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-   -   "The Code" (http://www.polyamory.com/forum/showthread.php?t=36068)

River 12-30-2012 07:24 PM

"The Code"
In another thread (linked below), I began to share some ideas and observations I have about what I'm calling "The Code," which is our cultural "default setting" regarding beliefs and norms about love, sex and relationships.

I listed among other items (and there are many, many more than I listed) the Code belief that "true love" must be exclusive (which means non-exclusive isn't the real deal). This item in The Code is, of course, of special interest to those with an interest in polyamory (folks in this forum). And we won't have much difficulty deriving related premises from this initial one (also of interest), such as the notion that if one is exploring a second love interest while with one's initial partner/spouse, one is "hurting" or "harming" the partner/spouse -- as in, "How could you do that to [partner/spouse's name]?!"

This thread is for the purpose of discovering and discussing the various components of "The Code". Feel free to offer items which you think are encoded in the set of cultural norms and attitudes which are rather automaticaly accepted by the culture. (Of course, there are people from around the world here, so "the culture" means "where you live".)


SourGirl 01-02-2013 11:14 PM

Everyone thinking they are 'different' and 'unique' or that they should be, is pretty encoded into our belief system. Rarely they actually are.
Being 'smart' is another area. Everyone thinking they themselves are smart, and the 'other person' is always the dumbass, when situations go south.

This goes into relationships, as people want to be seen as 'unique' , smarter, prettier, and special in the eyes of that other person. It's not just a case that people think a lay-a-way spouse is being harmed. There is an ingrained feeling in each of us to be '#1'. We want to know what differentiates us from the rest of the crowd.

So,..what is the answer ? Start training babies to share their favourite toys, every Wednesday, Friday, and sometimes Saturday ?

- Abolish the term : 'More then anything in the world' after you use the word 'love' ?

- Kill all the lawyers. ( Oopsie, different subject. My bad.)

- Mom-swapping ? That way, children don`t think they get their mother to themself.


Okay joke time :

There were three guys talking in the pub. Two of them are talking about the amount of control they have over their wives, while the third remains quiet.

After a while one of the first two turns to the third and says,

"Well, what about you, what sort of control do you have over your wife?"

The third fellow says "I'll tell you. Just the other night my wife came to me on her hands and knees."

The first two guys were amazed. "What happened then?" they asked. "She said, 'get out from under the bed and fight like a man'."


and a poly joke :

A young man finds the woman of his dreams and marries her. He tells his wife he doesn`t want to be monogamous. She is miffed, but slightly curious. He decides he is going to date, and make a game out of it all. He tells his wife, he wants her to meet his fiance, his girlfriend, and his 2 fuck buddies. Her eyes get wide at the new information.
He says he'll bring the 4 other women over, and see if she can guess which women he wants to keep. His wife agrees to the game.

That night, he shows up at his house with four beautiful young ladies. They all sit down on the couch, and everyone has a wonderful evening talking and getting to know each other.

At the end of the evening, the young man asks his wife, 'OK, wife, which are the women I want to keep?'

Without any hesitation at all, his wife replies, 'The ones on either end.'

The young man is astounded. 'How in the world did you figure it out?'

'Easy,' she says. 'Because the only ones I can stand, are the ones in the middle.'


Ok that's all I got. I hope it helps get your thread going. :D

SourGirl 01-02-2013 11:52 PM

Or this ! Just made it.


Velvet 01-02-2013 11:56 PM

The "code" as you call it, is something that has bothered me my whole life. To myself, in my head, I always wondered how everyone else knew what the rules were and why doing or saying anything else was meet with such repulsion.

In particular all the rules of the code about gender. Growing up you get the impression about how guys and gals are supposed to act around each other (because everyone assumes everyone is straight of course) and what you can talk about. Personally I found the rules about opposite genders are supposed to talk and not talk about damaging to my relationships. In a romantic relationship you are not supposed to talk with your SO about: any past romantic relationship or any crush you may feel at the moment. There are more, sure, but those two things being forbidden to talk about only promote jealousy. In my opinion. And are potentially damaging any good relationship.

The stereotype is you can only talk with your same gendered friends about your past relationships, or a current crush. But in realty I find most people I have known follow that code. I followed that rule, to a huge detriment in my life.

TrulsShadow 01-04-2013 10:58 PM

Exactly! Binary gender role stereotypes and assumptions of everyone being heterosexual- and when you are in a society with that way of thinking, and you don't fit it, it can be damaging. In attempting to be something you are not is only harmful to you, even if you realize this- it's a belief of there being no other way, and a translation of 'something's wrong with me'.

Kommander 01-07-2013 06:01 AM


Originally Posted by Velvet (Post 175341)
The "code" as you call it, is something that has bothered me my whole life. To myself, in my head, I always wondered how everyone else knew what the rules were and why doing or saying anything else was meet with such repulsion.

This touches on one of the bigger problems with "The Code," and its very nature. Everyone has their own version of "The Code," but many think their version is the "correct" version and universal. This allows people who feel wronged to change a disagreement into a more serious violation of rules. It's essentially a variation of an appeal to common sense. And, just like an appeal to common sense, is an artifact of or even a justification for poor communication.

One of the problems I've personally had with "The Code" is certain people being off-limits for romantic involvement. I remember on Rescue Me Dennis Leary listed that a friend's girlfriend, ex-girlfriend, wife, ex-wife, sister, and half-sister are off-limits. Some people I know are even more restrictive. A former friend of mine insisted that I needed his approval before dating any woman that both of us knew, and eventually started acting like it was up to him if I was allowed to date anyone. (It turns out he's secretly in love with me and was getting possessive, which is why he's no longer my friend.)

Current girlfriend or wife, yeah, I need permission, whether it's a friend or not. Anyone else, as long as we're consenting adults no one else has a say. I'd prefer if said friend approved, but I ask as a courtesy, not for permission.

On New Year's Eve I was at a friend's party, where I met his (soon to be) sister-in-law. Her and I hit it off and we're planning on going on our first date later this week. Luckily my friend and his fiancee are cool with it. Before talking to them, I was a little worried. I also know of a few people that wouldn't approve even though it has nothing to do with them whatsoever.

Had either of them not been okay with it: Her and I started talking, and kept talking. Eventually we realised it was 8am and everyone had gone to sleep or left hours before. We decided we were tired so we crawled into bed, cuddled for a bit, fell asleep, woke up with my arms around her and holding her hand. Got up, talked to my friend for a bit, went to check on her, crawled back in bed for more talking and cuddling. Both of got up, sat in the kitchen and talked some more, and then parted ways at 9ish after lots of hugging. I've never experienced that kind of connection with someone. If anyone doesn't like it they can kiss my ass.

River 01-07-2013 09:42 PM


Originally Posted by Xared (Post 176261)
If anyone doesn't like it they can kiss my ass.

Okay, but can we cuddle and talk first? ;)

I couldn't help myself (above). :p

You make a good point about how the "Code" differs from person to person, "community" to community.... Still, there are nearly ubiquitous norms in various societies (e.g., the USA). And those norms are enforced -- sometimes as laws, more often in the way mores are enforced (See Anthropology 101).

I think more and more of us are beginning to question "The Code" ... and are beginning to create a whole new paradigm which allows for much more diversity of orientations and values. And I don't think this means wreck and ruin, as some religious zealots and conformity fanatics do. But it does mean we need to practice our communication skills, as you implied.

See: (informal means of social control):

Excerpt from that link: "Informal sanctions may include shame, ridicule, sarcasm, criticism, and disapproval, which can cause an individual to stray towards the social norms of the society."

Stray? Hmm.

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