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-   -   Is Open a subset of poly? Or something different? (http://www.polyamory.com/forum/showthread.php?t=14144)

wannabe 09-03-2011 08:37 AM

Is Open a subset of poly? Or something different?
 
When I think of defining an open relationship, I think of a primary couple who have decided that sexual fidelity is not important to them.

In this case open ~= monogamish

Theory question really, but is open a variant on poly or a completely different class of relationship?

Magdlyn 09-03-2011 10:11 AM

Being "open," or non-mono, is the larger heading. Polyamory is a subset of non-monogamy.

Other categories under the non-mono heading are "don't ask, don't tell" relationships, and swinging. In ancient times (and today in neo-pagan groups), married couples could also take part in a non-mono experience when worshiping a god or goddess in a temple with a "holy one" (priest or priestess representative of certain gods or goddesses), or in orgies at Beltane and other holy days.

trueRiver 09-03-2011 10:32 AM

poly + open overlap, neither is a subset
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by wannabe (Post 100430)
...
Theory question really, but is open a variant on poly or a completely different class of relationship?

Poly can be a different class of relationship, for those who do not start from being a couple.

Open relationships tend to mean that a couple decide to allow extra partners beyond the traditional idea of exclusivity.

The things that define polyamory, for me, are

1. Honesty: every partner knows who else you are being sexual/romantic with

2. Integrity: if you make committments to your partners, you keep them. (This could include, for example, the quite common committent about safe sex: I will have safe sex except when I am with certain named people -- google 'fluid boundary' about this)

3. All sexual relationships contain an element of love. For me, relationships where partners are free to have non-loving partners are swinging. Relationships where partners are free to do either are poly/swinging.

I currently consider 1 and 2 above to be the aspects of poly that make it ethical, whereas 3 is more a personal preference. So I have moral issues with 'cheating', but not with 'swinging', even though I would not personally do either.

The things that define 'open' for me are that a partner is free to have sex with other people, outside the defined relationship.

So a triad, where all three people have loving sex with the other two, but have no sex or romantic attachments outside the triad, would be poly but not open. So I disagree with M, who says above [not quoted] that poly is a subset of open.

A relationship where two people had a long term loving relationship and they also had casual sex outside the couple, would be open but not poly.

It often looks like poly is a subset of open, as in our culture it tends to start from opening up a couple: in practice M is often right. But in theory, as per your question, there is no need to start from there.

My preference is for poly relationships, as per the above definitions. I would like to make it clear I am not putting a moral case here; I am stating my own preference, and no more than that.

Magdlyn 09-03-2011 10:42 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by trueRiver (Post 100434)



The things that define 'open' for me are that a partner is free to have sex with other people, outside the defined relationship.

So a triad, where all three people have loving sex with the other two, but have no sex or romantic attachments outside the triad, would be poly but not open. So I disagree with M, who says above [not quoted] that poly is a subset of open.

Point taken. A poly-fi triad or quad would be non-monogamous, but closed. I meant to put poly-fi under the non-mono heading, not the open heading.

nycindie 09-03-2011 11:33 AM

I see it this way:

There are monogamy and non-monogamy. Under the non-mono umbrella there are several categories, which include cheating, swinging, open, and polyamory.

We all know what cheating is: the one non-ethical, dishonest form of non-monogamy.

The rest are all consensual forms of non-monogamy. Swinging is about couple-centric recreational sex activities. Though you can be single and participate in swinging, it seems to be focused mostly on couples having their fun.

Being open, to me, is about being open to casual sex, one night stands, group sex, etc. I don't think one has to be in a committed relationship to be open; if you are, then it's an open relationship or an open marriage, but if you're single or solo, you're just open. I think people who are in long-term committed relationships who say they've "opened it up" (VERB) don't always mean that they are open in the sense of being okay with casual sexual liaisons. I think most of them just mean they've opened it up to additional people, whether that means being open, poly, swinging, or what have you. But a couple saying they're open (ADJECTIVE) or in an open marriage generally seem to mean they allow for casual sex with others, but not relationships where there is emotional involvement.

