Abuse Isn’t the Only Wrong Way to do Polyamory

Recently someone commented that by saying something wasn’t abusive, I made it sound like that behavior was automatically healthy and/or okay. I did not in anyway intend to give the impression that anything that isn’t abusive is healthy, and I am sorry that I wasn’t clearer.

Let’s be blunt: abuse gets a lot of focus as a type of unhealthy relationship, however, abuse is far from the only unhealthy relationship. From co-dependence to neglect, there are dozens of non-abusive ways for a relationship to be unhealthy.

Abuse, in my opinion, is the most dangerous form of unhealthy relationship. I don’t know of any other unhealthy relationship dynamic that causes so much long term damage. But saying that something is non-abusive, therefore it is healthy, is like saying the patient doesn’t have cancer, therefore they aren’t dying. Doesn’t fucking work like that.

“Non-abusive” is the lowest bar a relationship can meet. Something you or your partner does can be harmful or unhealthy without being abusive. Consider this extreme scenario—someone who is not an abuser can hit you or beat you up. It may not be abuse—but it damn well is assault. A partner who is not abusive can still be selfish, disrespectful, insulting, and a number of other things.

This blog series is focusing on abuse as a specific type of unhealthy relationship that does not get enough discussion in polyamory. That does not in anyway mean you have a pass to treat your partners like shit as long as you aren’t abusive.

Seriously, if the best thing you can say about a relationship is that it is non-abusive, then you might want to rethink if it is a good relationship.

This post is part of the Abuse in Polyamory blog series. It is related to Polyamory and Mental Illness.

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