PQ 14.2 — Does the agreement serve the purpose it is intended to serve?

A photograph of a handshake. The hand on the left has the words "you are" on it, and the hand on the right has the words "not alone" on it, so when read left to right, they read "you are not alone."

PQ 14.2 — Does the agreement serve the purpose it is intended to serve?

*

“So we got around to the Big Talk,” she says.

“Oh? The opening up talk?” I say.

She nods. “Been putting it off for a while. I was so scared at how it would go.”

“I remember,” I say.

She smiles.

“And?”

“Oh, it went really well,” she says.

“Yay!”

“I thought he was gonna bite my head off at the mere suggestion. But it turns out he’s been toying with the idea himself, just didn’t know how to bring it up.”

“Well, that’s convenient,” I say.

She slides two sheets of typing paper to me across the table. I move my coffee out of the way, take a look. It’s a relationship agreement.

“What do you think?” she asks.

I read it. It seems pretty okay. There are a few parts in the middle where some of it isn’t clear to me what the agreement means. But I ask her, and she explains. She then carefully marks the sections where I had questions and writes quick notes as a way of elaborating. “I’ll address that in the next draft,” she says.

I smile. “I love that you’re doing drafts. You’re taking this whole thing seriously. That bodes well.”

“Thanks,” she says. “Now I just gotta see what he thinks of it.”

I nearly choke on my coffee. “You haven’t shown this to your partner? This was all you drawing things up?”

She nods.

“Is he doing one, too? Are you going to get together and negotiate a mutual one?” I ask.

She shakes her head, furrowing her brow. “No, is that a problem?”

“Well,” I say. “It’s just… usually an agreement that covers multiple people has everyone’s input. Or should, anyway.”

“He told me to just do it myself. That he didn’t want to bother with it,” she says. “Too much work.”

Oh dear. For the first time I’m worried about them. “Sure, it can be some work,” I say. “But so is actually having an open relationship. Learning to talk about things most people never feel comfortable discussing. Managing feelings of insecurity. Now, I’ve found it to be worth it in the long run. But it is a lot of work.”

She’s quiet, visibly uncomfortable.

“And agreements are first and foremost about making sure everyone understands, so they can give informed consent. That’s not exactly possible if they’re drawn up unilaterally.”

She sighs. “As I’m listening to you say that, it makes so much sense. I feel stupid not realizing it.”

“You’re not stupid,” I say. “You’re new to all this. And at least you were planning on checking in after the fact to see what he thinks. Get his seal of approval. I just feel like it works better if he’s at least a small part of the process of drawing it up before then.”

“Could you talk to him for me? Explain all of what you just said,” she says.

“I’ve got a better idea,” I say. “How about we talk to him together?”

*

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 and answers, please see this indexed list.

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