Black & Poly Feature: “Ask Orpheus”

Ask Orpheuscrpdby Orpheus Black

Sandra B Asks Orpheus:

Orpheus, are there hard and fast rules to being polyamorous?

As the ‘third’ in our triad, my boyfriend and his wife have ‘rules’; however, I came in with no expectations. Should I make rules, follow rules, or let the triad develop on its on? (BDSM is not a part of our lives)


There are no hard and fast rules that govern any relationship alternatives, BDSM, poly, or otherwise.

Each relationship is like a snowflake. No matter how similar one is to another, each is unique, requiring its own rules, methodologies, and environment, specific to that relationship.

A general rule of thumb is, don’t bring in rules, guidelines or expectations, to an already established relationship. When a third enters a new relationship with a preexisting couple it is important to acknowledge the established rules, structures, and hierarchies, in place. Not because it is the polite thing to do, but because these rules have worked for the preexisting relationship thus far and altering it may do more damage than good.

In my opinion, the job of the third is to become so comfortable and familiar with the workings of the relationship dynamic that initiating slight changes, accommodations, or alterations, to the relationship should be no problem. When something is not working out for you, or others, you will understand the best way to get things resolved.

It is important that every third realize that if what they want, or need, is not in line with the goals of the previously established relationship they can tear it apart.

In my opinion, the best ways to initiate change are organic. Each person should write a “Best Case Scenario” list that outlines where they want the relationship to go. The overlaps in each list could become common goals for everyone. Everything that can be agreed upon should be acknowledged. Everything else should be thoroughly discussed. In this way, you not only set goals for the group, but, establish a rudimentary process for communication between everyone. While this is a good beginning approach, it may not work if you are already in a dynamic that works for you.

What I would recommend, if you are already in a dynamic, is to look at every issue you, or your partners, may have from a bipartisan stand point. A few of my rules of thumb are;

“No rules, or changes, can be made to the relationship if it negatively affects or harms anyone in the poly dynamic.”

“No rules, or changes, can be made if they don’t reflect the overall feelings or goals of the group.”

“No rules, or changes, can be made if they are in the best interest of a lone individual and not the collective”

So how do you work within a polygynous or Polyamorous structure to bring about the changes you want that may be most beneficial? Robert Heinlein once said, “You have to fully Grok the situation.” Grok means to understand, so thoroughly that the observer becomes a part of the observed—to merge, blend, intermarry, lose identity in the group experience.”

When you have an issue, or want to make a change, make sure you fully understand the issue before you attempt to address it. Then go to your partners, not only with the issue, but, with a mutually beneficial way to resolve it. That’s really important. What’s also important is that you do it respectfully; and that you are not so attached to your solution that it can’t be taken and altered in a way that you may not have foreseen.

In closing, polyamorous relationships are like bonsai trees, they will grow on their own but it is up to us to guide and shape it in a way that is healthy, beautiful, and sustainable.

by Orpheus Black

Orpheus Black

edited by WritetoMind

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