Hello my beloved perverts!
I hope you had a great week, found something positive in your life, and managed to have a little fun to distract you from all the ugliness currently in the world at large, and the US in particular.
Last week I talked about signs that either healthy or unhealthy relationship displays as notable markers as to how it is doing. This week I want to give you some questions to consider mulling over at the appropriate stages within your relationship. Please remember that it does not matter what kind of structure or dynamic, mono or poly, or other lifestyle choices you are engaged in – you will have a relationship of some sort with your chosen partner. Not all questions will apply to all situations; however, most of them apply to any relationship you are looking at as a viable long-term possibility.
I wished I had my current knowledge and wisdom years ago, knew the right questions to ask, and the long-term view I have now in regards to relationships. For years my relationships lasted an average of 2-3 years, with only one notable exception. Now – fact is they were all Power Exchange Dynamics, each with their own flavor, needs and expectations.Somewhere never intended to be long term, others I had hope for. At one time I had four P/E relationships simultaneously, but one or two were the norm. The same principles applied to all of them, though – they were relationships, and such come with wants, needs, desires and expectations from all parties involved.
It is important to constantly evaluate your relationship(s) to make sure you are still where you want to be, that the direction it is going is still what you both desire, that it stays within the boundaries and expectations that were agreed upon. This applies specifically to P/E relationships, but also to a somewhat lesser extend to poly situations.
I know that if I had asked myself some questions and had been honest with myself, my notable 8-year relationship would never have lasted that long. However, we all have … at least I like to think so … the urge to see the best in people, to think that we can help them to overcome a hardship they are going through, to help them heal a heart ache they are carrying, to coax out the good we see in them.
It is an illusion – unless someone is willing to work on their baggage, or make some fundamental changes in their lives/thinking, they will not change. It does not matter that you are able to see under the tough exterior, sees the soft and loving person that hides under all the hard layers that were built to protect, that you believe with all your heart you can coax some of that to the outside – unless they want to do it, you will not change them. Let me repeat that out loud to the people in the back:
You cannot change anyone unless THEY choose to change.
However – you can make choices about whether or not you are going to stay in a relationship that is not healthy, or not going the way that you were initially thinking/planning it would go. Sometimes you have to let someone go no matter how much you love them, because to do otherwise would be causing harm to yourself, and no relationship should cause self-harm.
Neither should any relationship include such things as emotional blackmail, emotional manipulation, or coercion to agree to something despite your better judgement. When we start to accept behaviors that are not in line with our morals and ethics in order to ‘keep’ or ‘appease’ our partner, we need to take a hard look at what we are doing and whether or not it is truly worth it.
Evaluating your relationship
I think we can all agree that there are several stages to a relationship/dating. Each of these stages serve a different purpose, and require different questions to be asked. The following four are just the bigger ones, there are many smaller steps in between.
This is when you first meet – you find yourself attracted to the other person, be it based on physicality, intellect, power or presence, humor … whatever it may be. There is something about the other person that draws you, gets your interest going, raises your libido.If this is true for both parties, a future date is arranged to explore this interest.
New Relationship Energy – NRE – is what we call it in the poly world, although it applies to any and all lifestyles. This is when hormones are going wild, both partners put their best foot forward, differences are dismissed, and conflict just does not happen due to … well, hormones. We are having a great time!!! We are out there playing, sexing, doing the dating thing, getting to know each other (or so we think), spending as much time as possible with our newfound lust/love.
Generally, this phase takes 3-6 months, depending on the maturity and self-awareness of either partner. There is a good possibility that each of the partners are asking themselves what the future will look like, if this is the right person for them, and has some kind of dreams for a possible future.
Becoming a Couple
At this stage, your hormones are calming down, you have a fairly good idea of who your partner is, what they stand for, what their interests are. You let your guard down some, showing the everyday you rather than the putting your ‘best face’ out there. You share more intimacies, show some vulnerabilities, become more relaxed in general.
This is also when you might realize that the habit you thought of as ‘cute’ or inconsequential is neither, but seriously annoying to you. Perhaps this looks like them constantly asking you where you are going or what you are doing. Whereas that looked like interest in you and your life while in the NRE stage, you now feel though you do not have any privacy and have to constantly explain yourself. Just something to keep an eye on while you decide if the annoying behavior is worth a compromise.
