The end is the beginning

A reporter sent a query through the Internets the other day.  I answered early this morning, though since the deadline was last night, these particular thoughts will never reach that particular reporter.  Nevertheless, I think it’s worth discussing, so here’s what I wrote:

A little late to the party, but in case you’re still looking for input, I think you’re framing the question poorly from a polyamorous standpoint.  Many poly people (myself included) have concluded that “success” in relationships is not necessarily equated with “longevity.”  “Success” in any relationship (not just poly) should be about whether the relationship accomplishes the goals that are right for that relationship, e.g., companionship, hot sex, parenting, co-housing, personal growth, etc.  If that relationship is no longer serving those needs, then perhaps a restructuring of the relationship is desirable.  As Richard Bach said, “When a [relationship] comes to an end, we are free to call it a failure.  We are also free to call it a graduation.”

I find that this is the sort of paradigm shift that’s really important to make when transitioning from mono to poly.  We have so many assumptions about what constitutes “success,” or “failure,” or even “relationship,” and they tend to get in the way of starting, maintaining, and/or gracefully ending poly relationships.

I find that when you remove the requirements of exclusivity and longevity from a relationship, you are left with CHOICE — with complete freedom comes the ability to choose to be in any given relationship at any given time… or not.  I happen to choose to remain in some sort of relationship with most of my past partners and lovers, even if that relationship is “only” friendship. I don’t consider those relationships “failures” anymore than I consider myself to have “failed” when I graduated from college.

How about you? What are your “metrics for success”? When is a completed relationship a “failure”?  Is it possible to have one be a “graduation,” and what would that take?

(who has been thinking a lot about what constitutes a “successful” relationship, lately–watch this space for more postings on this general topic!]

[Follow some more discussion on this thread over at my personal Facebook:, and at my business page:]

Date: Mon, Nov 1, 2010 at 6:07 PM
Subject: Reporter Looking for Experts on Polyamorous Relationships

Summary: Successful—and Unsuccessful Polyamorous Relationships and Marriages

Working on a story about polyamorous relationships—purely sexual
and/or emotional. Honesty is key to making things successful, but
how do you separate emotions—or do you? How do you broach the
subject with your partner/spouse? What are the dynamics that make
these relationship(s) work? What are the “rules”, and what
happens when things cross the line? Looking for success stories,
and tales of crashing and burning when things fell apart (and
why). Happy to receive stories via email, but would love to
connect with 1-3 couples via phone in the next few
days. Anonymity guaranteed, if requested.

<3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3
* Creating Empowering Agreements @ Marcia Baczynski’s Creating Sustainable Open Relationships series, 12/4/10

2 thoughts on “The end is the beginning

  1. dawnd Post author

    Leah, that’s an interesting way to think of it! I think to answer that particular question, I’d probably say that such an education could be “successful,” but would be naturally limited in some important ways. However, looking at it from the relationships side, in the same way that I’d be surprised if that unitary teacher never introduced outside concepts (e.g., through books), I think it’s quite possible for a monogamous relationship to be “successful” over 17 years without other sexual partners–I’m guessing that other *contact* is allowed, for instance friends, co-workers, church-mates, etc.

    It’s a different KIND of information in both cases, but doesn’t necessarily speak either way about the “success” of the venture.

  2. Leah

    My new way of describing this (prompted by a conversation with A, which was probably prompted by this post) is:

    Would you consider a child’s education successful if they had had the same teacher from kindergarden through bachelor’s degree (17 years)?


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