Love is not a pie but the clock is.S. Bear Bergman
My friend Cole said this quote recently when we got together for coffee and I immediately grabbed my phone and made a note of it. It is a perfect visual example.
I have always found strange the human need to put everything into predefined categories. One example that applies for the polyamory-minded is the need for people to think of love as something that we have a specific (limited) amount of. In reality, as I’ve said elsewhere on this site, love is not a finite resource. It grows the more we give it away.
We can have more love, but we cannot have more time. Today’s 24 hours is specific and limited. It’s a pie that will be gone at 11:59pm. But the love we give and receive today is not so limited. It crosses time and does not have a predetermined expiration date. In this installment of my series On Polyamory, I’m going to talk about time – specifically how to deal with managing and coordinating multiple schedules in multiple partner relationships.
In order to establish healthy routines that are mindful of everyone who might be affected, it all comes down to communication. But then again, the foundation of every healthy relationship – regardless of the number of people involved – is communication. If you do nothing else, build healthy communication skills and practice them liberally.
It’s easy to think something and not say it, especially if you’re not accustomed to being forthcoming with your thoughts. I think it would be great if Partner 3 joined me at a planned meal with Partners 1 & 2. I made a commitment to 3 but neglected to talk about this with 1 & 2 beforehand. A scenario like this opens up the possibility for misunderstandings and hurt feelings, all because I didn’t communicate. Worse, I might get caught in my own head, increasing my anxiety and feeling negatively about something I have not even communicated.
So communicate. If your existing relationships are not conducive to communication on this level, you’re not ready for polyamory.
Coordinating and planning are absolute necessities when it comes to maneuvering multi-partner situations. While major plans might require a “family meeting”, day-to-day plans might be a simple matter of saying “Hey Partner 1 & Partner 2, I’d like Partner 3 to join us for dinner on Friday. Would that be ok?”
Be mindful as well of the order in which planning conversations take place, and how things are worded when discussed. If you promise Partner 3 that they will join you for dinner before you ask Partners 1 & 2 for their consent, you’ve sidestepped your responsibility to everyone involved. Instead, you might ask Partners 1 & 2 if they mind and then ask Partner 3. Alternatively, you might discuss with #3 the possibility of dinner, and then talk to #1 & 2 to ask.
Remember, you’re navigating the lives and feelings of more than one person, so including them in the conversation and seeking their consent when it involves them is the right thing to do.
I live by my calendars. Seriously. I have six active Google calendars at present, along with several others that I use to plan things like Editorial Content (stuff for this website), Meals, and Personal Growth. After you have communicated and planned, you need a reliable way to organize and maintain the ongoing record.
A cloud-based calendar has been the best way I have found to keep plans organized and inclusive. My House Calendar is in the cloud, and both my husband and my boy have access to it. This calendar includes anything that affects our schedules outside of normal work schedules. We record days off, appointments, date nights, etc. to give us one place to look for existing commitments and to record new ones. In the interest of transparency, this is an area of my relationships that needs work, because while it is common to plan for these things in work environments, it is still new and unfamiliar territory to coordinate multiple schedules for personal time.
As I say with everything on this site, take what works for you. If you don’t want to use something I suggest, don’t. Maybe your situation can be managed with a dry erase board or a group text. Or maybe you need a more extensive solution. I write here to give you food for thought; what you do with that meal is up to you.