One of the premises underlying my polyamory is the idea of free will. It can be hard–really hard–to give the people we love the freedom to live their own truths. But when the alternative–that I might use my love for someone an instrument to restrict them to being something other than their authentic selves–seems intolerable. A betrayal of that same love, in fact.
So I work to follow a few principles in all my relationships. These are so key for me that I feel like I ought to have them laminated on a card to hand out. They are:
- I don’t want anything from you for which the giving doesn’t make you happy.
- I don’t want you to try to be anyone but yourself for me.
- I want you in my life, but only if my presence in your life enriches it in some way.
- When you are with me, I assume you are there because you want to be, and because there is something you get out of being with me.
- I assume that what I offer you is unique, and cannot be replaced by something offered by someone else. I will not try to bind you to me by preventing you from having experiences I can’t personally offer.
- Your gifts of any part of yourself are just that: gifts. They’re not promises–and not currency. Giving me something will not make me expect further gifts, nor does it entitle you to anything from me, unless we have a prior agreement for reciprocity in a specific case.
- Likewise, anything I give you is given freely, without expectation of anything in return, unless we have agreed otherwise.
This is all, of course, easier said than done. Which is why I want you to challenge me if I ever behave in a way that is not in accordance with these principles.
Like I said, this is hard. People who know me well will know just how often I stumble in trying to follow these. Still, they’re a kind of mission statement–something I strive for, even when I fail.