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-   -   What is this "lifestyle" you mention? (http://www.polyamory.com/forum/showthread.php?t=9113)

AutumnalTone 04-23-2011 06:28 PM

What is this "lifestyle" you mention?
 
Seriiously, folks. I keep seeing references to some supposed poly "lifestyle" and I simply don't understand it. The only thing polyfolk can expect to have in common with other polyfolk is that they engage in multiple romantic relationships. That's it.

I have to wonder what sort of things I'd have to be doing to qualify for this "lifestyle" that keeps getting mentioned. Attend potlucks every second Thursday evening? Attend an annual Many Partners Ball? Buy a pair of assless chaps for parades? Join a fundamentalist religious cult?

What is this "lifestyle" supposed to be?

As far as I can see, loving multiple people is in no fashion linked to any lifestyle. One can have multiple relationships while living in a small rural town or in the 'burbs or in a city. One can have two or three or twelve partners. One can travel far and wide regularly or one can stay at home. One can dress in the latest styles or old jeans and a t shirt. One can ride motorcycles or race hot rods or eschew motor vehicles for a favorite bicycle.

What is it?

nycindie 04-23-2011 08:11 PM

I agree!

I was going to respond to someone's reference to a "poly lifestyle" today, as a matter of fact. It actually made me go and look up the word lifestyle, just to make sure I wasn't overreacting.

According to Dictionary.com: "the habits, attitudes, tastes, moral standards, economic level, etc., that together constitute the mode of living of an individual or group."

From my trusty ol' American Heritage dictionary: "A way of life or style of living that reflects the attitudes or values of a person or group."

Basically, it's a manner of living, but there are so many varying lifestyles of people who practice polyamory that it truly is impossible to define what a polyamorous lifestyle would be. How poly is practiced depends on the individuals involved, and there is no One True Way and, therefore, no poly lifestyle.

I often do hear people refer to poly as a "lovestyle," though. What do you think of that term? It kinda bugs me, too.

AutumnalTone 04-23-2011 09:22 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by nycindie (Post 77848)
From my trusty ol' American Heritage dictionary: "A way of life or style of living that reflects the attitudes or values of a person or group."

About the only thing in common among polyfolk is the insistence on being forthright and honest with all partners. As that's also a trait shared by many monofolk, it's not really something on which to hang a "lifestyle."

Quote:

I often do hear people refer to poly as a "lovestyle," though. What do you think of that term? It kinda bugs me, too.
I don't find that term accurate or useful, either. Polyfolk don't love any differently than monofolk--we just allow for loving more than one romantic partner at a time.

I suspect that the urge for people to try to set off polyamory as something substantively different than mono romance works to the detriment of polyfolk. Claiming poly is a lifestyle or lovestyle cheapens poly in much the same way that saying homosexuality is merely a lifestyle or lovestyle, something that can be readily discarded.

nycindie 04-23-2011 09:29 PM

I know Ariakas has referred to the "poly machine" more than once on these boards. I think that perhaps calling polyamory a lifestyle or lovestyle is a way of pandering to this machine, or some misguided way to feel included in something bigger, rather than acknowledging that it's all up to us as individuals to define what poly means for us and creating the lives we want to live polyamorously, based on who we are. Maybe there's some fear connected to its use of those words. Does that make sense?

detritus 04-24-2011 07:25 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by nycindie (Post 77870)
I know Ariakas has referred to the "poly machine" more than once on these boards. I think that perhaps calling polyamory a lifestyle or lovestyle is a way of pandering to this machine, or some misguided way to feel included in something bigger, rather than acknowledging that it's all up to us as individuals to define what poly means for us and creating the lives we want to live polyamorously, based on who we are. Maybe there's some fear connected to its use of those words. Does that make sense?

I think this makes a lot of sense. I know a lot of my unease in opening up my relationship is feeling very ungrounded and that there are no relationship "rules of thumb" to look toward. In a mono relationship, there are some basic guidelines like the "third date rule" or how long is normal to wait before moving in together, etc, etc. There's a standard trajectory that the relationship "should" follow. Even if you don't follow those rules, you know when you are breaking them and what that signifies.

