Clear Communication

While preparing a dog dinner Saturday night, I asked SwingBot, “What do non-monogamy and owning dogs have in common?”

Without hesitation, he replied, “You run into a lot of bitches.”

After a zinger like that, my serious thoughts felt like a real letdown.

However, to be serious, I have been thinking a lot about communication lately. Good communication really is key in relationships.

In non-monogamy, whether through some form of polyamory, swinging, or a hybrid, addressing each partner’s wants, needs, and expectations is crucial for the health of the relationships. Each partner needs to be able to say, “I feel this,” and, “I need that.” While not everyone is going to have every want or need fulfilled every time — which would be impossible — the channels of communication must be open.

Dogs cannot speak Human and humans cannot speak Dog. Even the best dog trainers still make educated guesses about what dogs say. History, research, and observation can give useful insights, but people still ultimately must guess. Some canine requests are very obvious; the dog scratching at the door and whining probably wants to go outside. Some may be less obvious, particularly to the layperson, like the dog who wags his tail while in a stressful situation; not all wagging tails indicate joy.

Likewise, a human cannot explain complicated concepts, like moving or that rough play is okay with this person and not with that person. Instead, to clearly communicate human wants to a dog, the human must determine each step required to elicit a desired behavior. A human cannot tell a dog, “I want you to put your toys away.” Instead, the human must train the dog a simple command (or multiple simple commands) to go to some particular toy, get that toy, and put it in a designated spot… and then repeat that same instruction for each dog toy. With extremely advanced training (that the average dog owner is highly unlikely to bother doing), a dog might eventually be able to learn one command or one series of commands to perform an entire toy clean up… but that takes extremely advanced training on the human’s part, and is all based on small, individual steps.

The need to communicate everything in non-monogamy and to break down each desired act into simple and clear instruction for dogs really make good communication training for all relationships… with pets, romantic partners, sex partners, BDSM partners, friends, coworkers, clients, customers…

Even in traditional relationships that follow societal norms, it is unfair to assume that the others involved can read one’s mind or just follow societal guidelines. After all, if we are all unique individuals, then our thoughts, desires, and expectations ought to vary, too. Instead, we need to consider what we want, what simple steps are required to get there, and convey those desires and the action plan.

One of my desires is that I quit posting such long and “thoughtful” discussions and opt for more fun posts instead. I just need to figure out the simple steps required to get there. Any suggestions?