Generally, both parties still have their own domicile at this point, sleeping over at each other’s place when time/energy/reality allow. This is the stage when the question “where are we headed?” is most likely to come up.
The big one – deciding whether to move forward and commit, attempt to build a future together, and looking at long-term goals. At this point each of the partners should have a fairly good idea who they are with, what their ideals, goals, interests, ethics and morals are. You should have met each others important people – other partners, family members, close friends, social circles.
If you are in a P/E of any kind, you should have discussed what that looks like, what you are willing to take on/give up, what your long-term vision for a power dynamic relationship looks like.
Open and honest conversations about the future should take place as you plan for it together, around such topics as (possibly) children, finances, career goals, lifestyle preferences, etc. The serious stuff. The kind of stuff that will determine if you are compatible enough to build a future together. A LOT of conversation should be taking place (oh look – an opportunity to practice your communication skills!).
Throughout this process, you should continually ask yourself some important questions if you are aiming for a relationship – be it monogamous, polyamorous, or any kind of Power Exchange. Remember that beneath any structure/dynamic you may choose to live by, you are primarily in a relationship with another human being with wants, needs, and desires. If they do not get met to the recipient’s satisfaction, the relationship will not work out the way you may imagine it will. So what are some of those check-in questions?
- What do we have in common?
- Do we have a strong physical connection?
- How are we treating ourselves and each other?
- Do we contribute equally to the relationship?
- Am I becoming a better person next to my partner?
- If I were to choose a partner today, would I pick the same person?
- Do you talk about the future?
- Are you on the same page about vision and goals?
- Are you compatible as a couple vs. individual time?
- Are you compatible about needs for affection and sex?
- Are you compatible about work?
- Are you in agreements about the role of extended family?
- Is your partner your best friend?
- Do you feel emotionally safe with them?
- Do you feels as though they always have your back?
- Do you completely trust your partner?
- Do you feel your partner completely trusts you?
- Are you satisfied with your sex life?
- Does your partner make you laugh?
- Do you feel you have made personal sacrifices for your relationship?
- When you think of your partner, what feelings come forward?
- Do you feel threatened when your partner is found attractive by others?
- Do you believe your partner is your biggest advocate?
- What did you do today to express your love?
- Do you know your partner’s views on finances?
- How do you feel about your partner’s views on finances?
- Do you enjoy spending time with your partner’s relatives and friends?
- How do your closest friends and family feel about your partner?
- Are past resentments dredged up during arguments?
- How do you feel when your partner returns home after being away for an extended period?
- Do you consider your partner your best friend?
- Is there a secret you are keeping you feel that if your partner knew, you would lose them?
- Do you feel accepted by your partner?
- Do you think you have seen each other at your best and worst?
- Would you ever consider having an affair?
- When was the last time you discussed your future together?
- Are you excited about your future together?
- Do you feel your relationship is a true partnership?
- If different, do you both respect each other’s spiritual beliefs?
- Do you feel you both are supportive of each other’s personal and professional goals?
- What is a relationship deal breaker for you?
- How do you envision your relationship five years from now?
- How do you feel about the last, heart-to-heart conversation you and your partner had?
- When you think of life without your partner, how does it make you feel?
- Do you feel seen and heard in your relationship?
- When you think of your partner, what descriptors immediately come to mind?
- Are you kind to each other?
These questions are neither in any particular order, nor exhaustive. They are simply an accumulation of thoughts that should go into a relationship. There are no ‘right’ answers, nor are there outright ‘wrong’ ones. Everyone must decide for themselves what they are considering to be the right answers within their relationship, dynamic and life. But I would encourage you to occasionally sit down and ask yourself – and your partner – some of these questions that are important to you and your vision of the relationship you are in, or are hoping to build.
I made many mistakes along my journey and within my relationships – P/E as well as poly. I wish I could redo some of them, but that is not in the cards. All I can do is move forward with the knowledge I gained, and try to do better in the future.
Next week I will talk about figuring what you actually want and need for yourself from a relationship. Knowing these things will make a big difference in your relationships, and I believe that unless you can articulate what you are looking for, it will be hard to find it. So – we shall do some introspection and see what we can find. 🙂
Until then ….