The below information is from the book More Than Two by Franklin Veax & Eve Rickert. You can find more information about it here : https://www.morethantwo.com/polyamorybooks
Before I ever read this book, I already had begun to traverse a life path that led me to the realization that the “normal” or “typical” relationships I saw around me and had been party too-didn’t live up to the standards of ethical behavior that I was learning about in my studies regarding relationships, communication, psychology, abuse, etc. This bothered me more than I could begin to explain.
As I read this book, over a 3 day span of time (I have since re-read it several times and often go back to read different sections as they pertain to my daily life), I found that the information contained within the book flowed easily hand-in-hand with the same principles of healthy boundaries, healthy communication and building healthy intimacies that I was studying in school. I was duly impressed with how well they outlined a bill of rights that included the same necessary components that we learned were invaluable to help people avoid being abusive or participating in abusive relationships.
I wrote these down, rewrote them, read them, re-read them and started to pull them out to consider in various classroom settings while we were discussing various relationship topics. This allowed me to consider them outside of the “poly circle” but in terms of ANY relationship dynamic, whether it is romantic or platonic, whether it is poly or mono or something else altogether. What I found is that across the board, my instructors (none of whom are poly by the way) all agreed that these were critical components of any healthy relationship and that these boundaries or limits were key in creating healthy relating on any level with other people.
And to that end, I have spent the last 18 months working to re-design my life, my beliefs, my attitudes and my behaviors to be more fitting to these expectations. Expectations that I have been learning in my studies but which I have only found listed all together, in the book More Than Two.
Unfortunately, this has resulted in some people to dig in their heels, in an effort to avoid making any major changes. Change is scary, for everyone, for myriad reasons. But it’s especially hard when it requires you to acknowledge that your way of relating to other people is dysfunctional or even abusive. No one wants to believe that they are participating in the abuse of other people (particularly ones that they care about) through behaviors that promote marginalization, objectification and false sense of ownership over them.
But-that is what most of us have been doing. The way we have been taught to handle relationships IS abusive. It IS a major component of what allows men to maintain power over women in this country and in the world. It IS a major component of what allows the ongoing public objectification and marginalization of women and minorities and especially women who are also minorities.
Being polyamorous or being monogamous has NOTHING to do with it. Nothing at all. You can be monogamous or polyamorous and still be promoting abusive relationships. Likewise you can be monogamous or polyamorous and NOT promote abusive relationships.
What you can’t do, is participate in any behavior that removes any other individuals rights without your behavior being part & parcel to the abuse of those persons.
Punishment isn’t a solution for abusive behaviors. It doesn’t stop the cycle (in fact, I could argue that it perpetuates the cycle). However, it is absolutely necessary for each of us individually to take responsibility to acknowledge where we have been abusive, take responsibility for that abusive behavior, alter our own attitudes, belief systems, moral compasses in such a manner that we no longer tolerate that behavior in ourselves AND possibly most importantly, to openly acknowledge what we have done, make amends to those we have harmed and teach others how to change their own attitudes, beliefs and moral compasses so that they don’t continue the same behaviors.
If there is one thing, one single thing in this world that I wish for, it is this;
I wish the man who proclaimed his undying love for me; the same man who raped me in a fit of jealousy-induced rage, to sincerely address in writing to me,
~which attitudes and beliefs he has figured out were wrong
~how they perpetuated his belief that raping me was his right
~how he intends to make amends for the lifelong damage it caused me
~how he intends to teach others that they need to alter their beliefs and attitudes
I don’t want to imprison him. But it does continue to cause ongoing emotional damage to me that the whole situation was swept under the carpet with “I’m sorry”. Years after that rape, numerous therapy sessions later, he was present when I was sexually assaulted by a man I did not know, but he was acquainted with. That scenario is described here:
To say it was devastating is an understatement. It was terrifying while it was happening, but in the 2 years and 8 months since that happened (which was YEARS after I was raped), I have had repeated issues with flashbacks and doubt. Why doubt?
Because, if the message that rape is wrong, the message that no one has a right to touch someone else without consent, the message that I am a real person with all of the same rights to say no as my partners; if that message was really made-
then how come my partner didn’t immediately take me away from the place where this man who assaulted me was?
Why didn’t he personally take me to the troopers and help me file a restraining order and press charges?
Why didn’t he, a man who apologized for his own crime against me, who claimed to have learned not to treat women as anything less than a man-why didn’t he stand and defend me in every possible legal way?
