Monday, February 18, 2008

I love your writing and I wanted to ask your opinion about a poly situation where my boyfriends know about each other but have never met. How okay is it to talk about the other guy? "The weirdest thing happened to my other boyfriend at his work..." "My other boyfriend cooks this awesome dish..." Is it like with regular friends, where it's no problem to share stories, or is it really gauche like talking too much about your ex?

I'm guessing that "my other boyfriend said this hilarious thing during sex" is right out. Sadly.

It’s a very good question. I’ve never had a situation where my lovers had not met. But there’s knowing something is happening, and then there’s the “no information is TMI” stance, and there’s a lot of range in between those two points.

Obviously the first thing to do is ask them. And don’t just ask, “What do you not want to hear about?” Frame the questions clearly. “Do you want to hear about what movie we saw? Do you want to hear about what’s happening at his work? Do you want to hear about where he think our relationship is going?” There’s apt to be a certain level there. “Yes, tell me about movies, restaurants and books he thinks are good, but I don’t want to hear what brand of underwear he thinks are best.”

But even once they’ve expressed an opinion, I think it’s always best to think about things before you say them. Context is important. You don’t want your lovers to feel compared, because there’s a possibility they’ll feel like they’re coming out on the short end. So if you’re eating a meal lover A has cooked and you’re going on and on about this great thing Lover B cooked…. That might not be the best thing.

Also consider frequency. A story about the other person sprinkled in with other conversation? Okay. Every single conversation comes back to this cute thing they did? Annoying.

Some of this is going to depend on how poly-sophisticated these guys are. A more experienced partner will probably be fine with it. Someone who’s newer to poly will have to grit their teeth a bit.

I think it’s important to not feel like you have to tiptoe around subjects, and pretend you’re not really having two partners, when in fact, you are! But some tact and some delicacy as you all three find your comfort zones is essential.

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