Sunday, 19 September 2010

Twice the Fun and Half the Trouble! (The Trouble with Triads 3)

You’d think so, anyway. It seems as though it should work that way. The joys of two relationships, but less trouble, because, after all, your partners can always entertain / comfort / be company for each other while you slope off to do your own thing. You could maybe even avoid the fallout of your own miscalculated comments or actions since the injured party has someone else to console and commiserate with them. After all, they’re mad with you, right, so why would they want to talk to you? You might as well go and sulk / watch TV / read by yourself till the injured party Gets Over It.


Well, half-wrong, anyway. Having two primary live-in partners does mean that there is usually company when you want it, that you are usually not left home alone with the kids while a partner has classes or club events. It is twice as much love and affection, definitely (often more than you have time to fit in). Twice as many people to coddle you when you are unhappy or ill. Twice as much companionship.

But. It does not absolve you of relationship responsibilities to either partner. Each of your partners need to know that you care for him/her as an individual. Yes, it’s great to know that another partner loves him/her, but s/he needs to hear it from you too. S/he needs to see that you care. That you are prepared to put in the time to listen to her/him, empathise with her/him and care for her/his needs. S/he definitely needs to have it out with you if s/he is unhappy with something you have done. This cannot be resolved by weeping on the shoulder of another person, no matter how loved and trusted. S/he may become less emotional about it, but the issue will be there, lurking beneath the surface of your every interaction, just waiting to explode again.

In a triad, just as in any other relationship, you can’t afford to focus only on the benefits to yourself. You have to focus on your responsibilities as well. You have to accept that relationship responsibilities have to be prioritised in your life, and that you will probably be spending more time dealing with relationship issues than you ever have before.

A little forethought will go a long way to making your life easier:
Think things through in advance, considering how your actions and words will impact each person in your relationship before you speak or act.
Empathise: Learn to put yourself in your partners’ shoes.
Work on developing a non-judgemental, non-confrontational, non-melodramatic communication style, and ask your partners to do the same. But then remember to take their words just as seriously as before: just because s/he is speaking calmly rather than screaming the roof down does not mean s/he feels it any less intensely than before.

Each romantic relationship in a triad has to be a full relationship, not a superficial one. It’s no good hoping that your partners will fill each other’s needs and that therefore they don’t need you so much: now you are needed by two people instead of one. To ignore this is to exclude yourself from the functional heart of your relationship; to risk your relationship becoming, emotionally at least, a simple dyad. Without you.