If You’re Worried About Your Partner Leaving You, Go See A Fucking Movie

“How can I be sure my partner won’t leave me?”

If there’s a Poly Greatest Hits album, that track is #3, right after the smash hit “How Do You Deal With Jealousy?” and everyone’s favorite poly anthem, “You Can’t Be In Love With More Than One Person.”

But I won’t lie. Partners leaving happens all the time when people open up their relationships.

Fortunately, my wife gave me some great advice for that one.

See, back when my wife and I were on the verge of getting divorced – a divorce, I should add, that had zippo to do with polyamory, as we were monogamous at the time – we fought.

We fought every moment of every day, because we had to. We had so many goddamned issues to deal with! I was too insecure! Gini hid her emotions! We kept slamming ultimatums onto the table and then walking them back!

God, we were two inept carpenters trying to patch a leaky boat in a storm. All of our interactions were about Fixing The Relationship – and to this day, the words “The Relationship” make both of us shudder, because The Relationship became this huge ongoing chore that we were eternally battling to repair. There wasn’t a conversation we had that didn’t eventually metastasize into some problem with The Relationship.

Eventually, Gini lost her shit at me.

“Can’t we just go out somewhere?” she cried. “Have a dinner! See a movie! Forget all of the reasons we’re not getting along, and try to remember why we fucking liked one another once?!?”

“That won’t work!” I cried back. “We need to fix The Relationship first!”

We did need to fix The Relationship, it was true. But at that point, after having spent the better part of a year constantly fighting, we’d sort of forgotten why we wanted The Relationship. We were together largely because we’d gotten married and moved in together, lashed to each other by a combination of stubbornness and logistics.

What we needed to do was to remember why we liked each other.

We had a leaky boat, and a storm. But what we actually needed was a dinner and a movie and some sexy cuddlings afterwards that gave us a lighthouse on the shore. That was what we were heading towards.

That’s how you handle your partner leaving.

It’s counterintuitive, sure, but what I see a lot in the early days of polyamory is too much struggling to keep The Relationship among the other, newer lovers, and too few reminders of the tremendous love you’ve actually got at the core.

What happens is that they go out on a date with someone new, have a great time, and come back to discover their old partner’s a wretched mess. And then they go out for drinks and dinner with the old partner, and the old partner spends the entire time moping, asking plaintively if they’re really having a good time, they just feel so insecure these days…

…let’s talk about The Relationship.

(If I sound a bit harsh here, I assure you: I am this person.)

And slowly but surely, the old relationship transforms into this leaky boat with no lighthouse, just a lot of work to keep this pitching, yawing boat afloat, and they wonder “Wait, why am I stuck on Leaky Boat when there’s a wonderful yacht over there?”

And the problem is that the wonderful yacht is, in truth, often just as leaky as the boat you just left – you just haven’t been asked to do any patchwork on it yet. You’ll see a lot of partners swimming from boat to boat, continually astonished that whoah, this boat is a fixer-upper too.

As someone who tilts towards the “neurotic” end of the spectrum, I am not saying never to talk about The Relationship. Sometimes, you’re insecure when your partner goes out, and you need to talk about it. Sometimes you gotta do the heavy work of patching a leak before it capsizes the relationship.

But what I often see beginning poly couples do is getting so wrapped around the axle of “What if they leave me?” – spending so much time comparing everything they do to this new person, they forget to reserve time to do the wonderful experiences that only they can provide for each other.

Truth is, your partner started dating you because they saw something wondrous in you – and the trick to most successful poly relationships is making that homecoming feel more like a joy than a chore.

You have to talk, sure. You have to negotiate, sure. Don’t eat your feelings. But don’t make my idiot mistake and forget to also go out for dinner and a movie and some sexy cuddles along the way, because once your relationship turns into The Relationship, it’s awful hard to keep it afloat.

1 Comment

  1. keth
    Jun 22, 2016

    I’ve often thought that THE Relationship becomes like a third person, almost, in a relationship of two, in that it takes on a life of its own, needs to be fed, nurtured, and remembered, constantly – and that’s with a mongamous relationship. God help those who do polyamory, with more THE Relationships to deal with… ! I simply do not know how you do it, how you manage the time and so on. But I do agree: sometimes it does the world of good to shut THE Relationship in the house and go out on a date with your beloved. Thank you!

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