If you've been here a while, you know I don't believe in relationships that are just struggle. It's not worth it to stay in something that has become toxic, or that is entirely one sided. But recently, I have seen a fair amount of opting out of both relationships, and community, by folks as soon as they have a day or an interaction where they are asked to pick up more than 50% within that back-and-forth.
There is not a human alive who is at 100% every day; so there is not a person who can meet us exactly with no need to occasionally be carried at 60-40 or 70-30 in a relationship. Any interpersonal relationship, not just our romances.
Our friends who have just had kids are pouring their energy into babies and lack of sleep and may not have energy to reach out, or to cook when we come over. They haven't stopped loving us. They are still members of our community. They need a lift and for us to do 70% of that interaction and offer to bring a tray of food or pick up takeout on our way and hold the baby while they grab a shower after we eat together. (I promise, as a mom of two kids who are no longer that young, that the people who did those kinds of visits were the most beloved in that first year of no sleep.) They'll return those favors in soup drop offs when we have the flu, trading sitters if we're also parents, or walking our dogs while we're on vacation if we're neighbors. Memories are long.
But increasingly, I see that people's sense of community is "who can I hang out with for a good time" and ignoring "who can I call if something goes wrong." It's fine if these are two different lists, and the latter is shorter than the former, but if you only build good-time connections, you will feel very isolated in a box of "why am I not self-sufficient enough to bootstrap myself out of this problem?" Humans are social beings. We want to solve our issues socially. We thrive socially. Our relationships are stronger when we are vulnerable and share that we need the lift - when we don't only have the 50-50 "I'll get this one, the next round is yours" interactions, but also the 70-30 "I know things are rough right now, I've got it" ones.
In our relationships, this looks like being willing to stick together through a rough patch so long as you're acknowledging the circumstances together and know they're changeable. Incremental progress back toward 50-50; or some areas where things are 50-50 and others where they aren't or where each partner is giving more - are all ok so long as you know they're there. This all connects to the way my overriding trend of polyam cohabitation advice is just the same as good roommate advice - be kind, be considerate, be ready to compromise, and be aware that as humans we're going to have days where we don't behave perfectly, where we need to forgive, where we have emotional meltdowns - and if that's truly unpalatable, live alone and be prepared for the inconvenience of doing everything for yourself. Our relationships and polycules are little communities we build and need to nurture.
Upcoming events include a polyamory and power exchange class next week on 7/12 at 6pm Pacific (9 Eastern) digitally for Wicked Grounds, and an in-person meetup for the Day of Visibility for Non-Monogamy that I'm hosting in New Haven, CT on 7/15 at 7pm. More info here.