Why did he feel that hugging me and telling me it wouldn’t happen again was remotely acceptable?
Why is it that even today, he is capable of pointblank telling me “I fail to see how I’m promoting it at all.” in response to me saying that the reason I keep sharing meme’s and articles and quotes with him regarding the mistreatment of women, the objectification of women, the marginalization of women-is because I want and NEED him as a man-to stand up and fight the system, fight himself, fight anyone and everyone else who does anything that promotes, propogates, reinforces the overwhelmingly entrenched patriarchal belief systems and behaviors in this country that are destroying women from the time they realize that they are girls, until they die.
How is it that he can even delude himself into believing he isn’t a part of the problem (and therefore a key component to the solution) when he has already acknowledged that he has at least once taken an action against a woman that was using his male power (physical & psychological in that case) to use the combination of violence & sex that constituted raping me-to vent his emotions?
How can he ever believe that he doesn’t need to be an activist for women’s rights for the rest of his life as part of making amends for the damage he caused?
We can’t change the world all in one swift move.
The world will be changed by the steps we take to actively pursue treating all people we encounter in our daily lives with equal respect and honor.
We will alter the world for the better by holding ourselves accountable to create relationships that honor individuals personal rights.
We will reduce the marginalization and abuse of women, children, minorities, by eradicating in ourselves the beliefs, morals, values, attitudes and behaviors that propagate discrepancies in how we treat other people.
We will eradicate marginalization and abuse throughout the world after holding ourselves accountable, when we teach all of those around us that we will not tolerate their beliefs, morals, values, attitudes or behaviors that propagate discrepancies in how they treat others, discrepancies that allow for and tolerate hatred in the form or sexism, racism, classism, and all other manners of pushing any person(s) below another for any reason.
This relationship bill of rights drawn up by Franklin Veaux and Eve Rickert is a great start to holding ourselves accountable by maintaining our own healthy boundaries and respecting other people’s as well.
Relationship Bill of Rights
You have the right, without shame, blame or guilt:
In all intimate relationships:
- To be free from coercion, violence and intimidation
- To choose the level of involvement and intimacy you want
- To revoke consent to any form of intimacy at any time
- To be told the truth
- To say no to requests
- To hold and express differing points of view
- To feel all of your emotions
- To feel and communicate your emotions and your needs
- To set clear boundaries concerning your privacy needs
- To set clear limits on the obligations you will make
- To seek balance between what you give to the relationship and what is given back to you
- To know that your partner will work with you to resolve problems that arise
- To choose whether you want a monogamous or polyamorous relationship
- To grow and change
- To make mistakes
- To end a relationship
In poly relationships:
- To decide how many partners you want
- To choose your own partners
- To have an equal say with each of your partners in deciding the form your relationship with that partner will take
- To choose the level of time and investment you will offer to each partner
- To understand clearly any rules that will apply to your relationships before entering it
- To discuss with your partners decisions that affect you
- To have time alone with each of your partners
- To enjoy passion and special moments with each of your partners
In a poly network:
- To choose the level of involvement and intimacy you want with your partners other partners
- To be treated with courtesy
- To seek compromise
- To have relationships with people, not with relationships *
- To have plans made with your partner be respected; not changed for trivial reasons
- To be treated as a peer of every other person, not as a subordinate, even when differing level so commitment or responsibility exist.
The implication of these “rights” is that they are individual rights and thus no one else has the right to put restrictions on them. This means none of your partners get to take them away from you. This also means that no relationship boundaries can infringe upon these individual rights. Relationship boundaries must be created in a way that supports the individuals within the relationship, without infringing upon their individual rights or the individual rights of anyone else.
*This means that you have the right to have a relationship with an individual and are not required to maintain a relationship with anyone else in your partners’ life; which would put you in the position of having a relationship with their other “relationship”
Things to keep in mind when negotiating boundaries
“It is especially important that the people involved feel they are agreeing to the relationship on purpose, that they see value in the other person that makes the relationship a positive choice for both of them.”
“If you negotiate away your integrity, ethics or agency, you are no longer a full and equal participant in the relationship. You must also be aware of your partner’s boundaries, and not ask (or expect) him/her to compromise past those points.”
“Be careful not to compromise on behalf of other people. Sometimes when we’re trying to find a way out of an impasse, we may be tempted to make compromises that affect other people-especially when those other people are still hypothetical. It can be tempting to try to ease stress by bargaining away their agency (rights) in advance, such as by agreeing to limitations on their behavior (with one of you).”