And polyamory is about cultivating multiple, caring, loving relationships and does not focus on sex, or sexual activities to define this category, like the others do. Poly's focus for me is love and full disclosure. One can be poly AND any of these others, as well, or none of them, but they all come under the heading of non-monogamy.

I see polygamy and polyfidelity as approaches to polyamory.

MichelleZed 09-03-2011 02:30 PM

This is a really helpful thread to me and I am enjoying reading everyone's responses. Since coming here, I have been thinking about these labels and where I fit in.

We opened up our relationship for casual sex with other partners. No real rules except to use condoms. Husband is content with a very occasional one-night stand, but I quickly began having the casual sex with one specific piece on the side.

The arrangement with that man is still ongoing, and we have developed affection and what is, I hope, a good friendship (and not based purely on the sex). But, really, all we are to each other right now is casual sex partners. There's no saying casual sex can't be friendly. He's not, you know, my boyfriend or anything.

So I think I'm still in an open, non-poly marriage. But who knows? Maybe I should say I'm poly-ish.

River 09-03-2011 02:33 PM

I think Nycindie's description is perfect.

River 09-03-2011 02:46 PM

I'm one of those poly folks for whom casual sex has very, very, very little attraction. On a scale of one to ten, I think my interest in casual sex is a -2 (minus two). However, although I despise relationship ranking systems (e.g., "primary, secondary, tertiary), I'm quite curious about the possibility of forming loving relationship which includes sexual intimacy while being in some respects less involving than it is with others. I think I can do this without ranking simply by not using a ranking system, and just by allowing things to unfold naturally and honestly.

For me, when there is sexual / physical intimacy, my heart is always involved. And I'm glad for this and think this is as it should be. - - - I'm still in the "figuring it out" phase of exploration about how my needs and commitments are shaped. I feel as though I can have two, ... at max three full on partners. Two seems plenty! But I might like to share deep intimacy (with sexual possibilities) outside of my full-on partner arrangement/s. And I want to have this freedom without having to rank people -- which I can do simply by not ranking them. (And, of course, I'd only engage in these other relations when it was safe and good and healthy for me AND my partner/s.)

wannabe 09-04-2011 06:43 AM

Great thread everyone!
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Magdlyn (Post 100435)
Point taken. A poly-fi triad or quad would be non-monogamous, but closed. I meant to put poly-fi under the non-mono heading, not the open heading.

This may sound a little pedantic, but I'm a mathematician so defining stuff helps me....wouldn't a closed poly-fi quad need to have been 'open' on some level to allow it to get to 4 people?

This would suggest that open, closed, mono, non-mono, poly are temporary states of a relationship not a definition?

Or are we saying that poly is defined as a relationship that adheres to certain properties and relationship states may or may not be poly depending if they fit the criteria?

As a practical example, I would define MichelleZed as poly because she appears to have a long term 'secondary' relationship. But at one point she could have been defined as simply open.

At what point does one cross the line into poly given that many of our important relationships can start out pretty causal?

nycindie 09-04-2011 07:15 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by wannabe (Post 100559)
. . . wouldn't a closed poly-fi quad need to have been 'open' on some level to allow it to get to 4 people?

This would suggest that open, closed, mono, non-mono, poly are temporary states of a relationship not a definition?

Sure, there are stages of relationships and it makes sense that a quad or triad would have been opened up in some way before being closed. I see Open as another form of non-monogamy which incorporates casual sex. I see being closed or polyfidelitous as an approach to being poly. As I see it, if polyamory is a structure for multi-partner relationships that includes love and deeper emotional involvement, then polyfidelity is just an agreement on how to go about having that structure and living polyamorously. Yeah, you can have stages that included casual sex or welcomed the possibility of adding more partners, before committing to polyfidelity (faithfulness to/among the group).


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