I had a former partner experience both of his relationships crashing and burning while he attempted desperately to maintain that all he wanted was for “everyone to be happy.”
The problem was that in that particular set of relationships, there was no way for his two partners to be “happy” the way he wanted. And there was no way for him to provide each of us with what we wanted without taking it from someone else.
Logistically, it was impossible. We couldn’t both spend every weekend with him. Not only that, but the weekends when he’d try to split the difference and spend them with both of us together, it was a constant parade of flying feces as the shit kept continuously hitting the fan.
We really didn’t like each other, and his constant wish for us all to “just get along so we can all be happy” was an exercise in futility.
Now, it’s my blog and I have the microphone here so I could go into all the reasons why she was a really awful person who purposely caused friction in the relationship so that she could “win,” and you’d have no reason to believe otherwise since she’s not gonna come up in my comments and defend herself.
But it really doesn’t matter for the sake of this point. Suffice it to say, she and I could not and would not get along – and whenever he said “I just want everybody to be happy,” what he meant was “I just want to be happy regardless of your individual needs and have you accept my happiness for your own.”
If he took steps to make me happy (like, for example taking me to a movie I wanted to see), she would cry that he was showing me preferential treatment. And, if he took steps to make her happy – well, again – she’s not here to defend herself, but usually what made her happy was having him “prove” to her that he loved her more than he loved me by breaking promises or plans or limiting the time he spent talking to me, which is not a healthy way to poly.
I never said this was a healthy attempt at poly. In fact, I’d say the exact opposite of that was true. That relationship is the reason why I spent a little over a year refusing to even entertain the thought of getting involved with someone who claimed to be poly.
But now I’ve discovered what it’s like to be in a relationship with an emotionally mature polyamorous man. It helps that his other partners are also emotionally mature. I wouldn’t say we’re all happy all the time; but the way he handles each of our moments of unhappiness is individual, without taking away or affecting the relationships he has with the other two.
So, when I read a post or hear someone lamenting on how all they want is for everyone to be happy, I have to wonder if what they’re really saying is “All I want is to get my way without your pouty faces.”
We’ve all heard that relationships are compromise. When you’re involved in multiple relationships, the number of compromises multiply. Sometimes, someone’s going to have to be unhappy. The true test of polyamory is how you handle it when it’s gotta be you.