is this: The most valuable communication involves risk.

There’s no way to stack the deck to ensure your desired outcome. You say your piece, and they decide what they want to do with that information.

Communication Matters, But Not As Much As Vulnerability, Courage, or Integrity

“Communicate, communicate, communicate.” It’s practically the unofficial motto of polyamory.

But the truth is that communication isn’t the most important part of polyamory. Vulnerability, courage, and integrity are.

Communication matters of course, but the reason that communication matters is so we can create a shared understanding of what integrity looks like. And to do that properly, we need the courage to be vulnerable.

This means we need to be open to other people having feelings, wants, and needs that are incompatible with our own. If you can’t honestly say that you are, then you’ve missed the most important step. You’ve failed at communication before you say a single word.

So here’s what you do: Lower your shields. Put yourself out there. Be honest about what you want and how you feel but don’t be directive about what you think she should do. Don’t tell her what she wants. Ask her. And whatever that is, accept it.

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My book is out!

Poly Land: My Brutally Honest Adventures in Polyamory

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1 Comment

  1. This message really resonates with me. I was married for 25 years to a woman who was completely monogamous. I never believed in a single love but didn’t have the words to express it. I found myself hiding my true feelings and desires. Since my divorce, I choose to live a nonmonogomous life. I still find myself trying to shelter my partners feelings and keep my walls up. When I am able to be vulnerable, it usually works out. I have some work to do.

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