During the last discussion group, we were delving into the concept of building compersion within relationship spheres, and one of the concepts that I connected with was that of the "bubble". The bubble is that zone that can form around a particular set of people (often a couple) within a relationship grouping that may feel excluding to the others that they are in relationship with.
Where I've seen this crop up in the past is usually when a partner is in NRE with a new connection, and they are nearly completely oblivious to anything and anyone in their vicinity. Alternately, it may include a territorial feel, where no one is quite certain where the boundaries lie between relationships, or what every one's tolerances are for regarding PDA's.
For some in the group, they just adored seeing their partners being so "cute" with others that this wasn't an issue. The bubble was a dose of welcome outside perspective. For others, me usually included, it can feel uncomfortable, exclusionary, and/or inconsiderate.
For those that were in the camp of cute, the idea of introducing themselves into the bubble of some one's dynamic seemed to feel intrusive or controlling, in the realm of interfering with their partner's other relationships. Perhaps this is another one of those points of difference between community/family style poly and free-agent poly? To be clear, I'm not talking about the idea of pushing in on private date or intimacy time, but rather how interactions go within shared time.
After some back and forth on perspectives, it finally hit me as to why I've felt discomfort with the bubble in the past: When I find that I alter my behavior (or am requested to do so) with a partner in an attempt to accommodate the sensibilities of a metamour, that hits my radar as not-a-good-thing. I'm very touch oriented, and not holding my partner's hand, snuggling, hugging, kissing etc. in front of someone that is also intimate with my partner feels like censorship. It doesn't build compersion, intimacy, or trust with me. It creates an "us versus them" environment.
Being affectionate with a partner isn't an exclusive thing for me. I don't mind when a metamour also touches, kisses our shared partner. It's compersion building for me to observe the happy, but I don't like being excluded from the happy. That feels compartmentalizing, and I'm big on integrating during shared time.
Fortunately, this isn't something that I am currently experiencing, so it's a great time to explore what's not worked well in the past, to be able to accurately communicate and advocate for my desires in regards to affection in community/family time in the future. The bubble isn't scary anymore, because I know that my partners are open to being inclusive, so there is no "pushing my way in" that needs to be done. As for the metamours, I can share my perspective and demonstrate what that looks like, and hope it works for them as well!