By Rami Henrich, LCSW
A topic that rears its head from time to time in many polyamorous relationships, and monogamous ones as well, is the issue of betrayal and trust.
It seems that most of us have experienced betrayal at some time in our lives…could have been a parent who didn’t keep their word to do something promised, or a friend who said they would call but didn’t. Little betrayals happen all the time, every day in many ways and perhaps we experience them as little hurts. When they are ongoing, we might experience betrayal, and find ourselves losing our ability to trust.
In polyamorous relationships being able to trust is paramount. After all, the idea of being polyamorous is built on the idea of being open, honest, transparent, consenting. Negotiating relationships takes time and requires patience. Core values need to be discussed, logistics around time, money, children (if they are in the relationship), dating, including others etc. all need to be negotiated. A slip up on decisions made, often after frequent and lengthy discussions, can set one to wondering; slipping up more than once can significantly alter the relationship. Recently, at a poly support group, one participant shared about her history of betrayal by men and how her worldview had changed so that she now expected men to betray her.
One side of the equation is the one who has been betrayed, on the other side the betrayer. It seems that most of us identify with the one who has been hurt, the “victim,” so to speak of the betrayal. But how many of us have betrayed, have been the untrustworthy one? That side is generally less explored, and more difficult to identify with.
In poly relationships, the complexity of relationship structures demand a level of truth, transparency, and willingness to work through times when there is a breakdown of trust. Some say that it is the little things that build trust, others the big things. What do you think? Maybe both?