Honesty and Transparency

C and I had a lot of conversations about relationships, largely abstract, including the previous post on saying “I love you” and expressing love. One of the things we discussed was honesty and transparency in relationships.  I’m a very open person.  I pretty much put myself out there as I am to people.  I don’t really have many secrets and I’m a terrible liar.  So, honesty has always been my go-to.  When hubby and I embarked on our adventure with polyamory, we agreed on two rules:

  1. Safer sex: barriers for penetration
  2. Honesty and Transparency

Turns out that honesty and transparency mean different things to different people.  For C, his style is more “don’t ask, don’t tell”.  His girlfriends know about each other, he knows about hubby and his girlfriend, but they don’t give details.  I was the one who let out important developments in their relationship to C and this is part of the reason he broke up with me (it was the joke I made when he told me that he and I had to stop talking so much because he was concerned about how our friendship effected hubby and his girlfriend).  In the process of our discussions he suggested I should write a blog post about what my views on honesty and transparency are.

For me, what is important is not the details, but intention behind the honesty.  I want to know about hubby’s dates, that he talking to new women, and how it’s going.  I want to hear about things so that I can support him and enjoy the whole process with him.  I get excited about his progress and the new developments in his love life.  I tell him about the details of my dates before I go.  It’s more of a safety thing, as anyone can say anything and pretend to be anyone in online dating.  He gets the name and number of my date, as well as the details of where we are going.  I check in with him every hour to two hours during the evening as well.  I tell him the details of how the date went when I get home.  I tell him my feelings about the guys I’m with.  He knew I was going to be intimate with D before it happened.  I tell him immediately after I’ve been intimate with someone for the first time.  I tell him when I’m talking to new men and when they’ve asked me out on a date.  We ask each other how things are going and I volunteer information, but ask him if he’s OK with hearing it.  I’d love to hear more details about his relationship, but his girlfriend is very private and doesn’t want any information transfer, so I just hear the things I need to keep the transparency I need.

I don’t think that leaving important information out is acceptable.  For example, if my partner had an exclusively online relationship with people, I would expect to hear about it.  To know what was happening.  If it’s an online sexual relationship, that’s even more important.  I told hubby when my relationship with X had reached a sexual level, even though it was long distance and over Skype.  I think any omission of information borders on cheating.  I also think that X lied by omission about the development of our sexual relationship and that was the catalyst that destroyed our relationship

I like to know what hubby is doing with his girlfriend. If they go out on a date and stay in a hotel overnight, I like to know where and how long they’ll be gone. I tell him when I’m going out on a date.  I tell him when I’m spending the night or if D is coming over while he’s at work.  I tell him when I meet D for lunch or go and see him just to give him a kiss at work.

What’s important to me is that I know before things happen.  I don’t like the idea that he could go out for a date and I not know about it until afterwards.  It’s about volunteering information, not waiting until someone asks for it.  It’s about respecting and honouring the relationship we have.

With D, I tell him when I have a date.  He knows I talk to other men and it doesn’t bother him. I  tell him some of the details of my dates, but he doesn’t seem to be bothered by any of it.  He knows I love him. He knows that if I develop a relationship with someone new, that it is because it’s an exceptional relationship, because I don’t want to sacrifice my time with him or hubby for someone who isn’t worth it.  Recently, I slept with someone new for the first time.  I told D and he said “sounds like you had fun”.  Hubby was a little more reactive to the news, but I think he dealt with it well.

So, I wrote the first draft of this post last week.  In the meantime, a horrible, horrible, horrible game of telephone led to some pretty awful things being said about me.  It highlighted that there is a huge difference in the way hubby’s girlfriend communicates and the way I communicate.  What this means is that because she is so private and concerned about information transfer, hubby and I can’t be as transparent and honest with each other as we’ve always been.  This means that the person hubby has brought into our lives has fundamentally changed the way we communicate with each other.  This is a huge realization for me.  It’s something that I didn’t foresee and now that it happened, I don’t understand how I didn’t realize it.  Hubby is required, by his girlfriend, to not talk to me about things he would normally come directly to me with.  We have secrets now.  Or he has secrets.  I’m still open and honest.  This makes me very sad and it’s going to take me some time to deal with the loss.

Honesty and transparency is a great rule.  Until someone who doesn’t want to be part of the chain of honesty modifies it to mean something it was never limited to before. So what I cherish about honesty and transparency means something different to other people. Sometimes those other people will change the way you think about honesty and transparency too.

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Author: Polyagony or Polyamory

In August 2016, after 10 years of being "happily" married, my husband and I decided to embark on a life embracing polyamory. This blog is about that adventure. It's a place for me to let out my thoughts and emotions, as we discover the good and the bad of the life we have chosen. Several months later, the path we have chosen has led us down different paths, farther and farther away from each other, but no less of an adventure. If anything interests you, I'd love your comments and feedback. Discussion and differing opinions are always welcome.

