Alt.polyamory FAQ - the first supplement

How to f*** up

The following list of answers to questions about polyamory is not a guide to how to have a working polyamorous relationship, although we have strong anecdotal evidence that the tools mentioned are useful in all sorts of relationships, mono and poly. We do, however, have the following guide of carefully tested methods for making mistakes in polyamorous relationships. With proper application and ingenuity, these methods may impair or destroy monogamous relationships as well; they're truly multipurpose tools. We post this listing for your consideration; no liability expressed or implied.

1. Lie. This is basic and effective. To maximize bad results, lie about something important to the other person(s) and arrange to be caught in the lie in such a way as to produce maximum shock. Additional stress points awarded for keeping the lie going for a while before discovery, which increases the disorientation and sense of betrayal in the deceived person(s). Lying about sex gets double points. Lying about being married gets triple f***-up points. Creative lies of omission (i.e. "not telling") with fancy rationalizations and condescension get gold stars.

2. Avoid self-knowledge. This is more elegant than strategy 1, as it combines a bold sweep of denial with sorties of distraction aimed at oneself. This tactic is most effective when combined with tactics 3 and 4. Self-destructive or addictive behaviour has also been found very effective in avoiding self-knowledge by our researchers. When combined with an endearing attitude of helplessness, this strategy has been proven efficacious in attracting "rescuers" or "white knights" on whom one can then practice strategies 4 and 3, in that order.

3. Blame the other person(s). If anything went wrong, hey, it must be their fault, right? This eliminates the need for messy things like communication and negotiation, which can be embarrassing, particularly if one is using strategy 2.

4. Disclaim responsibility. This is a little more complex than strategy 3, and often includes what is referred to as "codependency". The classic way to play this strategy is to cater to the partner(s) involved while repressing one's own desires and questions. This allows a good head of resentment to build up, and one can justify anger by saying one has done so *much* for one's partner(s) and gets no thanks, etc. In its most refined state, this strategy makes the other person(s) responsible for setting the direction, pace and content of the relationship, for which one can them blame them if one's own expectations or needs are not met. Using strategy 2 to avoid knowledge of these expectations and needs gets double points.

5. Push. This is an art, albeit a crude one. When augmented with strategy 6, pushing can achieve spectacular negative results in even a short time. Remember, when pushing, only *your* satisfaction counts! It's a dog eat dog world, and you're a pit bull. Emotional and mental bullying can be as satisfying as old-fashioned physical coercion, and not nearly as easily prosecutable.

6. Play on insecurity. This is an old favorite. Using sexual insecurity as a weapon and combining this with strategy 5 is a four-star winner. Attempting to control one's partner(s) by manipulating them through their insecurities is a sure-fire f***-up tactic. It's so much more delicate than simply beating them up, too, though the resultant emotional damage can be remarkably similar.

7. Avoid intimacy. This may seem paradoxical; after all, we're talking about getting up-close and personal with as many hot bi babes -- er, ahem -- we're discussing achieving satisfyingly close relationships with a number of people, right? The trick of avoiding intimacy can be performed in several ways, but the easiest is to confuse intimacy with "rubbing slippery bits together". Substitute the words "sex" and "love" for each other often in conversations. Repeat the mantra, "If you loved me, you'd know what I want." Practice strategy 8 assiduously, supplementing it with strategy 2. According to the needs of the moment, figure out whether action or words are more likely to be ambiguous or misconstrued, and go with what gives you the most plausible deniability later. Some exceptionally talented individuals manage to give the impression of being intimate while successfully remaining stone-cold. Study sales techniques for pointers. People with good "lines" fall into this category, especially if the lines include explanations of how they truly *value* the other person.

8. Don't talk. Talking has been known to lead to communication if practiced carelessly. Communication will seriously impair your f***-up progress, and in certain cases will halt or reverse it entirely. If you *must* talk, use cliches and quotations from popular songs as much as possible, or fall back on strategy number 1.

If all else fails, make a safer-sex agreement with your partner(s) and then break it, contracting a communicable disease about which you do not then tell them. Double points for avoiding all discussion or negotiation of sexual matters entirely so that the "agreement" is wishful thinking and completely deniable. For a coup de grace, add strategy 6 and tell them it wouldn't have happened if they had been satisfying you like they were supposed to.

9. For the ultimate metaf***-up, remain technically faithful to your partner while breaking the spirit of whatever agreement you have whenever possible, keeping this knowledge bottled up to ensure maximum fear, shame and resentment. Some people win the grand prize with the figleaf-and-stinging-nettle cluster for self-inflicted suffering and wasted potential by managing to keep this strategy up until death do them part, concealing from their spouse the fact that they have been shamming happiness all these years.

Whew! Yuck! You know, writing those sure took me down memory lane. What I hoped to do with this little icky essay was illustrate the flip side of some of the tools in the toolbox for healthy poly (and other) relationships. These "bad tools" are humorous (pretty bent humor, too), but the good tools are serious.

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