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-   -   Labels -- I HATE them! Advice? (http://www.polyamory.com/forum/showthread.php?t=8441)

zusammen 04-04-2011 10:42 AM

Labels -- I HATE them! Advice?
Hi all. New here, and fairly new to polyamoury. Please bear with my rambling... as you'll see, I'm not very good at putting my thoughts on this subject into words....

Anyway, I recently met someone with whom I have a great connection. I've been seeing him, sort of hoping "the" conversation would just bring itself up, but that wasn't happening and I was beginning to feel it needed to be brought up sooner rather than later. I had absolutely no idea how to broach the subject of my being polyamorous, so I got rather drunk first :D This helped me "break the ice", but just made it that much harder to express myself succinctly...

So he got that I'm polyamorous, but probably not much about what exactly that means to me, and I'm pretty sure I didn't make it at all clear that I have a "boyfriend" already - and that I am, in fact, (temporarily) living with him. Now that's another conversation that I do not look forward to having :(

The problem is, I just don't know how to explain myself to people. I am resistant to using labels, (such as "polyamorous" and "boyfriend") because they already carry connotations that I don't necessarily feel apply to me. Avoiding these terms really makes discussions difficult, and generally each of these topics requires so much clarification that I don't get around to discussing both in one sitting...

I also don't know whether it's best to explain my situation in terms of the philosophy behind it, or the reality of it, or what. It all makes sense in my head, but it's thoughts and feelings that I just don't know how to convey accurately to anyone else -- nor in what order...

I guess also it just annoys me that people carry around assumptions - that if you hook up with someone, and they're obviously interested in more than a one-night stand, that it's supposed to become monogamous, exclusive, committed. I don't make these assumptions, so if I'm not asking, it means I don't really care. So I find it kind of difficult that I have to bring the subject up, when I'm the one that is flexible about what the situation is. I either like it or I don't, and if I'm curious or bothered, I'll ask. If I'm not asked outright, or it doesn't just kind of come up in conversation, I'm at a complete loss how to bring it up at all... I'd honestly prefer not to mention it, except this kind of thing seems to matter to other people quite a bit :rolleyes:

Sorry for all the rambling. I'm really just wondering if other people have this kind of difficulty? How do some of you bring this up with potential new..... um.... "friends"? Does anyone have one simple statement that can just sum everything up????

Aggghhh!! :S

BlackUnicorn 04-04-2011 01:12 PM

Hullo and welcome!

Sadly, no simple statements. This subject of how to bring up poly with potential new squeezes has been discussed a lot just because there is no one catch word to sum it all up. Do a tag search on 'dating' and see what others have come up with.

As to the specific question of whether to describe the philosophy or the practice I would take the practice, and if further questions arise, make sure to mention 'polyamory', 'responsible non-monogamy', 'non-exclusiveness' or whatever you think describes your situation best. If they are interested, they will check out Google or Wikipedia, or ask you outright.

The biggest confusion I see people having is confusing responsible non-monogamy with cheating. Something quite casual like 'my boyfriend has been going on dates with this girl, and I think she's really cute and they seem to be getting on fine' or whatever circumvents the problem some people have with blurting out 'I'm polyamorous' or 'You need to know I have a live-in bf', since it doesn't always ring a bell and would imply that you are actually thinking this new thing is going to be a relationship. Cheating and seeking out affairs is something that makes culturally a lot more sense, as it were, so that is what people will automatically assume in most cases.

As to general aversion to labels - you need to establish a certain level of common language with anyone you meet in order to be mutually understood. It doesn't have to be polyamorous or boyfriend or a even a relationship, but something that even if it doesn't 100 % describe your life philosophy communicates something across the board. I lean towards 'ATM I'm dating someone but we are not exclusive', but there are really lots of ways people have chosen to tell the same thing. Read around a bit and see what feels right to you.

Ariakas 04-04-2011 06:16 PM

The very nature of poly allows for a craptastic amount of micro labelling. I for one love the terms lovers, girlfriends, boyfriend etc. They suit me.

Life partners, sisters, brothers... magick love friends etc... all drive me nuts. They don't suit me, my personality or my life.