7 thoughts on “Honesty and Transparency”

  1. She is allowed her privacy. If you are against hierarchy as you’ve stated earlier in your blog, you’ll understand that you do not have the right to expect your husband to violate her privacy boundaries. That is hierarchical polyamory where the married couple have privilege over outsiders. You’re expecting her to be uncomfortable as the “price” of dating your husband.

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    1. Of course she has the right to her privacy. I never suggested otherwise. I would never ask my husband to violate her privacy boundaries. In fact, if he did, I would be very disappointed in him. I don’t expect her to be uncomfortable. I just am uncomfortable with the changes she’s brought to the way hubby and I communicate. I don’t understand her way of communicating, and that’s OK. I’m not trying to force her to be something she’s not. In fact, I’m the one making the compromises, not her.

      I don’t know where your judgemental conclusions came from, as they are so far from the words I wrote.

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      1. Okay. Perhaps I was a little harsh. It was a response to something in your post that I’ve encountered as someone dating the partner of someone in a primary relationship. You see, that assumption that one’s husband could date and bond with another human being and everything stay the same in that husband’s world is indicative of how “secondaries” are thought of in the general sense. I mean, I’m a human being! A pretty awesome one! So of course people who bond with me, especially on such an intimate level are going to be somewhat influenced by my thoughts, feelings, desires etc. Just like they were when they met their spouse. Of course when those people realise they want me to stick around in their lives, they are going to want to do at least some of the things that I need in order to do that. And some of the things might oppose the original agreements they made about how a theoretical person was going to fit into their lives. But that’s the trouble with making those assumptions. Nobody can really say how their ethical non monogamy is going to look until they meet people who want to engage with them in that way.

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      2. Wow…. I agree with most of the blog. I am sorry, for hierarchy in our relationships.
        We are all human beings and we are all entitled to privacy of course, but for me, not at the expense of my primary relationship.
        At the end of it all, I married to this man, share my life, our children, our finances, our properties… I am indebted to him as much as he is to me. I am obligated to him as much as he is obligated to me. That is even stronger if we are committed to each other and each others’ happiness.

        Now, in poly (mind you were are in poly infancy in our own arrangement) we decided to allow each other to share our time, our thoughts, our emotions and our bodies with people outside our ‘commodity of goods.’
        And within that, I need a lot of reassurance of what’s going on. I can’t feel like something this ‘passionate’ is going on on my husband’s side and I have to be in the dark about it. I don’t care how confident and strong you are. That situations breathes fear and insecurity into a relationship. And I personally refuse to live in that relationship where I have to wonder what exactly is my husband thinking or feeling. Is his feelings developing to a point beyond my comfort? How can I adjust myself when I have little room to adjust to?
        I’m sorry…. the grey area leaves the mind to wonder…. I would rather not be placed in that situation. And probably draw a line in the sand.

        I don’t need to know your sexual position, or intimate flirt, or what you ordered for dinner, of if my husband paid….

        But definitely need to feel like I am ABLE to ask anything and the answer would be forthcoming.

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      3. I think as long as you are forthcoming about what you feel you need to protect your relationship before you bond with others, that is the most important thing. So others, like me, can see from the outset that we have different goals. I try to do that myself. But I think everyone must bear in mind that feelings can change and someone who initially agrees to certain boundaries may find over time and bonding that they no longer work for them. I’m talking about the “secondary” here, but the same thing can happen with a “primary” towards their “secondary”. When that happens, assuming that the “primary” couple decide to stick with their original boundaries, I think it’s important that they don’t label that person as bad in any way. Or dishonest. They are just a human who developed unexpected feelings that weren’t returned.

        What is interesting for primary couples to consider is what of their relationship they would be comfortable sharing outside of their relationship. So for example, what if the secondary needed feelings of reassurance about her place in his life, and part of that meant sharing details of the thoughts and plans the two of you share? Is that level of reassurance and security from him reserved solely for you? This isn’t a judgement; I’d only think it wrong if you weren’t upfront about the answer with the people you and/or he dates.

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      4. No, I completely agree with you here. The new person should have a clear viewpoint as to where they fit in the mold, and have the opportunity to choose it or refuse it.
        If the person over time develops feelings that are contrary to what the mold outlined and the couple is holding fast to it; it would be unfair to cause havoc on the lives of the ‘primary’s’ because the new persons feelings have changed and theirs remained the same.

        I think reassurance is important part in any relationship. I think sharing is also good with the secondary and with the primary; once within bounds. I say this because I’m not going to ask him about her account balance nor should she ask him about ours for example.

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  2. If my husband is committed to my happiness, then this bears much weight in making me unhappy… and for that he needs to consider restructuring between his women.

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