I have a predicament. My wife just told me the date of her graduation from law school but I already have plans with my girlfriend to go out of town camping that weekend. We made the plans weeks ago before I knew when the graduation ceremony would be. What should I do?
Man in the Middle
Dear Man in the Middle:
What do you want to do? That is a starting point because polyamory is not about imposing obligation over pleasure. But what you choose to do may have consequences in your relations with your partners. Your wife has been working hard for years now and graduation is a celebration of her effort and accomplishment. Your girlfriend, however, is entitled to predictability and dependability in the plans that she makes with you. The key principles to remember here are to be honest about what you want, respectful of your girlfriend’s autonomy, and supportive of your wife’s success.
Sit down with your partners. I would prefer to get the three together at the same time, if possible. Be honest about your predicament and the pull you feel to both of your partners. Brainstorm: is there a way that everyone can be made happy? Can you attend the graduation and move the camping trip? Can you skip the graduation ceremony but instead throw a graduation party?
If these options are not feasible, then this is where prior agreements would be helpful. Some couples prioritize the commitments between the married couple. But “couples privilege” can quickly alienate those outside the pair who are, thus, unprivileged. From my perspective as a solo poly female, I am sympathetic to your girlfriend’s predicament, as constantly having plans reshuffled to accommodate another can feel disrespectful.
For this reason, my partners and I generally practice the “first in time” rule where the plans that were scheduled first (and that make it on the Google calendar) would trump any later plans. But, there are always exceptions. No one rule can anticipate all of the varied circumstances that will present themselves. It would help if you had a pattern of honoring your commitments and this conflict was viewed as an aberration.
Remember to thank your partners for their accommodation in the love language of their preference. For example, if your girlfriend likes touch the most, you could offer to give her a massage and if your wife most likes acts of service, you could offer to cook dinner. In this way, you remind each how important they are in your life.
I hope, with honest self-reflection and open communication with your partners you are able to arrive at an accommodation that will leave all feeling respected and valued in the relationship.
Thanks for writing!
Archie Comic Publications, Inc. (2014). Image of Veronica Lodge.
To find out how it came to be that Veronica, Betty, Archie, Jughead, Moose and Reggie all transitioned from monogamy to polyamory, or to ASK VERONICA and the other members of ARCHIE’S GANG questions about polyamory or open relating, go to the Poly Advice page.