Dating is so fucking complicated sometimes. Poly dating makes "complicated" look like grade school material. Just when you think you've got a grip on the needs and boundaries of your partners, something changes. Someone wants more time, or more affection, or better communication. Sometimes a metamour (a partner of a partner) wants more from one of my partners, which affects the dynamic that we've built. Sometimes work affects things in ways I can't predict.
I usually go with the flow in relationships, especially if I'm extremely emotionally invested in them. Since I try to keep everyone happy, I end up putting up with a lot of bullshit... but there is always a point where the amount of drama a partner drops on me outweighs the happiness I experience when we're together. At that point, one of two things will happen: I'll either walk away, or I'll stand my ground and reset my own boundaries. This is usually not an easy or pleasant process.
I've had to make this choice in both of my poly relationships recently. In one, repeated cancellations and unclear motives were becoming more the norm than the exception. I could not count on this partner to keep a date, often he would cancel with mere hours notice. I wasn't sure if he was playing games, or simply couldn't commit to seeing me. Things got to the point where I was feeling a bit like a ball being batted around.
I chose to stand my ground. I called him out for making me feel dispensable, unloved, unimportant. I was not asking him to put me before anyone else, I am fully aware of my place in his world. But I did need him to show me that I was important to him. Repeatedly canceling on me was not acceptable. After a lot of open, honest dialogue and a lot of tears on my part (in private - I don't use crying to get what I want) he agreed that his actions were unfair and inconsiderate. I agreed that I had been foolish to wait so long to tell him how I was feeling. Going forward, there will be no dates on the calendar that cannot 100% be kept. His explanation, that he was trying to see me as often as possible because he was so excited about our relationship, touched my heart. I could understand that, and he understood that I was trying not to disappoint him by being overly needy or clingy. I trust him with my heart, and I know that standing my ground was the right choice.
In my other relationship, things are not so clear. This partner's spouse is constantly changing the rules of the game. Double standards, inconsistencies, and never-ending drama seem to be the norm. We'll go several days with nothing but peaceful bliss, then WHAM! I'll get dragged into some ridiculous drama and be unsure of where the boundaries are.
The rules keep changing. The game never ends. I never know what will or won't be okay. I've tried keeping my distance, I've tried being friendly. There doesn't seem to be an answer. Things that are allowed in her poly relationships are strictly NOT allowed between this partner and I.
I don't think I am threatening. I do not wish to take her place, I frequently offer to give up my date nights with him so that she feels more comfortable. Nothing helps. Every time I turn around she is pulling me into some imagined drama where I'm causing her to lose her husband.
I haven't decided what to do. Walking away will shatter me. I am deeply, willingly, unequivocally in love with this man. Standing my ground might be doubly painful, because it will mean forcing my partner to make some very hard choices, and the end result could be the same.
Either way, my heart is on the table...