A Theory of Polyamory, Part 1

  1. A person with more than one partner (I will call them the central partner) demonstrates inconsistency and lack of dependability to people who are attached to them, eventually causing management behaviors from invested partners that emerge as a stabilizing tactic. Management behaviors could be things like scheduling, planning, setting limits for other relationships etc.
  2. The central partner (usually selectively) defers to these emergent management behaviors, often rotating who they defer to and eventually causing relationship decisions to feel externalized by everyone.
  3. This may amplify the attachment system of invested partners, causing them to experience primal panic, and continually scramble to stabilize an attachment they believe would otherwise be solid without external influence.
  4. People who perceive that the locus of control in their relationship is being held by another person may become very hostile towards them, they may shut down or withdraw, or they may try to force intimacy with them (fight, flight, freeze, befriend).
  5. The central partner moves responsibility for bad behavior onto other partners, and there is a rotation of recognized good behavior at the group level.
  6. Partners will start to heavily police themselves, and may group together to police individual others.
  7. Internal self-policing and external social shaming may eventually lead people tied up in the relationship(s) to engage in self-destruction when they believe their very self has drifted out of bounds in a way that threatens attachment and/or social belonging.

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