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It is an absolute truism in polyamory that communication is everything - and for good reason, none of us are mind readers and only by being open with one another can we reveal and then resolve issues within our relationships - but sometimes, in order to communicate effectively, we need to decide when and whether to communicate specific problems, issues, and moments with our partners. The skill of forbearance - of deciding that right now isn't the time and place to have this conversation, that this bit of "well, their action or take is kind of bullshit, but I accept this particular bullshit" is a price of entry we can pay with this partner without resentment - is a real part of interpersonal communication that sometimes gets overwhelmed in the polyamorous drive to communicate.

Forbearance is the moment when you know it won't change anything today to talk about how you had a wibbly feeling when your partner made a big social media post about their other relationship's milestone, so you wait until you're back at emotional baseline and then ask for reassurance about your relationship, and let them know that in general, you'd like it if there were posts about you on your occasions too. Getting emotional during the discussion isn't a problem, but waiting until you've processed a little and can express it as what you'd want in your relationship rather than what they gave someone else that you're envious of, is a moment of forbearance and pause that makes the conversation smoother and less accusatory. (If you can use principles of non-violent communication like I statements, as well, all the better.)

Forbearance is also not fighting about the thing you've known is true since you met your partner and demanding change they never indicated they could make. While growth and change are inevitable in relationships (and in people!) expecting people to make changes on demand is not realistic. If your partner has always been messy, fighting them about it because you're now more aware as they come and go in the house more with their other partners or because you're bringing people over more often is not a reasonable course of action. Sometimes these demands for change are not about 'the mess;' your partner was messy long before - they're about making you feel valued in shared space now that your partner is putting in effort you feel is visible elsewhere for other people. Communicating about specific things you can do as a team to change how mess gets tackled, or forbearing to discuss it and picking other topics to focus on as a way of being valued or prioritized, make more sense.

Communication is essential to get to the root of issues, to make sure folks are on the same page, and to move forward and repair problems - but sometimes to avoid finding yourself on a hill you don't mean to die on, forbearance is the best policy.


Check out the book here, follow me on tiktok and instagram @readyforpolyamory, sign up for Polyamory and Parenting class at the end of April, and catch up on the podcast.

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