Getting To Win-Win [Agreements Workbook entry]

Two stylized hands clasping, forming a heart. Copyright-free symbol designed by Ravi Poovaiah, Professor, IDC, IIT Bombay.

This is another “orphan” entry in the Agreements Workbook, [UPDATE: purchase the whole workbook here for only $10!] one I skipped earlier, and am returning to now.  It belongs right after the entry on the Continua Worksheet — you can download the Continua Worksheet itself for free — and right before Agreements & Requests: 4 Guidelines to YES!

Honestly, I think that this section might be one of THE most important in the book.  It’s crucially important to understand that without a focus on WIN-WIN-WIN (etc) for the entire relationship as a whole, it’s not possible to make functional and lasting Agreements. This shift to a cooperative, co-creative model of meeting needs — and away from a competitive one — is fundamental to what I mean when I talk about my own orientation toward Love as a spiritual path. For me, being truly IN LOVE with my partners means that their needs are as important to me as my own — not more important, nor less important, but instead equally important. It’s another place where I try to remember to ask “WWLD?” (What Would Love Do? ;^)

Do you have any questions or comments about these Agreements Workbook entries? As always, I’m happy to answer questions or engage in discussion either here, or on my FB Page, Love Outside The Box. I’m also happy to create coaching packages to help you create your own set of Agreements tailored to your situation. We can discuss your particular needs in a mini-consultation, if that floats your boat.

May you always love boldly, safely, and well!

~♥ Dawn

∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥

Getting to Win-Win

“Negotiating” is not a synonym for “giving up”

Some people[1] try to negotiate by just giving in. For whatever reason—perhaps they don’t know what their needs are; don’t think they’re worth having others help to meet them; expect that they can’t get them anyway, etc.—these people don’t bring their needs to the table, don’t state them, or don’t state them clearly. Then they’re puzzled as to why no one ever takes care of them, why they’re always so exhausted, or why they feel resentful down the line. They’ll often say “whatever YOU want dear,” but expect the other person to mind-read, already know what they want/need, or to anticipate their needs and factor them in.

This is a very bad strategy. At the very least, it often leads this person to be perpetually waiting for other people to fulfill needs that they’ve never stated (see the “Grandmother” joke on p. __.) In its most pernicious form, it’s flat-out passive-aggressive, confusing, maddening, and will eventually erode the relationship from neither party getting what they really need.

The relationship needs your needs

It’s important for both/all parties to honor that both people’s needs are important, and need to be met.  Why is this? It’s because the relationship needs your needs.

“Say what? That makes no sense!” I can hear some of you saying.

I’ll say it again: The relationship needs your needs.

One way to think about the dynamics of a relationship is to realize that to some degree, the relationship itself is one of the players in the negotiation game. The idea behind negotiation is to get to a win-win-win scenario, where no one feels taken advantage of, and everyone gets what they need, and even some or most of what they want. On the flip side of what I just discussed — passive-aggressive behavior — each party can end up feeling in competition with the other/s for scarce resources. (This is a really great recipe for jealousy, by the way; see Fig. __[Kathy Labriola‘s 4-Part Jealousy Model, which is available on the backside of the Jealousy Diagnosis sheet, also available as a free download].)

In Fig.___ below, I’ve included a very small matrix (a table) of a relationship between two people, with Person A along the top, and Person B along the side. [Sorry for the crappy formatting here; consider it a little incentive to buy the book once I get it out! ;)]

Person A:











Fig. __: Matrix of Win vs. Lose for Person A, Person B, and the Relationship as a whole


Of course, many polyamorous or non-exclusive relationships have more than two people in them.  However, if you break things down, it rapidly becomes apparent that one way to look at multiple relationships is as a series of dyads, or pairs, in addition to another entity, the relationship as a whole (see Appendix A for a more detailed explanation.)

So if we accept for the purpose of this example that the ideal in any interaction between two people in relationship is to end up supporting the relationship (otherwise there wouldn’t be a need for an Agreement…), then there is only one way in which that can happen in the scenario in Fig. ___. Only if both Person A and Person B feel like they’ve “won” does the relationship win. If either one feels like they’ve lost, then the relationship as a whole has lost.  If the relationship loses enough times—and especially if one of the partners loses all or most of the time—then eventually, there will be no relationship.

Please note that for the relationship to win, it’s not possible for one or both of the people to capitulate, “cave in,” or otherwise give up their needs completely. That also will lead the relationship to lose, and as we discussed above, eventually that leads to no relationship. Remember: the relationship needs your needs!

So somehow, you’ll need to get to a point where everyone’s needs are being addressed, and the relationship as a whole is “winning.” That’s where negotiation comes in, which I’ll cover in the next section.

[1] True confessions time: In this section, you can assume that when I say “they,” I really mean “I.” Not only have I gone there more than once, I’ve got a season pass, so to speak. I speak from personal experience!

 ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥

[© 2012 Dawn M. Davidson]

Note that these entries are all rough drafts, and thus are probably missing things like references. If you know the perfect reference to add, feel free to suggest it! I always like to add to my resource collection.

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2 thoughts on “Getting To Win-Win [Agreements Workbook entry]

  1. Pingback: Gratitude, Control, and Acceptance in Poly Community | Love Outside the Box (formerly: Uncharted Love)

  2. Pingback: The “Fun Factor” in Agreements [Tip #4] — Uncharted Love

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