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On the More Than Two blog, we've written about a question asked by one of our backers: "What do I do if two of my partners don't get along with each other?" We're certainly getting a workout with our backer questions!

This blog post is a dialog between Eve and me. Here's the teaser:

Franklin: I’ve been in this situation from every angle: having a partner who doesn’t get along with one of my other partners, being the person a partner’s other partner doesn’t cotton to, and having a partner who’s involved with someone I don’t particularly like. [...] When you’re the one who’s in the middle, caught between two partners who aren’t getting along…well, it kinda sucks. It can be easy to end up feeling pulled in two directions. I don’t have a magic solution, though I certainly admire the problem.

Eve: In my experience, it can be hard to hold multiple relationships together without the active support of all your partners for the other relationships, especially if you live with one of them. Situations where partners are just tolerating each other may have a steady undercurrent of stress that can be damaging and hard to manage. But it can be done, and whether you can or want to do it depends a lot on your own coping, communication and boundary-setting skills; your emotional health; and how important both partners are to you.

I don’t have a solution, either, but I think we can offer some management strategies.


The whole post is here. I'd love to hear from folks who've been in this position! Experiences? Thoughts? Strategies? Feel free to reply here or over there.

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Comments

( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
alexmegami
Sep. 29th, 2013 07:41 pm (UTC)
I'm curious how this functions when it's not between other partners, but say family members who insist on thinking the relationship is damaging regardless of how the people involved feel, just because it's poly...
tacit
Sep. 29th, 2013 08:30 pm (UTC)
Family members as in family of origin (non-romantic family members)?

I'm not sure there's a way to make people who aren't poly see the value of polyamory. We all filter the world through our own perceptions. If a person feels that polyamory would be damaging to them,, they'll likely project that onto others--seems like the way we're wired as a species, really.

I've always dealt with this a bit from my father, who goes back and forth between "heh heh, my son is such a stud, heh heh, he has, heh heh, all these women, heh heh" and "OMG why can't my son be normal? This polyamory stuff is bad!" At some point many years ago, I realized that I was unlikely to change his opinion, but I could demonstrate through example that I wasn't being damaged by it, and neither are my partners.
terriaminute
Sep. 30th, 2013 01:45 pm (UTC)
I have the very tough experience of not liking my husband's girlfriend. That is the hardest I have ever tried to like someone despite my instinctive aversion. I can honestly say I did my very best.

As it turned out, my dislike was grounded in reality, but that is not what I wished. I did not demand he break up with her. I did gently point out things she did that hurt him, and I did encourage him to protect himself. I don't know that any of that helped really. The chemistry of love makes hearing anything negative very difficult. Eventually she broke his heart in a derisive and dismissive way. It still took him two years and therapy to get past all the anger and most of the hurt. (Bonus, his therapist & her family are now friends.)

He told me I could veto anyone who triggered my *run!* radar like that. I told him no I could not. I will share what I see with him. But those choices are his, not mine. I have enough choices of my own to make!

What I have learned: love is not enough. Love alone cannot bridge gaps in compatibility, failures in communication, or flaws in ethics. Love is wonderful stuff, but there is a LOT more to relationship success than that rush of hearts & flowers. We all have flaws and we all make mistakes. Those are fine. SEEING the flaws for what they are, and understanding what to do when mistakes are made - and being able to tell the difference between a mistake and a pathology symptom - are key.
khall
Sep. 30th, 2013 08:00 pm (UTC)
I hate this. It's not a problem. Be an adult. If SO A and SO 1 don't get along? They can be adults. Just like in the real world, when you don't like someone at work, or school, or at the grocery store. Very, very rarely for really obvious reasons do we just randomly tell someone at work, "You're a bitch and I can't stand you." But? Somehow? It is okay in relationships. I disagree. There's no reason to fake liking someone you don't. But...if you can't be decent to someone else, who is obviously important to your partner? You're not really committed to the relationship. You're committed to your own personal needs. Poly doesn't work well under those conditions.

On the other hand...if your partner is involved with someone that you find so repugnant that it makes you physically ill...you have to ask yourself how much your partner is really...who you think they are.

K.
sweh
Oct. 2nd, 2013 12:46 am (UTC)
I've seen a poly family explode due to two people just not getting on. It turned into a "he said, she said" environment with people taking sides and escalating claims of wrong-doing. The family, and ultimately the central pair's marriage, went foom.
neuralchain
Oct. 13th, 2013 01:13 am (UTC)
The bit about triangular communication resonated with me, in particular. I too, have been on all sides of this issue. I find it particularly difficult it a partner sees value in a relationship with somebody who displays what I call "deal-breaking" traits. For example, I recently had just such a situation with a partner who is vetting a new potential relationship. When somebody is in NRE, they tend not to see the BIG DARN warning signals. I don't know how to break through that without tipping the barrel clean over in the process.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )