I think it's a combination of the two.
concepts like poly or extremely open communication and compromise are things other people can probably learn through practice, but it's probably a lot harder to FORCE yourself to be poly if you're really against it, and if you're the kind of person who hates discussing things you might always be stuck in silence. Both of you seem extremely open to new ideas, different styles of doing things, and have good delineations of instrumental vs terminal values.
This is harder to tell from the brief amount of interaction I've had from you but you also seem to require less of each other than many pairbonds. The fewer things or less time you outright demand from a partner the easier and less stressful a relationship is bound to be due to conflicting desires or the unfortunate intervention of reality. If you seriously feel the need to see your primary partner every day, and they don't feel this need or actively want alone time, this will end badly. If you BOTH want to see other every day, the relationship may still suffer as work or school or whatnot fights your other desires. Mutual lower requirements on the other hand seem like a recipe for stability.
sometimes people just happen to be really good at each other!
i don't think it necessarily means you're doing anything wrong. i certainly can't think of anything obvious you could be missing.
Honestly, I thought me and Andrew were like that.
Some people just don't have the type of personality that picks fights. The little fights, of the form "Why did you get light mayo when you know perfectly well I like regular?" I have never understood what makes people do that. I also have never understood picking a loud screamy fight over something like jealousy when you could just negotiate it instead.
But. Being the type of person who doesn't do petty squabbles doesn't protect you from the big relationship-ending stuff. "For reasons outside your present control, you are unable to provide this thing I really want, and I can't/won't hack myself to stop wanting it." Something like that can fly under the radar for a long time, because you get along SO WELL and you're SO IN LOVE, and it takes a while to notice, "Oh, yeah, there is this thing I want, and you're never going to be able to give it to me, and my frustrated desire to have it is going to take over everything like a strangler fig."
I really hope something like that doesn't happen to you guys.
But I don't think it will, because you (Alicorn) are probably the best person I know at knowing what you want and saying it. And Mike's pretty good himself (and you can prod him in that direction.)
I'm good at knowing what I want and saying it in exactly the way that would normally cause me to have ridiculous fights about mayonnaise. But Mike does not react in a fightish way to such things. He says "oops" and we determine how important it is to have correct mayonnaise anytime soon and if it's important that it be soon he goes and gets the right kind. So that's good, because I don't have to quietly rearrange my wants to keep the peace.
I'm pretty sure he checks all the boxes that have to be checked under "primary". Actually, before we even started dating the first time, I fell for him abruptly and was freaking out internally about how I was not supposed to do that, and I methodically made sure he checked all the known boxes under "sole lifetime partner" before I let myself do anything about it. He's a higher priority than anything I know him to conflict with, so I can hack it, I think, although I do consider your cautionary tale and that's part of why I'm so nervous about this.
Is Mike quietly rearranging his wants to keep the peace? It doesn't seem like he is, but if there's a problem anywhere I'd expect it to be there.
Sarah, I was about to write the same comment.
It seems to work really well if you have people with the mutual ability to prioritize each other, shared external priorities, and the awareness of how much taking care of oneself is necessary for the others' well-being.
This is from external observation, as I'm in the same basic position you are--no trouble with *our* scrambled eggs, and much speculation over the years as to whether others are using powdered egg product, confusing a waffle iron with a frying pan, or what.
On top of the normal compatibility stuff most people try for, you two seem to have the extra advantages of
• practice with luminosity (http://lesswrong.com/lw/1xh/living_luminously/) and knowing your own goals, and
• practice with the Principle of Optimism (http://dudley-doright.livejournal.com/235030.html) to keep disagreements focused on those goals.
I think you may also have a different definition of what counts as "a lot of hard work" from most people, it sounds like your baseline is communicating and taking account of one another's feelings, for many people that in itself counts as a lot of work and if they have to put in any effort or make any compromises thee is a 'problem'.
2013-02-13 10:57 pm (UTC)
Is possible one of you is systematically repressing (or being repressed on) whatever disagreements he/she has. This can happen quite a lot when there's a huge difference in the perceived status of each partner, and the lower ranking one tend to agree all the time. Or maybe he/she have some type of very represses personality, that will eventually blow with fire and wrath in a few years.
Even if there isn't a problem, I would necessarily jump to the conclusion you are being able to deal better with conflicts. You just might have very low levels of aggression, and tend to talk with raising your voice and so on.. but it doesn't necessarily means higher levels of satisfaction. I gather there's a strong cultural factor here also, what might be perceived as a fight and experienced with high levels of stress by a Scandinavian might be just a regular conversation to a Italian. On a personal note, honestly, if my girlfriend weren't able to be angry and yield at me from time to time, I would find her boring, cold and would lose much of my respect for her - as I would think she lose the guts to stand for whatever she thinks is wrong in the relationship.