Support is different than tolerance

There’s a common definition of polyamory that goes something like this:

Poly is having multiple romantic relationships with the full knowledge and consent of all people involved.

Like most definitions, it’s more the start of a conversation rather than the end of one, but I found in my own poly experiences that it was severely flawed in one particular way. After some reflection, I re-worded it for what actually worked for me:

Poly is having multiple romantic relationships with the full knowledge and support of all people involved.

It’s a subtle difference, but it meant the world to me when I was able to communicate it with the people with whom I was involved. Not because it suddenly made everything perfect; far from it. Many people who are poly can only tolerate the other relationships if they are not involved with everyone. The idea of helping their partner actively nurture other relationships can be completely out of the question, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But knowing that’s what your partner wants or what they can or can’t give can make all the difference.

It certainly has with me. And while I would never suggest that everyone should be poly, I have come to think that the difference between consent and support is something that applies universally. How much of a difference is it in a relationship when you change “Oh, yes, Gerald does his trains in the basement, I don’t bother with that silly stuff,” and “Gerald, I bought us both tickets to the train expo! I can’t wait for you to show me the stuff you love so much.”?

Just a thought as you go into the weekend: are you supporting your partner’s passion? Or are you just tolerating it? How are they treating your passions?

If there’s something that needs changing, well, I hope that conversation goes well. Whether it does or not, though, I hope you understand how necessary it is.

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