Three Basics for Multiple Partner Relationships

I have come to the notion that there’s a lot to be said for gratitude and for apologies and for kindness when it comes to multiple partner relationships.

If it helps any, awesome. If it doesn’t, also awesome.


I think it’s important to express it where it is sincere. Some folks appreciate it more than others. Understanding how to express it as needed/preferred is a skill. It’s a good skill to learn, and it is different for lots of people. While I’m not a leg-humper of “love languages,” nevertheless I respect that people communicate in different ways, and it’s rarely difficult to adapt to that person. If Joe likes being thanked verbally, then it’s easy to thank Joe by saying “Hey, thanks.” And it can be specific, too — that seems better to me.

How this relates to multiple partner relationships

Humans live constantly in contact with each other and when we look for and understand and acknowledge what each brings to our lives, it feels like a better thing in general. It helps each of us feel like we are a real person. Multiple partner relationships are even more complicated in that these relationships are more intimate and thrive from more care.


An apology can likewise take many forms, but sincerity counts. In my life, what I have learned is that an apology should address the thing I did wrong, and an understanding of the results of it. It doesn’t mean I won’t do it again (Not through lack of insincerity, but because I generally do things for one or more reasons and they are sometimes ingrained behavior. This means it might take a few iterations to learn the new behavior.), but I will try. Apologies that are just blanket capitulating belly-exposures rarely do any good. And as far as misunderstandings and arguments and issues-that-develop-over-time, in most cases, I tend toward thinking “it takes two to tango” and that the goal of an apology is to reach a place where everyone involved feels mutually satisfied, including an understanding of everyone’s contribution. This can be tricky, of course, because sometimes it’s easier to say “Well, I didn’t do anything, so fuck off.”

A thing I’ve been trying the past couple of years regarding apologies has been to ask for feedback. I know, it might seem silly, but damn, being able to ask “Did I address your needs” is an amazing thing because it allows me to be wrong, but also allows me to correct myself for the future. Because I want a future.

How this relates to multiple partner relationships

Humans bump into each other all the time and those bumps might be alleviated by a simple “Oh, whoops — sorry!” as we pass through a crowded entrance at Target, to a complex discussion that might take place across several sessions with four other loved ones. Misunderstandings can multiply, and when we’re able to own our piece of a misunderstanding, or an issue, it helps us own a piece of the solution as well. When these misunderstandings combine multiple people, who are in one way or another intimate/vulnerable with each other, the potential for unpleasant results is high, but the potential for very satisfying results is even higher.


It’s been said that we’re the heroes of our own stories, and sure, that’s great. Be your hero. But I have learned that everyone else is the hero in their story as well, and not always a super hero, but sometimes the hero who needs or wants a bit of help. Sometimes a hero who enjoys having a sidekick. Kindness allows us to see ourselves as not-the-hero once in a while, as a buddy who is just there to help another hero out. Kindness allows us to take time out of OUR struggle to recognize someone else’s struggle and help them be a hero, too. Being kind is not a thing that indicates weakness. It indicates strength.

To paraphrase a thing Michelle MacNamara said to her husband (and if you know what I’m talking about without having to look this up, I am very happy for you, but if you have to look it up, that is also okay and I am still happy for you for perservering), “It’s all chaos. Be kind.” In a vast Universe and a planet filled with billions of people and all kinds of unpredictability all over the place, the only thing that a human being can do that makes any sort of personal sense in the world is to reach out to another human being and to be kind.

How this relates to multiple partner relationships

Again, with multiple partner relationships, we combine proximity of people with intimacy and vulnerability. The willingness to be kind, to be supportive of each person’s own struggles, in my opinion, is what makes a relationship so very much stronger.