ZAPoly Discussion Topic : Relationship Check Ins

Any relationships take effort to maintain. Polyamorous relationships can take multiple times the effort. One way to ensure you are looking after all your relationships is to have regular check ins. These can also be called "family meetings", Check Ups or just plain old conversations.

Relationship Check Ins are a way for you to have regular interaction with your partner/s on an ongoing and planned basis. The idea is to avoid the "We have to talk" moment by having a safe space arranged and prepared for to discuss any topics that are impacting your relationship. It is recommended to come to an agreement of a set time period - monthly, weekly, every two weeks etc, to have a relationship check in. This is important to help encourage regular communication especially for people who struggle to communicate easily, for those who have never really learned how to communicate and just for anyone who has a generally busy life. 

See below for ideas on what topics to incorporate. Initially this may seem daunting or perhaps even "over kill" but just setting aside the time and planning these together with those you love will help make it less of a chore. Refining the "Agenda" to what suits you and adjusting the terminology will also contribute to making it easier to incorporate in your day to day life.


What is R.A.D.A.R? 

Types of things that you might want to include on your agenda: 

Check-Ins and Concern Trolling
"Let's say you want to date someone. But your partner says they have concerns about it. How do you know they're not just jealous and inventing a 'concern?'"

Remember to HALT (or HHALTTD) - If you realize that you’re not being as effective at communicating because you’re hungry, or angry, or lonely, or tired, or horny, or drunk, or whatever it is.
Are you Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired?
If so, right now is probably not the best time to talk, especially if the subject matter is uncomfortable or difficult.
If you’re hungry, that’s an obvious fix.
If you’re tired, it might be deciding to take a break from your talk to take a nap or an agreement to resume discussion in the morning after a full night’s rest.
But what about feeling angry and lonely? Sometimes those feelings are the very reason you feel you need to talk! When your negative emotions are stirring, it takes willpower in order to remain calm and respectful when hashing things out with your partner. However, your willpower is a limited resource, and trying to stuff down negative emotions makes that energy deplete even faster. We recommend stopping and agreeing on an amount of time that you and your partner will take before resuming the issue. This could be anywhere from an hour to a week, depending on what feels right. The idea is that when you come back to it, you’ll be calm, collected, and better able to continue talking without biting someone’s head off.

The Tri-force of Communication

(What is the goal of your communication?)

  1. Just want to share and be heard

  2. Seeking sympathy, comfort, praise, or celebration

  3. Trying to solve a problem, seeking help or advice

It's Not About The Nail

Non-Violent Communication
There are a plethora of resources for the communication technique known as Non-Violent Communication. NVC stresses the importance of communicating with compassion instead of with combative or violent behaviour.
There are 4 primary steps to employing NVC:

  1. State an observation of what happened, free of interpretation, accusation, or spin. 

  2. Express your feelings (emotional honesty comes in handy here) without applying any story about something that was done to you by others. 

  3. Express what it is you need. 

  4. Make a request that is not a demand or an ultimatum. Your partner should feel free to say either “yes” or “no”, or to negotiate the request. 

NVC takes practice before it becomes second nature, and it will require you to slow down and be very mindful when you’re in the midst of an argument. In our personal experience, NVC can be an excellent tool that allows you to be heard, even if your partner hasn’t studied it at all.

Make Your Partner Feel Understood By Reflecting
Reflecting is a technique that will really challenge your ability to listen to your partner. As in actually listening, not just sitting there formulating a response while you wait for them to stop speaking. (We’ve all done it.) You can choose to reflect by mirroring. Listen to your partner express their feelings and their take on the situation. Then, repeat back to them exactly what they said, trying to keep it short and simple. This assures your partner that you are paying attention and receiving what they said. It also allows them the chance to correct anything that may have been misheard or misunderstood. You can also reflect by paraphrasing. Paraphrasing involves repeating back what the speaker has said to you, but using your own words. This highlights not only listening, but that you are also trying to understand your partner’s thoughts and feelings. Proceed with caution and with calm when you are paraphrasing, as it can sometimes be interpreted as trying to over-simplify your partner’s point of view. Remember that reflecting is an ongoing process. It may take several passes and repetition before you partner feels like they have been adequately understood!

Difficult Conversations Formula

A protocol for enhancing conversations especially when they are challenging.

Emotional honesty
Emotional honesty means expressing your true feelings. To be emotionally honest we must first be emotionally aware. This emotional awareness is related to our emotional intelligence. It is our emotional intelligence, combined with the necessary learning, practice and experience, which gives us the ability to accurately identify our feelings.

Emotional Awareness
Emotional awareness means knowing when feelings are present in ourselves and others. It is closely related to emotional literacy, which means being able to label feelings with specific feeling words. At its highest level it means being able to predict feelings in advance.

-- South African Polyamory

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