The Troubled Pasts of People That Do Things That We Don’t Like

Monday, Oct. 11th 2010 8:39 PM

I recently engaged in a lively conversation about polygamy and the phenomenon of people who seem to seek and prefer relationships with more than one partner, and/or people who seek intimacy with people who already happen to be in relationship. A friend, ordinarily progressive in her thinking and willing to hear other points of view, vehemently stated that “these people” who want polygamous relationships, or who are willing to allow their mates to participate in polygamous relationships, seem to have issues that stem from “being raised wrong, mommy/daddy deficiencies, low self-esteem or other historical problems.” She echoes the sentiments of many who cannot understand certain behaviors, but I encouraged her, and would like to challenge you, my readers, to re-examine the assumptions behind such judgments.

When it comes to mommy/daddy issues, difficult childhoods, and low self-esteem, there is certainly no shortage of people in strictly monogamous relationships, who have struggled to overcome such a challenging history. Choosing monogamy is not a fool-proof indicator of a healthy childhood! We often look at people who make different choices than we do and say, “Something is wrong with them.” But here’s the truth: Something is wrong with everybody! Everyone has baggage, history, and often pasts that we try our best not to talk about. The selection of mates by “monogamous” individuals is often rooted in troubled pasts and perspectives, also. What is the difference?

We seem to have an implicit system of values or a code of behavior code it comes to relationships. These invisible, unwritten standards exist to give people who appear to be “more moral” (or more normal) the authority to judge those who don’t measure up to these invisible standards. But what is the point? What are we really up to when we point these fingers?

Our desire for security, that yearning for a predictable, consistent life with a partner who never changes forever and ever, is a deep-seated longing, which seems to be a part of the human condition. People who operate outside of our comfortable standards threaten this security. This belief in the high value of security helps us to be comfortable judging someone else, someone else’s relationship, and proclaiming certain behaviors to be deviant and rooted in troubled history.

Rarely, do we reveal our actual motives for the condemnation of “those people” – security. Maybe we were perfectly comfortable or secure in a relationship until that moment when, all of a sudden, one of “those people” came into our life or community, and things were not as comfortable anymore. Maybe one of “those people” slept with our husband or wife or did something else that we were uncomfortable with. Or maybe the neighbor down the block has two wives or husbands, which rocks the peace and tranquility of the whole ‘hood. We can become pretty judgmental or harsh when our security gets threatened. It is only natural.

What is not natural, and requires work, is the ability to accept our discomfort as ours, no one else’s, and to develop in ourselves certain skills so that we can address these fears honestly. Some of these skills include:

  • Admitting our own self-interests (which may not account for other’s self-interests);
  • Practicing to become more comfortable with a new or different aspect of life; and/or
  • Communicating our discomfort to our partners and requesting a compromise.

Discomfort is a way that our psyche informs us that we are not prepared to deal with a situation. It is one of the most useful personal tools at our disposal. When we embrace our discomfort as our learning tool and not as a reason to change or judge someone else, we get to focus on our personal growth, which I think is one of our life purposes. Further, the issue has little or nothing to do with being fair or unfair. Some people become so uncomfortable with their discomfort that they become violent or begin smear campaigns about a perceived opposition or threat. The cycle of this way of functioning can be never ending; one reaction solicits a counter reaction, and there we have the primary cause of heart break and bloodshed in our world.

Instead of attempting to condemn one of “those people’s” decisions, why not say what is really going on. It certainly frees us to feel more comfortable with ourselves the next time we are looked down on by someone else whose security we threaten; and it is a more loving message to convey to your fellow man. So consider minimizing the use of the “judgment” weapon and, if possible, work to create a relationship with the perceived security opposition/threat. Both parties may be surprised at the new understandings gained. Reconciliation and understanding probably start with something as simple as saying, “I am uncomfortable with <whatever>.” That’s it and that’s all (kind of).

Keep Rising,

Frank Love

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Leave a Comment: Let Us Know Your Thoughts

How to Gracefully Exit a Relationship

16 Comments on “The Troubled Pasts of People That Do Things That We Don’t Like”

  1. Misti Burmeister Says:

    My favorite line: “Discomfort is a way that our psyche informs us that we are not prepared to deal with a situation.”

    Challenging our our thoughts/fears/judgments leads to self-awareness = so powerful!

    Thank you for sharing your gifts with the world, Frank!

    Yes, your thoughts are radical – AND so important to acknowledge…it’s so easy to stand in judgment … until, that is, someone stands in judgment of you.

    The message, as I hear it, life and let live…love and let love…


  2. Melissa Says:

    Great Post! It is quite amazing the level of judgment people place on “others” relationships and choices. What makes one relationship work or not shouldn’t be judged by ANYONE but the ones the relationship involves. I believe outside influences play a tremendous role in debates of this nature. I really love how practical your advice seems when reading it – then the thoughts of the TOES you step on of so many LOL! There is real power in KNOWING what works for you and yours!

  3. Diallo Says:

    Another good blog…Keep Rising Frank.”

  4. Diederik W. Says:

    Discomfort is a sign that i have some healing to do…. welcome discomfort, it is where i transform mistaken identities

  5. Safowah Says:

    Hi Frank,

    I think this is good advice when dealing with issues that challenge us in any way – not just around polygamy and relationships.

    I’d also like to offer that it may not always be the case that a person has a problem with another person, but may struggle with accepting something that the other person has presented.

    I would be interested in your take on the part of your friend’s vehement responses to people who “seek intimacy with people who already happen to be in relationship…” because I’m not clear if you touched on that.

    Take good care….

  6. Meridith Elliott Powell Says:

    “Discomfort is to be embraced.. it is letting me know to push a little harder I am about to grow!”

  7. Joseph Dressler Says:

    “Discomfort is my mind not being at ease – too many loose ends. Relax or tie them up!”

  8. Kitty Norris Says:

    and we are all dragging ancestral baggage!

  9. Leslee Says:

    Amen! Very nice post and all the comments are insightful!Looking forward to more dialogue.

  10. Kwesi Amoa Says:

    Great article! I think you hit the nail on the head. FEAR – False Evidence Appearing Real. We are always quick to judge others without understanding the reason for the situation. If Gays have the right to marry/union. I can not see why people fear polygamous relationships as well. What ever our discomfort, if you are comfortable with yourself, others discomfort has no baring on your being.

    Great Job! Mr. Love

  11. Helena Smith Says:

    That is an interesting statement. It’s even more so true with former convicts that are attempting to enter the job market.

  12. Sonia Says:

    Love it! Call it what it really is…MY discomfort…and release the judgement!

  13. Lighting Fixture Says:

    ;”- I am very thankful to this topic because it really gives useful information ,.”

  14. Alexander M. Says:

    I think we have an instinct for growth – when things start to get easy we look for more challenges, so we never have it really smooth…

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