This entry in the Agreements Workbook series is from Appendix B, a collection of example Agreements. This one is an example of a Relationship Agreement (as opposed to a Safer Sex Agreement, which I’ll cover next).
Please feel free to make comments or ask questions, either here, or on my FB Page, Love Outside The Box.
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True confessions: I was hopeful that I’d be posting Tip #2 next. I have officially given up that notion for the moment in favor of posting some of the other stuff I wrote while out on the boat with my friend. Just because I have writer’s block around the next section doesn’t mean I can’t put up some useful stuff! It’ll just be out of order. [Death to perfectionism! "Get a C!" as Samantha Bennett says!] Since when has order been required for information to be helpful, after all? (Certainly my life is often “out of order”–in many ways!!) You want it in order? You’ll have to buy the book once I manage to get through this!
So this section will be another of the Appendices. This one is tentatively part of Appendix B, a collection of various example Agreements. As I discussed in last month’s East Bay Poly Discussion Group (on the topic of making tricky/safer sex Agreements), I usually recommend that agreements around safer sex/epidemiology/virology be separated out from Agreements around emotional safety, and other Relationship Agreements. Trying to achieve safer sex through emotional safety agreements (e.g., “No falling in love!” as a safer sex agreement…) is often ineffective, leads to drama, and is sometimes downright dangerous.
Caveats, Whys, and Wherefores
This is (somewhat obviously) NOT a Safer Sex Agreement. I’ll give you the matching Safer Sex portion of this Agreement in the next post. And then I’ll give you some other examples, written by other people.
This is an example Relationship Agreement. It is not the One True Right and Only Way to do an Agreement. It’s just ONE way. It’s not necessarily the best way. You’ll need to work out for yourself what the best way is for you.
It’s very couple-centric (aka “hierarchical” or “Primary-Secondary type”). If that’s not your relationship style, it may be less helpful to you as a “recipe” to follow. However, you can still use it as a jumping off point, or a way to generate ideas about what YOU might find important to discuss, or to put in a written Relationship Agreement. Try it on. Keep what works for you. Don’t worry about the rest.
Relationship Agreements for “Example House”
(A fictitious poly household made up of two married primary partners, their children, and an unspecified number of other partners)
Partner: Someone who is involved (sexually or romantically) with one of the Primary partners of the relationship. Not
Someone who one of the primaries plays with at parties, but is not an ongoing relationship.
Relationship Partner: An on-going partner; extended family.
Primary Partnership: Committed relationship; “married”, whether by law or by public affirmation. Currently (as of “Month/Day/Year”) Example House has two primary partners, Partner A and Partner B, who are married by law.
1) Partners will keep the primary relationship primary.
2) Partners agree to follow the Safer Sex Agreement for the household as appropriate to their Level of sexual intimacy (see Safer Sex Agreements for Example House for more information about Levels [another post in this series]).
3) All relationship partners agree that personal growth is a primary value for themselves and for their partnerships.
4) All relationship partners agree to use good communications skills to the best of their ability, and to continue to better those skills within themselves.
5) All partners agree to treat each other with respect and courtesy. This includes showing up for dates, calling in advance if possible when there is a change of plans, speaking thoughtfully as much as possible.
6) Relationship partners must be contributory to the primary relationship and family in some way.
7) Relationship partners must be kid friendly. This doesn’t necessarily apply to play partners, but it is a plus.
8 ) At the other (non-participating) partner’s discretion, as much information as the other partner wants gets shared after the date, as long as it doesn’t violate confidentiality with the playmate (and that confidentiality doesn’t affect the other partner).
9) If there is a problem that causes another primary partner distress, the activity will stop until a path for safety can be put into action. This is intended to be a time-limited agreement for the shortest time possible.
10) When the primary relationship is in serious crisis, partners agree to attempt to work things through and find appropriate assistance if necessary. If parting seems necessary after working through this particular issue, any decision to part will be made mutually, and not unilaterally. Abuse of any partner (or child) can nullify this agreement.
11) No assumption will be made about leaving a partner to tend to the kid(s). Inasmuch as possible, partners will not be left tending the kid(s) while the other partner is off playing with a date. Exceptions to this agreement can be negotiated.
12) Scheduling of dates will be agreed upon by all primary partners beforehand.
13) Our room is left clean and neat after a playmate has been over. Bed made, no condoms, wrappers, toys, etc. lying around.
ADDITIONAL AGREEMENTS FOR INTIMATE GATHERINGS:
1) If one partner is “left out” with no one to play with, they have express permission to come check in with the other partner and request time with them. Unless it is an emergency, this ideally would happen only after at least an
hour, but soon enough not to cause distress in the “left out” partner.
2) Partners agree to “check in” with each other before playing with a brand new partner. This can take place before or during the event.
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[© 2011 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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