It's something you hear a lot when a previously monogamous couple decides to become polyamorous and start seeing other people. They say, "Of course we have veto power over each other's other partners. If something doesn't feel okay to me, then I tell my partner they have to end the other relationship."
I understand why people say this. My lovers and I said the same thing when I began practicing poly. I said it so my partner wouldn't feel insecure; my partners said it as a way of reassuring themselves that they had some control over the situation. Those aren't bad things to want. It's just that the veto clause is rather like the nuclear weapon of poly: Using it might neutralize one set of threats, but it's going to create other problems that won't have a quick fix.
Let's break down the potential chain of events. Your honey starts seeing someone else. It's great for a while, but then something happens and you feel jealous and scared and it isn't fun anymore. So you invoke the veto and demand that your partner dump the other person.
One of two things will happen. Outcome A is that your sweetie will indeed break up with the other lover. But you can bet he/she won't be happy about it, so you'll have a resentful partner who's lost some trust in you. And since the two of you will not have worked out whatever issue it was that made you call veto, the same scenario will occur over and over again. If not corrected, the tension and emotional distance this cycle creates will poison your relationship.
Outcome B is that your partner will say, "No, I won't break it off." Then what will you do? Throw a fit? Pack your bags and leave? Stay and sulk? You don't have any really good options there.
Instead of making demands, I find it's better to work on listening to each other without defensiveness. I don't expect to never feel jealous or insecure in my poly life. Everybody feels that way at some time or other—including monogamous people—so you need to learn to fix the underlying problem instead of just pushing the red button. If Max, or one of Max's other partners, did something that I felt was inappropriate, I'd talk to him about that behavior. If necessary, all three of us would talk about it. If Max completely disagreed with my perceptions about the situation, then the problem isn't really her. The problem is that either I've misunderstood something, or Max and I have a major disconnect in our idea of what types of behaviors are okay and what aren't.
There is one point in time when you may invoke a veto without the nuclear fallout, and that time is before any relationship starts. I mean, way before. For example: Poly couple Pat and Chris meet Bob at a party. Pat thinks Bob is cute. Chris thinks he's crazy as a bedbug, but notices that Pat is flirting with Bob. In the car on the way home, Chris calmly remarks to Pat that apparently Bob often hears voices talking to him from electrical outlets. "So it's fine that you were flirting, but based on that, I'd be uncomfortable with you dating him."
That's an appropriately executed poly veto. It's not a guarantee that Pat will never date Bob. But starting the feedback before emotions and slippery bits get involved gives you a better chance of avoiding all-out war.
LEATHER-PLAY PARTY AT CLUB Z
Get kinky in the men's bathhouse that will not die. Play safe so you don't die either. Club Z, 1117 Pike St, 622-9958, 8 pm—midnight, fees vary, $3 off for SML members or those in full leather.
Dance, play, socialize, and be sexual in a softer, swing-club atmosphere. This week, a Masked Ball, à la Eyes Wide Shut with live music from the Pop Tarts. Wet Spot, 1602 15th Ave W, building E, 270-9746, email@example.com, 9 pm—2 am, $20, Wet Spot membership or membership in a local swing or sex-positive organization required.
BUTTON SOCIETY CONVENTION
An extensive display of vintage and antique buttons, primarily for the button collectors and historians, also of interest to sewers, quilters, and fetishists. How many of these old-timey buttons were ripped off in frenzy of lust? Let's say all of them. Trinity Presbyterian Church, 1315 N 160th St, Shoreline, 363-3500, 9:30 am—3 pm, free.
SPEED DATING FOR TOPS AND BOTTOMS
Want to meet someone? At this event, 20 tops and 20 bottoms will chat for five minutes and at the sound of the bell, move one person over, and start again. Wet Spot, 1602 15th Ave W, building E, 270-9746, firstname.lastname@example.org, 5—11 pm (doors close at 6 pm), $15, RSVP required, Wet Spot members and their guests only.
PARADISE POOL TIME
A clothing-optional "swim and be social" event at an indoor pool. The Longhouse in Redmond, email@example.com, 270-9746, noon—6 pm, $10, RSVP required, members and their guests only.
Polyamory means "many loves." If you are seeking more information about poly, join Robert Allen to discuss definitions, the sex-positive movement, relationship styles, and learn some helpful how-tos. Babeland, 707 E Pike St, 328-2914, 7:30 pm, free.