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-   -   Is polyamory a sexual identity, just like being queer? (http://www.polyamory.com/forum/showthread.php?t=21393)

trescool 02-14-2012 08:56 PM

Is polyamory a sexual identity, just like being queer?
 
I was just curious how people feel about this.

Do you feel like being polyamorous is a sexual IDENTITY for you? Do you feel like, beyond being a lifestyle choice that you want, that polyamory is in fact, something you deeply NEED to feel spiritually, emotionally, and sexually fulfilled?

For me, I find it is a lifestyle choice. For me personally, being bisexual and being strongly attracted to woman is NOT a choice, it is deeply inherent to my being. But polyamory makes so much SENSE to me-- the support and reliability of multiple people in raising a family, I choose it because I believe it is a healthier mode of raising a family and supporting people than the current monogamous family structure.

However, I know that other people feel differently. So I wanted to ask... how do you feel? Is polyamory a "choice" for you? Or is it a deep in-born desire which must be fulfilled, similar to being gay?

And secondly, is it an identity for you?

redpepper 02-14-2012 09:32 PM

Thanks for starting this thread. I came to this theory for myself about six months ago and have been expressing it on here since then. It seems to resonated for most poly people and it seems to explain why there are personal descriptions of poly for those engaged in it.

There seems to be a couple of different categories of poly.
  • Identifying as poly since birth. Monogamy is not an option and this will always be. At some point there might be a shift in focus and monogamy is what is practices as lifestyle choice, but the person still considers themselves poly.
  • Choosing poly as a way of swinging/being "open" with their spouse or out on their own or as a way to date many people and stay open and honest in their communication about who they are sleeping with and spending time with. Poly is a lifestyle choice that has comfortable values of honesty and consent until "the one" comes along. Can sometimes be linked to filling bisexual needs while keeping a primary partner.
Please feel free to add to this list. Its in no way meant to be exclusive.

For me? I am the first on this list. Cheated, had many short and long term relationships, identified as a lesbian for years, tried it all out and nothing seemed to fit until I identified as pansexual and polyamorous. Ahhhh, its all good now. :p

I think at some point I can see myself taking a monogamous lifestyle or at least a primary relationship as I get older and less able to concentrate, balance, encompass and "take care of" three to four relationships. I am not sure how I will manage more than one and I will likely be fine directing my energy to other areas of life at that time and live monogamously. Who knows; no one can predict the future. ;)

nycindie 02-14-2012 09:40 PM

Nope, not an identity for me. Who I am is not determined by how many relationships I have. It seems odd to me to call a relationship structure a "sexual identity," especially since polyamory is about relationships and not just sex. I said this in another thread:
Quote:

Originally Posted by nycindie (Post 101924)
I am extremely doubtful and skeptical about the notion that our brains are "wired" to be either poly or mono. I see the ability to love multiple people as a natural option for any human being, but that many factors come into play as to whether it feels right to someone to engage in polyamory, and those are mostly cultural conditioning, personal preferences, and a leaning or willingness to step out of accepted conventions... Therefore, I choose to live polyamorously, I choose to embrace polyamory, but I am not "wired" poly -- hence I don't ID as poly.

To me, poly is simply an approach/practice/structure I am open to having in my life. However, focusing on entering into relationships for the sake of attaining the goal of "being poly" -- rather than on cultivating healthy, loving relationships in my life -- would be a huge mistake.

Recently, I was reading an online article by Deborah Anapol, who wrote Polyamory in the 21st Century and Love Without Limits, and one statement in that article stuck out for me:
While the freedom to explore polyamory is crucial to both spiritual and cultural evolution, I believe it's a mistake to view polyamory, however you chose to define it, as the destination.
The article is here: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/...yond-polyamory


Also, there have been some similar discussions here before:

mono-poly spectrum?

practicing poly but not ID'ing as poly?

Is poly a decision or a person's nature?


lifestyle vs. identity in polyamory

Everyone is Poly underneath


BrigidsDaughter 02-14-2012 10:02 PM

For me poly is an orientation. But I wouldn't call it a sexual orientation.

As a young teen, I would fall in love and immediately assume that meant the relationship I was in had to end. I didn't know relationships could be conducted any other way. Even after I met Runic Wolf, I was still attracted to several of my female friends. But I never acted on it because I wasn't ready to believe I was bi-sexual and because he truly is a part of me that I didn't know was missing until I found it. Runic Wolf and I learned about poly together and both identified with it, which makes things so much easier in alot of ways.

I prefer to live polyamarously because it means I do not have to deny my feelings for another.

redpepper 02-15-2012 12:19 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by BrigidsDaughter (Post 124949)
For me poly is an orientation. But I wouldn't call it a sexual orientation.

