BAN Guidelines - for Sharing and Participation

(These BAN Guidelines have been the same for the past 20 years,
Excerpted from "Beyond Affairs" and "The Monogamy Myth.")

1. Be honest in your sharing. Avoid any tendency to "put up a good front." Don't compete by trying to sound better or worse off than someone else. Remember... you're all in this together and you don't have to impress anybody.
2. Support each other in feeling good about yourselves and your ability to cope with the situation. Self-confidence is vital in getting beyond the pain. This means not getting bogged down in " blaming" and griping about "how awful it is." Acknowledging these feelings may be necessary and useful, but going over and over them doesn't change anything-and may do you harm. It can keep you feeling sorry for yourself, and this just makes it harder to develop your sense of self-worth.
3. Really listen to the other people. You're there to support each other. That can't happen if you're only thinking about yourself.
4. Don't debate differences of opinion. Being supportive means avoiding "approving" or "disapproving." There's no need to be in agreement. Support comes from understanding and accepting-not from judging.
5. Avoid "leading" questions or "helpful" advice, such as:
--"Why don't you...?"
--"Did you try...?"
--"I think you should..."
--"If it were me, I'd..."
6. Ask clarifying questions to help others think things through for themselves, such as:
--"How long have you felt this way?"
--"Have you discussed this with anyone else?"
--"What have you tried?"
--"What are your alternatives?"
7. Talk about your feelings. That's more important than the details of your experience.
8. If you feel angry-admit it. You can't overcome it as long as you hide or deny it. This doesn't mean you have to act on it. Just openly acknowledging your anger is the first step toward loosening its power.
9. If you feel guilty-say so. You may be holding secret fears that somehow it's all your fault. Again, you need to acknowledge the feelings before you can deal with them. There are many burdens of guilt you may have put on yourself that you need to get rid of. You could feel:
--guilty that you failed to have the "ideal" relationship.
--guilty that you're leaving your partner.
--guilty that you're not leaving your partner.
--guilty that you feel angry or vindictive.
10. Freely respond to others when they express feelings that you understand or can identify with. This may not seem very important, but it can be critical in giving them the strength they need and letting them see they're not alone. You can offer comments, such as:
--"I know how you feel."
--"I've had that experience too."
--"That's one of my concerns...or fears...or uncertainties."
11. Remember that no one else can decide how you should feel or what you should do. They can provide support for you to figure things out for yourself.

(End of excerpt from Beyond Affairs and The Monogamy Myth)

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