I recently wrote a piece called, “How I Practice Good Poly”, which you can see on my blog and on Fetlife. In it, I give a broad overview of some of the strategies and techniques I employ in all of my relationships. One of the ways I practice good relationship is by choosing the Path of Kindness.
This is a phrase I’ve been using to characterize how I make decisions when there are other hearts involved, and it’s been very successful for me for the last couple of decades, since I’ve been using it. Loving Kindness is the hallmark of the practice of Compassion, which is a perspective that takes into account the suffering of others. One way to think of compassion is the way in which you might approach a wounded animal. The animal might lash out as a result of the wound, but because you know it’s hurt, you are gentle and kind. Or have you ever been around someone who is sick, and they are crabby and curt? You know that their behavior is influenced by the sick, so you meet them with kindness (I hope).
The Path of Kindness, for me, has to do with shifting from an attached perspective towards a detached perspective, and someone commented on Fetlife that the shift has something to do with compromise. I don’t see it as compromise. Compromise has to do with concessions – with giving something up. Loving Kindness, when practiced mindfully, is a way of reaching great gains – of actually getting MORE… you just have to know how to look.
See, the thing of it is, when I (and you) are attached to something (time, location, how the night is going to go), there are expectations, and the problem with expectations is that they often lead to disappointment. If one is able to let go of expectations – to be with what is – and to respond compassionately, then anything is possible, and all one receives, in my experience, is gifts.
Do I sometimes feel sad that I don’t get to see someone with whom I’m in Relationship as often as I want? Of course. In the not-seeing, am I open to receiving other gifts in the form of new friends, hobbies, work opportunities, time in contemplation? You bet your sweet ass I do.
The way I practice walking the Path of Kindness is very simple. I first adopt an attitude of mindfulness, which means I pay attention to the situation without judgment – think of this as “being a scientific observer”. This alone requires practice, and meditation is a great way to cultivate it. From the mindful attitude, I ask my self “what action can I take (or not) that will move me forward in loving kindness”. In poly contexts, that may look like including other partners in parts of plans. In work contexts, it may look like not joining in office gossip.
See, there isn’t a compromise in this. If I know it isn’t a kindness, and I have a choice in the action, I simply don’t do it. What I gain from that – always and in all ways – is stronger integrity and greater opportunities. It just takes a little faith.