Repost: Rules & Expectations

I saw this post recently published on Journals of a Polyamorous Triad: “Poly 101: Rules and Expectations.” I found his exercise and discussion pretty interesting and useful, so I wanted to re-post his questionnaire here:

    “10 or 9 Absolutely Agree
    8 or 7 Strongly Agree
    6 or 5 Agree
    4 or 3 Strongly Disagree
    2 or 1 Absolutely Disagree 

    Ready? Okay, answer honestly:

    1. My partners should know where I am at all times, and, when to expect me home.


    2. I am accountable to all of my partners for all of my sexual and romantic activities. They have a right and vested interest to know who, what, where, when, and why.


    3. It is reasonable that all of my partners know my sexual risk factors. I encourage them to inquire about and suggest limits on my sexual activities.


    4. Should I ask, it is unacceptable any of my partners to lie – or otherwise conceal any facts or details – about a date or romantic encounter. The same goes for me.


    5. My partners can – at any time – request that I do not engage in specific sexual activities, and I will do my best to honor it.


    6. My partners can – at any time – request that I do not date specific people or others, and I will do my best to honor it.


    7. My partners can – at any time – request that more energy be paid to their dynamic with me, and I will do my best to honor it.


    8. I am an adult. I am accountable for every decision I make. I will not allow any excuse (example: being drunk, horny, in a scene, got carried away, in NRE, in romantic love, etc.) to detract from taking responsibility for my actions at all times.


    9. To the greatest extent possible, all of my partners deserve a say in my calendaring and scheduling.


    10. I have obligations (family, financial, parental, spousal) that may at times take precedence over my romantic entanglements, and I will act upon them accordingly.”


    I really liked what he had to say later on about your score:

    The lower the score the more you likely value autonomy and freedom; the more likely you view rules as instruments of control and not as reasonable mutual expectation; the more likely you’ll refuse outside accountability for your actions (expecting your partners to deal with their own emotional responses rather than considering how you contribute to those responses); the more likely you’re to view broad descriptions “Ethical” in the same context as “Acceptable” or “Right”, which isn’t accurate but helps to justify your actions; the more likely you’re to shift blame for relationship problems away from you and onto the back of somebody else; the more likely you’re to make unilateral decisions as not to be confronted or told no.
    The higher the score the more you likely value setting reasonable expectations; the more likely you view rules as tools for negotiating what you want; the more likely you accept outside accountability for your actions and promises; the more likely you’re to consider the feelings of your partners when making independent decisions; the more likely you’re to view contextual nuances of broad descriptions like “Ethical” (ie: it may have been ethical to provide advance notice on your intention to engage in a threesome, but, advance notice alone doesn’t make it “right” if a partner asked you politely not to participate and you refused citing your “ethical and transparent” conduct as a license to do whatever you please); the more likely you’re to make more consensusbased decisions with your partners, understanding and accepting that you may be confronted or told no.

    J and I discussed the questionnaire, and J pointed out that the concept is very similar to Kathy Labriola’s intimacy-autonomy scale that she discusses in her book Love in Abundance. I think he is right; I doubt someone would score high on one scale and low on another. I do think they are distinct, though, in that Kathy’s scale is about intimacy within a relationship, whereas this questionnaire is getting at your willingness to accept external control on your behavior. Both definitely get touch on aspects of intimacy, disclosure, communication, autonomy, freedom, and control, but I think they do so in subtly different ways.

    Unsurprisingly, my score on this questionnaire is between 70 and 80, and I put myself between a 7 and a 8 on Kathy’s scale. J thinks he is similar, scoring somewhere between a 60 and 70 on this questionnaire and puts himself between a 6 and a 7 on Kathy’s scale. Yet another helpful tool for talking about your relationship and figuring out how to negotiate boundaries that feel satisfying and good for you 🙂

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