Hello and Happy Holiday season to you and yours in what traditions you may celebrate. I have been away for a while. Lots of life things have happened. Hopefully I can get back into the swing of things and be more active.
I was listening to a podcast recently, Multiamory Ep 146 #FOMO Fear of Missing Out. In this there are a lot of good points, but one that stood out to me was one made about personal choice in our actions.
This particular point was talking about how we control our own choices. Not the outcome of those choices, or the external forces that may influence those or direct those choices… But that we have the choice in many things in our lives to do certain things or not do them. They were talking about the feeling of being left out and how we as individuals, often times, have a choice as to what we can do about it.
I would like to take this concept a step further or 3 into conscious choice in relationships. What do I mean ” conscious choice” aren’t all choices conscious decisions? To answer that question I say no. Not all are. Many choices we make on a day to day basis are passive and routine. And there isn’t anything wrong with that, necessarily. However I have found that by employing conscious thought and active decisions into my relationships they have become much more fulfilling.
What I mean by conscious choice is this:
A conscious choice is one made intentionally, freely, and fully informed, with an active process, and one that includes acceptance of all consequences, outcomes and/or impacts. That’s some heavy stuff. It can take a lot of work if you aren’t used to it. But you can do it.
So let us break this down into its main parts. (in no particular order.)
Intentionally, Freely, and Fully informed. Pretty straight forward concept. In any relationship (mono/RA/Polyam/Solo) you are your primary asset. So, it makes sense to choose things that are beneficial, non-harming, and enjoyable.
In this process, we need to dig in and evaluate our intentions for making this choice. What is our reason. What are the influences? What are our feelings about this? Is this a want, need, or response to #FOMO, jealousy or envy? Or am I choosing to do this because it is really somethign I want to do and will get joy out of. When it comes to being intentional, I try to give these choices the same thought consideration as a major financial purchase. Like a new flat screen, or a new kayak .
To make these choices, we have to be free of internal and external pressures to conform. This can sometimes mean we need to step back and look at a bigger picture view. Are we doing this from peer pressure, not wanting to let our partner / friend down, maybe it is for personal attention and or satisfaction. Maybe it is the thrill of the adventure. Perhaps we are in NRE and want to do everything with our new partner. Whatever the pressures, we need to take them into account and include them in this process.
We also need to have all the information about the choice. Being fully informed isn’t always as easy as one thinks. Sometimes our partners want to surprise us with an outing or experience. As such, we have to trust them that they have our best interest in mind and won’t put us into a situation we don’t want to be in. And also we can assert our right to say no once we see what it is. Other times we can be fully informed about what is going to happen. This includes asking our questions. Who? What? When? Where? Why ? How? etc. Maybe it means doing a little research about the things or people. Ask clarifying questions. LIKE, “What does the word ‘LOVE’ mean to you?” and have a conversation about it. Remember to use this for more than just events and experiences. You can use this in everyday conversations.
This gets us to the Active Process. The active process is the point where you take all the factors and information and you process them out. in a logical and constructive manner. Maybe that is the conversation about what love means. Perhaps it is just what restaurant you are going to. This process will look different to each individual. it can be done with your partner also for joint decisions, conflict resolution, or just information sharing of thoughts and ideas on a date night. But still it is a process. Sometimes long other times it can be very quick.
My active process is often the discussion of the topic, my thoughts on it, and my concerns, where in I will learn new information and have to process that in and reevaluate my position, then discuss more. In this process is where we will learn about or uncover the consequences, outcomes and impacts of the descision.
These will vary wildly from event to event can can range from nothing serious to deal breaker relationship ending impacts. and even more so into causing trauma, and pain for others. We need to think about how our choices affect those we care about. Not always to the point where we don’t do the things we want to.. But to the point that we do the things we want while causing as little harm as possible and maintaining our relationship morals and ethics. ( If you don’t know them for yourself, I recommend using this process to think about how you relate to others in the world around you and if that is the person you want to be. )
Next we have to accept that if we do this thing. “say I love you ” for instance. That we fully understand the impact that statement as to the one (s) it is said to , and how we plan to show it. How they will hear it and what their expectations of it are. Each of these acceptance criteria may have its own process to go through and usually that happens in the more major situations. But it can happen in more simple contexts especially early on in non-mono relationships and when people aren’t used to do ing this kind of processing and conscious experiences.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with want to do something that goes against what your partner wants to do so long as you can accept the consequences and the descision is in line with your morals and ethics.
For instance. I am a RA person. I practice a style of relationship connection that gives me complete and personal autonomy over my body. If I choose to have unprotected sex with a new person or a partner, I am aware that this means I will need to use protection with my other partners until my next STI screening or 2. This is for their safety. This isn’t something they have dictated to me. This is a conscious choice I am making for myself based on my personal ethics, conversations with my partners, and experiences I have had with my partners. If I were to get a new partner that didn’t care about that … My choice, due to my ethics, would be the same. This can be translated into a myriad of topics. Vacations, job hunting, car buying, love, sex, religion changes, politics, ice cream, dinners, grocery shopping, adventures, dates, ect.
What does this do? How does this make my relationships better? Well.. It restores free will and free choice to my life . From a society that is based on following the status quo, and relationships built on assuming that we both want the same things. It stops me from getting into the Relationship Rut and being bored with my connections. It gives me a way to discuss difficult things or changes in myself with my partners.
Keep in mind that your partner’s views may be different and not align with yours on certain things. That is totally ok. And when that happens you can discuss how you want about compromises and what is acceptable to each of you. Just keep in mind that their reasons for doing things differently are just as valid to them as yours are to you. No one has to be right or wrong…. you can all be both or either…. and it is not a reflection of character on any one party in the discussion.
In this post, I want to be clear: You can only use this process to make choices for yourself. I do not advocate using this process, or practicing a relationship style that gives control of the decisions to one partner and removes the agency of any others without explicit and revocable consent as well as active participation. This not to be used to control, manipulate, or otherwise disempower anyone in your life. This process can actually do the opposite. It can give you more agency, more freedom, more joy in your relationships.
I hope you find value in this and that it becomes a useful communication tool for you along your journey; if not that is ok too… You will find what works best for you . Good luck out there fellow human. May your journey be as educational as it is fulfilling!