It really sucks when you get the sense that someone is not prioritizing you in the way you are prioritizing them. It seems to be one of the most frequent problems in all types of relationships not just poly ones. Early on in a relationship, prioritization mismatches seem to loom much larger than later in relationships. I surmise this has a lot to do with lacking a history of connection with the corresponding sense of confidence that the waxing and waning of prioritization isn’t a lack of interest but a natural flow of our complex busy lives. My best relationships (friends or loves) have shared the characteristics of being able to connect deeply, on broader aspects of ourselves, over a sustained period of time. It is easy to miss remember that the mutuality of these connections evolved over time with a typically uneven frequency of connection.
- Can I count on you to be there for me when I need you?
- Can I trust that you will not leave me when the relationship deepens and becomes more complicated?
- Will you and your other partner(s) treat my feelings and interests as important?
- Can I trust that you will make me a priority when I need you?
- Will you be there for me when I’m upset?
- Will your other relationship(s) always come first?
- Can I trust you to keep our relationship agreements?
Why is “immediate” family structure so important? Well, the lines that define the family unit also typically define the borders of deep financial entanglement, procreation, primary sources of emotional support and child-rearing, etc. Or as sociologist James Henslin (Essentials of Sociology) states, the core functions of the family include “economic production, socialization of children, care of the sick and aged, recreation, sexual control and reproduction.” The nuclear family has been presumed ideal family structure in Western society during the modern era. However, signs of a growing need and willingness to experiment with different family structures are replete in contemporary society (from platonic life partners to a variety of polyamorous families). (more…)