How often do you think that something is obvious and your partner is insufferable for not understanding it without words? And how many different messages do you try to convey by the same “manly” silence? Has it ever worked?
Think about how many words you use when you talk about your relationship problem to a friend – versus your actual partner. You clearly articulate what you find wrong – but to a third party. Now think about the voice you use. You sulk and blame your partner, but respect that friend – even though your friend is not personally affected by the issue. Your partner is.
- You think it’s a personal space issue, he thinks you’re just playing hard to get.
- You think she’s ‘needy’, she thinks she just told you what she wants in bed. That’s what you asked, after all.
Whom do you discuss it with? Of course, anyone but your partner.
Monogamous relationships try to circumvent the mind-reading problem (without resorting to actual talking), by trying to think and want what they are supposed to think and want – to make it easier for the partner to guess. While it is indeed a difficult task, and it comes with a lot of admirable self-suppression – one must wonder whether actual communication would be easier. If easy is what you want.
Relying on nasty, old gender-stereotypes instead of actual talking to your partner is regarded ‘mature’ and normal. To pile insult upon injury, these stereotypes tend to be based on nasty biological and evolutionary determinism (because these are the only arguments scientists ever look for and accept as an explanation). And when you look for a symptom of a stereotype, you will find it. And enforce it.
What can be more uplifting than being reduced to a patronising gender-stereotype by your own partner – and by yourself?
Poly relationships cannot resort to neither mind-reading nor presumptions about people’s opinions, thoughts and desires, based on their usual relationship roles. Because there are no such roles. The only way forward is actual words. Talking, discussions. Changing minds. Not pointing fingers for someone changing their mind. Being honest with self and communicating the results with as much authenticity as our unpracticed communication skills allow us to convey.
I know, it’s hard work. And if you manage to do it all at once, you have nothing to struggle with for the rest of your life. Maybe that’s what old-fashioned people try to avoid.