I wouldn't call it a sexual orientation either. Is that what was mentioned? I missed that.

Identity, according to wiki anyway, is "the relation each thing bears just to itself." "The sociological notion of identity, by contrast, has to do with a person's self-conception, social presentation, and more generally, the aspects of a person that make them unique, or qualitatively different from others (e.g. cultural identity, gender identity, national Identity, online identity and processes of identity formation.)"

Sexual orientation, according to wiki "describes an enduring pattern of attraction—emotional, romantic, sexual, or some combination of these—to the opposite sex, the same sex, both, or neither, and the genders that accompany them. These attractions are generally subsumed under heterosexuality, homosexuality, bisexuality, and asexuality."

These two definitions, when merged together, are an attempt to describe to me. Its a 'self concept' that brings "attraction to others" and a "pattern of that attraction" together. It means that I pull into my "heart' (for want of a better word) many people at once, not just one at a time.

I don't think poly is about how many relationships I have, but how I love others and the possibility I have decided to allow to express that love. I have no control over that. It is proven to me that I cannot control my love for others and my drive to express that is curvable to a point, but not healthy for me.

nycindie 02-15-2012 12:27 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by redpepper (Post 124969)
These two definitions, when merged together...

Did you happen to see the illustration on gender I found and posted in the Fireplace forum recently?

Any combination of gender identity, expression, biology, or sexual orientation/attractions can "fit" with either monogamy, polyamory, or other variant of relationship. Therefore, I see polyamory as a way to practice, approach, or structure relationships that one can choose or gravitate toward, regardless of where on any of these continuums (below) the person is, as far as identity. How your personality has developed, I believe, plays a role in whether you are drawn to poly or not.

I guess you could call polyamory or monogamy possible identities in terms of how one approaches creating and managing relationships, kind of like identifying as introverted or extroverted in approaching social situations, but that would not be the same as gender or sexual identity.

Here is the "genderbread person" graphic:

Quote:

Originally Posted by nycindie (Post 122960)
See Breaking through the binary: Gender explained using continuums. The image below is the printer-friendly version, a link to which is included in the article.

http://itspronouncedmetrosexual.com/...ead-Person.jpg


SourGirl 02-15-2012 12:42 AM

Agreed nycindie,..and AWESOME illustration.
I`ve saved that for my kids.
Very cool.

redpepper 02-15-2012 01:07 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by nycindie (Post 124971)
Either monogamy or polyamory can "fit" with any combination of gender identity, expression, biology, or sexual orientation/attractions.

I agree that gender identity and sexual orientation/attractions can be mixed with a mono or poly identity because they are orientations.

Quote:

Originally Posted by nycindie (Post 124971)
Therefore, I see both as a practice, approach, or structure that one can choose or gravitate toward, regardless of where on any of these continuums the person is, as far as identity.

Choosing is an option for some I guess. That is what I understand from you and sourgirl and others. It isn't for me. I am poly in orientation, even if I might choose to be in a mono situation. Others might be mono in orientation and choose to be in a poly situation in order to express their bisexual identities/orientations or for other reasons. That to me is a lifestyle choice of either monogamy or polyamory identity.

Quote:

Originally Posted by nycindie (Post 124971)
I guess you could call polyamory or monogamy possible identities in terms of how one approaches creating and managing relationships, kind of like identifying as introverted or extroverted in approaching social situations, but that would not be the same as gender or sexual identity.

I agree, gender/sexual identity is not the same as gender/sexual orientation. It seems to follow along the lines that introversion and extroversion does. I would agree with that... that is another identity that comes from an orientation though no?

It seems to me that orientation is something that one just is. Something that we are born with. Identity is how one chooses to express themselves and what we were born with. Some gay people are gay in orientation, but don't identify as such. They have chosen not to for whatever reason (religious beliefs sometimes being one)... it doesn't change that they were created gay I don't think. Its about choosing what one expresses and takes as their identity.

On this visual (very cute btw :))I would identify my poly as being an orientation and an identity.

Identifying as poly is two fold perhaps.... those who identify as poly in lifestyle choice and those that identify poly because of their orientation.

nycindie 02-15-2012 01:08 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by SourGirl (Post 124973)
Agreed nycindie,..and AWESOME illustration.
I`ve saved that for my kids.
Very cool.

Yeah, I love the name "Genderbread Person" too.

Pretzels 02-15-2012 01:24 AM

I agree with the Poly by choosing/accident/no other way around it - that's how I identify. Even though I had experience being a tertiary member of another, larger group (think moon orbiting distant planet), all that did as we figured our way into a more physical relationship with my men was inform me of the things that had not worked for me in the past.

So, yeah, I doubt very much that I would be poly/seek out poly in any other situation. I know T wouldn't and that's something he's made very clear. E might, but it's hard to say.


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