I embarrassed myself a bit last night with the vehemence of my position. Someone had asked me how I fulfilled my responsibility as the secondary partner to maintaining the primary couple’s boundaries.
I began by pointing out all the couple privilege and hierarchical assumptions that question contained, and how I disagreed with his premise.
First off, let’s toss out the hierarchy from this question, because I am not going to play second to anyone, particularly in my own love life. So then question becomes, “How much responsibility do I have to maintain my partner’s relationship contract with her co-habitating partner?”
Now let’s toss out the couple privilege from that sentence as well: “”How much responsibility do I have to maintain my partner’s external relationship contracts?”
At which point, the answer becomes pretty obvious to me: None at all.
She is responsible for maintaining all of the contracts she enters into. I am not responsible for maintaining any of her agreements. I didn’t make them. No one invited me to that negotiation.
Equally, I feel that she is responsible for presenting the sum of her boundaries as her choice, and not as restrictions that have been forced upon her by external parties. “Oh, I’d love to fuck you but my other partner would get jealous” is really close to telling me, “I regularly enter into relationship contracts that I don’t intend to keep.”
My responsibility, I informed him, rests solely inside the relationships I choose to enter into, with the people I enter into them with.
“Well, okay, I can see that being true for a casual, one-night sort of thing, but aren’t you going to be the guilty one if you violate the primary partnership’s agreements in a long term relationship? You presumably care about her feelings, about hurting her,” goes the argument.
Well, yes. If I were being victimized by couple privilege, and being held responsible for her failure to respect her relationship contract with other people, then I’d be held as the guilty party, just like when a husband cheats on his wife, society is quick to blame the adulteress, who didn’t even know the guy was married.
I can only be held responsible for doing the best that I can do, given the knowledge that I have.
As far as her violation of her relationship boundaries go, if I’m in a long term relationship with her, then sure, I will absolutely support her and nurture her while she resolves HER mistakes.
(This was, if you hadn’t guessed, the point where I got rather loud, and quite a few people stopped talking around me.)
In this scenario, I most likely have a relationship with my metamour, her other partner. And I recognize that their relationship has a certain value to them: they have agreed to co-habitate and co-mingle their finances, and that indicates that they perceive that relationship has legs, will be lasting for a while. But I am also in it for the long-haul, and to suggest that my relationship is less worthy of consideration or allowance just because they met each other first…it’s simply insulting to me.
Furthermore, until they, as a couple or as two individuals, sit down with me and negotiate all the terms of the dozens of relationships going on in that situation (her + me, her + him, (her+me) + him, etc)…until my voice was a part of that discussion, and I agreed to the situation, I feel no obligation at all to uphold those contracts.
It is not enough for them to have simply considered my feelings when renegotiating their positions. In fact, I’ve been in situations where they have given me more than I would have asked for, and I found that insulting. I have to be in the room. I have to be treated like an equal member of the negotiation, or I reject outright the suggestion that I am liable for those agreements.
You might well imagine how I react to the idea of End User Licensing Agreements.