Labelling is something that comes up for a lot of people. Especially considering some labels can denote ownership. I wish you the best of luck on finding something that suits you and your "friends"


except this kind of thing seems to matter to other people quite a bit
If I were monogamous, and met someone who didn't tell me they weren't and they wanted a relationship. I would be pissed. So I can understand why they want to know.

For the record, I am non-monogamist/open first. Poly second. I find explaining I am in an open relationship far better suits me than poly. Poly does carry a lot of.. extra stuff to it, that I don't identify with. This whole non-monogamist thing for me is like dating. I enjoyed it when I was available, the dating aspect was fun, but I am not going to fall in love with everyone I meet. Poly creates that assumption and pressure, so I do understand :)

redpepper 04-05-2011 12:03 AM

You might try a tag search on "coming out" also. I can remember a thread that Mono started on what to tell people who have no clue what poly is or worse yet did an on line search and got one of those "poly" dating sites that are for people looking to cheat on their partners or something! (I refuse to use their names here as I don't encourage anyone go to them to find out about poly!)

When Mono came out he told his family we had an "open relationship." Just about everyone gets that an "open relationship" means you are free to date others. Its a bit different than poly in that it indicates less emotional ties to those you "date" but at least its above board a bit more than "cheating." Which indicates lies and deception is going on.

MonoVCPHG 04-05-2011 01:34 AM

Here'e s a link to the post Redpepper is referring to.

Knowing your audience

redpepper 04-05-2011 05:21 AM


Originally Posted by MonoVCPHG (Post 74726)
Here'e s a link to the post Redpepper is referring to.

Knowing your audience

Thanks my love :)

zusammen 04-05-2011 09:11 AM

Thanks for the responses, and the link.

That all makes a lot of sense, and I think my head has cleared a little on the matter now, but it really is just the initial ice breaker that I struggle with. If people ask me questions, I have no problem explaining, but to just begin the talk out of nowhere is difficult for me.

I've considered the phrase "open relationship" before, but it just wouldn't work for me. I don't know if it's got to do with where I live or what, but that term seems to imply to people diminished respect for the partnership - and at the same time that there is a "primary" and everything else is relatively meaningless. Similarly, just casually mentioning my "boyfriend" would only suggest the whole "cheater" connotation.

I guess now that I have broken the ice, it's just a matter of clarifying further, and I guess I'll just have to check with the guy in question if he has any particular questions.

This whole thing is just one big mindfuck sometimes... :o

SourGirl 04-05-2011 03:56 PM

It sure is a big mindfuck somedays !

Micro-labelling can bug me too. Especially *ahemm* the 'cowgirl' term. haha. Or a few others that make me roll my eyes.....BUT,...really, at the end of the day, you can only control your own reactions and feelings about words. I`ve come to a point, where I use general-term labels, because I know what they mean ..to me.

I don`t identify as 'poly' as the general consensus on fundamentals, is not my personal belief, even though I feel poly in basic ability.

So I use 'Open Relationship/marriage' because it is a umbrella term in my mind. A umbrella that sub-cultures swinging, polyamory, dating, bdsm play-partners, and everything in between.

I know some people feel it lessens the 'value' or simply means casual play,.and that is totally acceptable. For me,..it never meant that. I could search and search, for a term that is more 'accepted' but there will always be people I run into that see it differently.

So for that reason, I would encourage you to use terms that make sense to you, on a personal level. Then, when you are asked questions, or care to offer explanations, you will feel more confident (and in turn, the receiver of your info, will feel more conviction in your explanations) and easily explain, or chat.

When it comes to alternative lifestyle, explanations are inevitable. :)

nycindie 04-06-2011 06:05 AM

I'm a solo person who is dating. I pretty much never use the term polyamory when talking to my dates/potential lovers in the beginning, unless they bring it up first. It's too confusing, and I find too many people think it's swinging. I talk about not wanting exclusivity and will mention monogamy. Once a convo gets rolling or I get to know them, I use the word polyamory, but only if it's useful. I don't like the idea that I might be projecting some pre-conceived structure on how I want to be in relationships.

Fobwatch 04-06-2011 09:46 PM

This thread has been quite useful. Ive searched about a bit and find the same problems trying to think of ways to broach the subject to friends/those I may be interested in.

Thanks, anything is always useful ^^

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