No Tit for Tatty

It’s easy to get panties in a bunch when we are titting-for-tatting or feeling we aren’t getting the whole story.  It’s easy to create a rivalry that doesn’t exist if we make it seem like the unfair or unpleasant things come from someone else.  People start to feel like “hey, wait a minute”.. and our brains work to create problems that don’t exist because we humans are good at finding explanations for our feelings.

Old hats in a black and white pic hang on a hat stand from https://k0nsl.org/blog/k1/uploads/2013/08/tit_for_tat_k0nsl.jpg

Old hats in a black and white pic hang on a hat stand from https://k0nsl.org

For example: If you tell me that you are going out with someone and you are excited and like this and that and expect this to happen, and you go and have a good time and roughly the things you said would happen happen, I feel safe and included and informed and like I’m on the inside.  I am informed and feel no need to guess or create explanations for my feelings of uncertainty.  I know the facts.  I’m good.

If however, you try to spare my feelings by saying you’re going out with this person but you don’t know really if you feel like it and this person isn’t really all that appealing and nothing is gonna happen, and then you go out and things happen and you clearly are pretty nuts about them, I get scared.  You’re managing me.  You’re trying to downplay what you are feeling or what you want and it doesn’t match what you are telling me.  This makes me feel I can’t trust you and I am on the outside.  I feel scared and not included.  My brain works to explain the gap between what I am being told and what I am observing.  I feel unsafe.

Soooo many times when I communicate poorly I do this. 

And if I am playing tit for tat and using my scales I can become upset.. over nothing.  Because the truth is it’s always about where you slice it or what angle you view it from, and there IS NO WAY to slice fairly in the real world.  Take the following example:

Sunday- Amy wakes up at 9am and spends the day at home with Chuck until she has a date with Joe at 630pm.  Amy and Joe make dinner and talk and have fun and go to bed at 10pm.

Monday- Amy works till 6pm.  She makes movie snacks with Chuck until 830 and goes to a movie party with Chuck and Joe until 1030.  Amy and Joe go Joe’s and sleep by 1130.

Tuesday- Amy leaves Joe’s and works until 8pm.  She spends the evening exhausted at home with Chuck, eats, watches TV and is asleep by 10pm.

Wednesday- Amy goes to work as usual and is home by 6pm.  She and Chuck make a nice dinner and snuggle and play a board game.  They are asleep by 10pm.

Thursday- Amy goes to work and meets Joe at 530pm and they hang out with a friend until 830 or so and then go to the driving range.  They come home and are asleep by 1130pm.

Friday- Amy goes to work as usual and is home by 4pm.  Amy and Chuck cook a nice meal together and play another of their favorite board games and snuggle and talk and have a good time.  They are both asleep by 1030pm.

Saturday- Amy and Chuck make a nice breakfast.  She then spends the morning on the coach with Chuck, mostly shopping online.  In the early afternoon Amy and Chuck do a little yard work and hang out on the porch, enjoying their labors.  At 630pm Joe goes to Amy’s and they make dinner together and spend the evening playing an online game with friends, including Chuck.  Everyone has fun.  They are done with their game at midnight and are asleep by 1 or so.

Sunday- Amy and Joe wake up and have a quick breakfast and Amy takes off to spend a few hours with Chuck doing an errand and then goes to an event with Joe for 2 hours.  Amy returns home by 430 and spends the night with Chuck, asleep by 10pm.

antique cast iron lab scale found at: http://ancientpoint.com/imgs/a/h/c/a/h/antique_cast_iron_fairbanks_knott_boston_porcelain_platform_laboratory_scale_1_thumb2_lgw.jpg

antique cast iron lab scale found at: http://ancientpoint.com

-Chuck thinks it’s unfair Joe wanted Amy to go to an event on Sunday.  He had planned things with Amy for Sunday.  He thinks Joe already had four nights with Amy and shouldn’t need any Sunday.  Chuck thinks it is unfair of Joe to have Sunday night, Monday night, Thursday night, Saturday night AND time on Sunday.  He asked Amy to keep THEIR plans for Sunday.

