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-   -   Dating vs. Poly (http://www.polyamory.com/forum/showthread.php?t=8226)

redpepper 03-27-2011 06:37 PM

Dating vs. Poly
I was wondering what the difference is and what the cause is of people in their 20's using the term poly and not dating.

When I was this age I dated many people and had sex with people without telling people. I always protected myself and it was not frowned upon as this was the norm. Some of the people I dated knew I had other men in my life and at one point there was a room-mate situation where I was with two guys living together... brothers. There was no discussion. No need to discuss, because it was casual and we weren't ever gf/bf. We were dating...

Now it seems the term poly is used quite often for the same behaviour. I want to stress the lack of communication here and lack of consent. There was not consent, because I was my own person and therefore could and did make my own decision. There was no reason to communicate for this reason also.

So what has changed? Is the term "Poly" just different for younger generations? Is there a change in dating? Or is there no change and its really just the same as when I was young with the word poly given to it?

I ask because it has come up a few times lately for me that there seems to be some confusion as to the common themes of poly being about open and honest communication, consent and consideration for others involved. It seems, in the stories I have heard lately that there is little to no need for these common themes, yet there is still the word poly thrown in there...

any thoughts?

ray 03-27-2011 08:14 PM

I was thinking about this the other day. About when just dating around become poly or how to tell the difference. I'm not sure if it's a generational thing or not. I don't actually know many, if any poly people my age. I do know lots of people who date a lot but none of them consider themselves poly.

I think I see at as being about intentions. A lot of people date around but ultimately they're looking for the one or just killing time with random encounters until they find something bigger. Generally when something gets serious it becomes exclusive. They wouldn't really consider the possibility of allowing more than one of those dating partners to become a serious relationship.

I think that to call it poly there should be intent of dating in order to establish or with the possibility of finding multiple relationships.

Playing the field or dating around can, in my mind, be called non-monogamy but I see is as a temporary state for many of those people. I think it's possible to do that and be poly but many people play the field with no intentions of polyamory.

Personally, I'm not much for casual dating. I don't like going on dates with people I don't know very well. I definitely don't enjoy casual hookups. So for me, playing the field isn't something I tend to do. I take a long time to feel comfortable enough with someone to want to be with them. I often feel like a late bloomer or defective for being so slow but I've been trying to accept that it's ok for me to not want to start relationships in certain ways.

I'm not sure what you're asking the last paragraph. Are you saying you see a lot of young people calling it poly but not being open and honest? I think I do see people who want to cut corners and call it poly after having an affair.

Derbylicious 03-27-2011 08:44 PM

I wonder if it might be a case of learing how to do relationships well. I'm sure there are people who dated many people in their 20's who went on to discover what it meant to have an ethically non-monogamous relationship meant. There might be a difference in the way it is done but if these 20-somethings now have a term for how they feel they might be more likely to seek out the resources on how to be compassionate and open towards their partners.

Your 20's are a time to learn how to be in relationships in whatever form those relationships take. There aren't a whole lot of people who do monogamy well in their 20's either (think "If you don't know what's wrong then I'm not going to tell you").

Tonberry 03-27-2011 08:52 PM

I think it could qualify as poly if you're warning everyone that you're not exclusive, and if you're open to serious relationships with the people you date. If it's casual sex, it sounds more like swinging to me.

But I don't know, I've never dated around, and I think most people would expect you to be dating only them if you're dating them, no? Even though I'm poly, if I date someone who tells me they're single, I'll interpret it to mean they're not seeing anyone at all. To me, dating means you're not single anymore (I guess you could argue "but then nobody could tell you "I'm single" and be telling the truth, since by dating you they stop being single" but I see it as a case of "I'm on a desert island". It's not desert since YOU are on it, but that still works. If you meet someone else there, though, it's not a desert island anymore.)

ImaginaryIllusion 03-27-2011 08:55 PM

Didn't it just used to be called 'playing the field'...as opposed to 'going steady'?

The kids probably just want new names for stuff so they don't sound like their parents.

redpepper 03-27-2011 10:06 PM

II you crack me up! HA! Possibly so though.

It could be about intent. I was looking for one love in a monogamous way. Not several meaningful going steady boy friends. Maybe now there is an options? I will be interested to see how many "poly" relationships end in monogamy once a decent monogamous partner is found and how many will be poly all their lives. Either is an option provided ones life goals are being fulfilled I would think.

nycindie 03-27-2011 10:13 PM


Originally Posted by Tonberry (Post 73215)
But I don't know, I've never dated around, and I think most people would expect you to be dating only them if you're dating them, no?

No, I don't think most people you go on a date with would assume they're the only person you're dating until you've gone out a few times and then things started to be sexual. And then you would discuss it before assuming that kind of exclusivity. To most people I know, dating usually means out there and dating people without any commitment yet. But dating doesn't necessarily mean you are sexual with your dates - that would be, perhaps, "playing the field." Dating is usually the phase where you get to know someone and see if you want to take it further. When you're only seeing one person, or begin to have some kind of steady or committed involvement, you're "seeing someone."


Originally Posted by Tonberry (Post 73215)
Even though I'm poly, if I date someone who tells me they're single, I'll interpret it to mean they're not seeing anyone at all. To me, dating means you're not single anymore . . .

To me, single just means you don't have a committed exclusive relationship. Then again, lots of people I know think that single just means not married. In either case, you can be dating a bunch of people, as a single person. That's what most single people do - date! :D

As for the young people nowadays, and their interests and the terminology they use, they are truly a puzzlement to me (oy, I sound old)! Haha! So, I really can't speak to that.

bella123456 03-27-2011 11:08 PM


Originally Posted by redpepper (Post 73183)
I was wondering what the difference is and what the cause is of people in their 20's using the term poly and not dating.

I think the internet is a big part of it.

When I was in my twenties, It would have been very hard for me to use, or even discover the word “poly”. Especially as I frequented coffee shops and bars rather than the university library. I would have really had to go out of my way to analyse my relationships and research relationship styles – And I was too busy just having them :)

I’d heard of the internet, something along the lines of “Yeah, like, I think you can look up information from anywhere in the world and it just comes up on your own computer screen, and you can write a letter to someone but you don’t even need to post it – It just appears instantly on their own computer” ...oh, right...how does it get to their screen ?? LOL !

Not very many people I knew had home computers. Information was hard to find, it took time to get information.

I think it’s the same for may aspects of life;

I have a sore ankle, a quick google search indicates I may have a problem with my achilles tendon....

My mood swings are severe – Oh, google points me towards bipolar issues.

I’m in a relationship with X, but really have strong feelings for Y. Google presents me with “poly”.

The internet presents us with solutions or discussions or definitions or philosophies or strategies, and it’s instant information, right there on your own computer screen.

People in their twenties have grown up with a high level of “information expectations”, they expect and desire information on their topic of interest to be available, so it’s probably not too surprising that what would have been “dating” years and years ago...lends itself to “poly” now.

Now, I should also admit I don’t know many people in their twenties...so I’m just musing..

Anybody in their twenties for comment ?

ray 03-27-2011 11:23 PM

I am 22. Alternative lifestyle choices are increasing in their numbers in part because of awareness via the Internet. I think a lot of young people are genuinely interested in poly. Not just dating around. Just like there are schmucks in their 40's abusing the term poly, there are those in their 20's. I think young people try poly for a lot of the same reasons everyone else does. They want love and connection.

Ariakas 03-28-2011 02:25 AM

I have often wondered this myself. How many people are dating but throwing a new name at it.

In reality, what does it matter. Maybe those poly people who are actually dating will find the "one".

When I am available, I am dating.. I just happen to be married as well. :)

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