The core values of most nonmonogamous relationships are Honesty and Communication. Both are equally important in navigating your way through a nonmonogamous relationship. I won't bother singing the praise of these values today, because let's face it… You've heard it all before. You know what you haven't heard? You haven't heard about the pitfalls of honesty and communication.
Now, I don't know if this is just a Shira B. Katz specialty or not, but from my perspective it seems that there are just loads of polyamorous relationships that never make it past initial boundary negotiations. Here is the scene: You meet someone new, you flirt and fawn and have a few dates. When you decide that you'd like to make a regular thing out of your new found relationship, you start talking about what the rules are and how often you'd like to see each other and suddenly you spend 90% of your time negotiating the logistics of your relationships rather than just being in a relationship. Here is an example of an actual letter I received from a girl I was dating a few years ago:
“If you and I do indeed want to give this a shot, I'd be interested in hanging out 1-3 nights a month, having dinners or whatnot and maybe the occasional weekend day. I'd love to go to (local) events or whatnot when they have good queer things happening. I'd just like to be clear, basically, on whatever our agreement is–do we keep things open ended and super casual, and if we have free days that line up at the last minute we hang out? Would we want to make a more committed effort to ensure that we see each other about twice a month? I could go either way. It's basically that I'd like whatever we agree to be mutual and clear.”
Let me preface this by saying that I understand that this level of communication and negotiation is needed in polyamorous relationships. Let me also say, that this letter totally scared me off. I felt like I was signing a contract. Where is the romance or spontaneity in this sort of pre-arranging? Can we… I don’t know… be more present? Plan based on emotion and whim and want?
I've also seen negotiations turn sour. Over intellectualizing every single possibility and every single potential bump in the road leaves people exhausted and terrified to move forward. What if you get too busy and we can't spend enough time together? What if you find another partner that you want to fluid bond with? What if things don't work out the way we want them to? What if? What if? Ah, fuck it. This is too much work and drama. Maybe we should call it off… right?
Fuck that. Seize the day. Communication is a wonderful tool, but I think it can be abused. Sometimes you should navigate your way through a relationship on what your heart tells you, not your head. I am not endorsing being radical or irresponsible. I am endorsing taking risks and not being scared to try something. Anything. Everything. You will never experience anything good if you are intellectualizing your way out of new experiences or relationships. You will only leave a trail of regrets in your wake.