Tuesday, May 08, 2007

How to not (emotionally) slam into a (relationship) guardrail

There is a concept they teach you when riding a motorcycle called “Target Fixation”, understanding this can save your life. See, when you are swerving to avoid something or taking an overly sharp corner, your natural instinct is to focus on the thing you are trying to avoid. However by doing this you are not going to avoid said thing, instead you are going to slam right the fuck into it. Instead, they tell you to look not at the thing you want to avoid but rather look in the direction of where you want to be… and the bike will follow.

I like to apply this rule to my poly. For me it is far too easy to focus on the thing that I fear the most. For example, one of my constant fears is that by having so many things and people all vying for my time and attention that I am constantly short changing one or all of my partners at any given time. This fear can drive me to exhaustion as I work to second guess what they might be lacking from me or seek reassurance from them that they are feeling fully loved and cherished by me. In doing so I also drive them (and myself) insane. Thing is, if you focus too much time and attention on the thing you are trying most to avoid, you will make it come true. It is sorta like saying, “Whatever you do, don’t think about bananas”. What happens? All you can now think about are those damned bananas.

Meanwhile back at the motorcycle metaphor, how do you avoid becoming a grease stain on that jersey barrier then? Look through the turn to where you need to be in order to avoid the collision. For me that means, and I have to remind myself of this often, that rather than focus on the “oh fuck, I’m short changing my partners!” I ask myself, “am I fully present and enjoying the time I am blessed to have with them?” This means not dragging shop drama home and making it the focus of the date. Sure it is one thing to talk about the stresses of the day, it is another to let them ruin the few precious hours you have with someone you love. Don’t obsess over what things my over active sense of guilt might want to convince me that I am not doing for them and realistically assess what time and energy I can give and give it, even if it is less time than you would like, fully.

It also means that when they tell you, that even though you are currently a stress monkey and not the most entertaining of partners to have around, they still love you.

You trust them.

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