Occasionally, whenever I’ll post about negotiating relationship agreements for people new to polyamory, I’ll hear from dissatisfied polyamorous veterans about it:
“I don’t even use a relationship agreement. You don’t really need one if you know the people involved, and everyone communicates well, and you have experience.”
“Polyamorous newbies always have so many dumb things in their relationship agreements. Don’t they know better?”
Well, for starters, that’s not a kind way to put it. And also no, they might not know better. Odds are that you didn’t know better either once upon a time (although many people will recount their history in revisionist terms and claim that they sprung forth from the womb with perfect knowledge, I’ve found that this isn’t really how it goes).
Look, as someone who has a lot of experience with polyamory, I get where you’re coming from. When I’m working with beginners, I do in fact teach a lot about tools I personally don’t need very often anymore. These days, it’s fairly easy for me to communicate my expectations to new partners. And when it comes to my nesting partner and I, we have a scary level of “in-sync” when it comes to understanding what’s acceptable to one another.
But was it always this way for me? No way.
And I did in fact find relationship agreements helpful when I started out new to polyamory. Frankly, a lot of people do. Yes, you may find with time and experience that you outgrow the practice, but that doesn’t mean that there’s no place for relationship agreements. They’re simply a tool that’s intended for a different stage than you’re in. That’s all. No more, no less.
I get it. It’s easy to forget where you started.
But look, relationship agreements are fantastic when people find them helpful. And if you feel like you’ve personally outgrown them, then that’s a big positive! It’s a kind of a success for you personally.
But that doesn’t mean that using them is a failure state for someone else. They’re at a different stage in their life and their learning — and for all you know, they have different needs and different people they’re dealing with.
Anyway, that’s mostly what I wanted to say today: When you outgrow your relationship, it’s a kind of success — not an indictment of relationship agreements.