-Joe thinks it is unfair to not get any weekend day time.  He thinks it is unfair for Chuck to have most of Monday, all of Tuesday and Wednesday, all of Friday, half of Saturday AND ALL of Sunday.  Joe thinks Chuck had four nights and is demanding all of the weekend day time too.  Joe feels he should get some of Amy’s time to do THEIR plans for Sunday daytime since Amy will be with Chuck Sunday night.  Joe asked Amy to keep THEIR plans for Sunday.

So.. if we are playing tit for tat.. where do you slice the time?

  1. Should you include both Sundays and say Joe had four nights this week?  Or do you count Sunday to Satuday and each Sunday is a new week?
  2. Does it matter that Amy spent the 1st Sunday with Chuck until 6pm, or does it still count as Joe’s because Amy spent the night at Joe’s?  Should you count just weekend days or just nights, or both?
  3. Should you count the nights Amy was with Chuck at home exhausted as Chuck’s?
  4. What about the time she spent shopping online on Saturday?  She wasn’t really WITH Chuck even if they shared a couch.
  5. Does Saturday count as Chucks if Amy was with Chuck all day?  Or would you count Saturday as Joe’s because Amy spend the night with Joe?  Would you say they split the day because they both got time?
  6. How do you allot Friday night, Saturday day, Saturday night, Sunday day and Sunday night?  Does that even matter?  Are weekends more special?
  7. What about Monday where Amy spent a couple of hours with Chuck before the movie party and then both Chuck and Joe at the party and then an hour with Joe after the party and before bed?  Does it count as Chucks?  Joe’s?  Is it a day they shared?  If they all enjoy time together, do you count that as one or the other?

This shit can get stupidly complicated.  If you slice the calendar so carefully that everyone gets an equal number of hours, what about the quality?  Amy has to do laundry and relax and have time to herself sometimes.  Let’s say you magically split the calendar perfectly.  The relationships are not identical (because they involve unique humans).  And what if a week gets messed up?  What if Amy wanted to spend time with friends or walk on the beach alone?  What if she wanted to get her nails done with her sister or she had the flu?

It will NEVER be perfectly fair in the real world, and is that even a good thing to shoot for? Does it actually make sense to sit around with a calendar tallying all the minutes just so?  Would you really want to live like that?  And how would you really make it fair?  If they are comparing it’s always going to seem to Chuck that Joe has better time and always going to seem to Joe like Chuck wins all the time.  It depends on how you slice it and where you are standing how things look.  Chuck will despair because he is looking just at the number of nights where Amy slept where.  Joe will despair because he is looking at the overall time.  Chuck will be upset because he counts both Sundays and Joe will be upset because he wants a fair share of weekend time.  This is what our minds do when we compare.  They despair.

black and white measures and cups found at:https://img0.etsystatic.com/037/1/6668580/il_340x270.583706464_39nc.jpg

black and white measures and cups found at:https://img0.etsystatic.com

Our minds want to find reasons for the way we feel and since it is impossible (and undesirable) to make everything “fair”, maybe the goal is to find ways to better work together.  Maybe it makes more sense to communicate well and to make everyone feel included and informed and worthy of a say.  And maybe Chuck and Joe could chill the fuck out.  Maybe both Chuck and Joe could think about the big picture -that they love Amy and Amy loves them.  Maybe a better goal is trying to find a way that works to meet the needs of all the people in the relationships, and not so much about what is “fair”.

This seems like it just might work to keep panties un-bunched.  And yes, duh, of course I admit these situations are things that Traveler and Quinky and I navigate.  Every couple and every family someday must allocate time and resources.  Neither Quinky Girl or I are huge fans of trying to meter out minutes, of course, but I made this post NOT about us and over-simplified it to point out some real concepts.  Feeling like you get enough time for your relationship is just simply a poly thing.  Navigating how to use resources is a thing.  Having feelings about time or attention or the way plans are made or presented is a thing.

I don’t really have huge suggestions, except maybe this.  Tit for Tat is a losing game.  We might not always love it, and we might wanna do some thinking and processing and figuring stuff out first, but “communicate communicate communicate” is still a pretty good concept for some things.  How do you do all this time management and resource management and help find the best ways to make all the partners in a complex family system feel loved?  You tell the truth.  You are transparent.  You try to be flexible and try to think of the happiness of EVERYONE involved and don’t take it all personally.  Beyond that?   I don’t know yet.  I’m still figuring this out.  Hell, I’m still learning these ideas, but I’ll keep you posted to what I find.

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