Poly relationships are so outside the normal relationship storyline that it feels like none of those basic rules apply and that you are flying blind. It can feel overwhelming, especially when you are new to it. Even if you come to realize that the freedom is a good thing, I think it's understandable to want to identify some group or set of values that you can belong to and take your cues from. Even if there is no real poly lifestyle out there, the idea of one can be comforting.

Even if I think "lifestyle" is a poor choice of words, I don't think the idea of a poly culture is all nonsense. A shared unique vocabulary is a strong indication of a unique subculture. I doubt words like "compersion" or "metamour" would be understood by most non-poly people.

BlackUnicorn 04-24-2011 01:27 PM

There is a difference
 
...between people in the 'lifestyle' and those who are just curious :p!

I just refer to people as 'not in the lifestyle' to mean they are people who don't identify as polyamorous (until perhaps now).

In my blog I berated myself for flirting with Sweetheart although I knew full well that he was 'not in the life(style)' with his wife. So no potlucks necessary :D, what I wanted to convey was that they had been mostly monogamous thus far and are currently in-transition. A whole different set of issues to dating someone who is 'in the lifestyle' and looking for new partners with the full consent and oft enthusiasm of their current partner(s).

I welcome any suggestions that would convey the same difference but would set fewer people off.

After all, BDSM folks have the 'scene'. Can we have something similar?

Hades36 04-24-2011 01:49 PM

I think using the term "lifestyle" or "culture" is fine, at least for me.

I mean, why not? We use those words to describe everything else in society. I have friends that talk about the "Bohemian lifestyle" or the "vegetarian lifestyle" or the "gay culture" or "Black culture" or "liberal culture" or "geek culture" or how being a professional athlete creates a whole different lifestyle than, say, being a computer programmer.

For myself, I disagree that the only thing that makes poly people different than mono people is that poly people allow for more loving relationships. For me, just the fact of allowing for more loving relationships and partners also denotes a radically different way of viewing the world and living in society than what I have always been used to; on a real practical level, I don't understand how me and PLove welcoming new people and their energy into our lives would NOT change our lifestyle in some pretty major ways. To me, its like saying that the only difference between a social conservative and a liberal is how they vote.

Who I love, how I love, what I love, and how I form partnerships all speak volumes about how I live in the world. Again, this is my take on the words for myself and how I understand them. Not saying that lifestyles and cultures don't overlap or blend but there's a reason why we have the words "culture shock", "culture war" and "lifestyle changes" in common parlance.

AutumnalTone 04-24-2011 06:35 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by BlackUnicorn (Post 78031)
I just refer to people as 'not in the lifestyle' to mean they are people who don't identify as polyamorous (until perhaps now).

Then speak of polyfolk and monofolk. Or use some other accurate description.

Quote:

After all, BDSM folks have the 'scene'. Can we have something similar?
BDSM folks have an actual scene, complete with scheduled play parties as an integral part of what they do. They also share a set of expectations regarding their play activities. I'm unconvinced that there's anything involved with poly that even comes close to being a similar "scene."

BlackUnicorn 04-24-2011 06:42 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by AutumnalTone (Post 78085)
Then speak of polyfolk and monofolk. Or use some other accurate description.

Hmm, as in 'I berated myself over starting to flirt with someone who was monofolk'? What if they are poly but are living monogamously? 'I berated myself over starting to flirt with someone who was living monogamously'? 'Someone who was not living polyamorously'?

That's why I ended up with 'lifestyle'.

I think there is also a local polyscene in the sense of scheduled activities. So maybe local polyscene and people who live polyamorously vs. people who don't live polyamorously (PWDLPA) :p?

AutumnalTone 04-24-2011 06:49 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Hades36 (Post 78038)
I mean, why not? We use those words to describe everything else in society. I have friends that talk about the "Bohemian lifestyle" or the "vegetarian lifestyle" or the "gay culture" or "Black culture" or "liberal culture" or "geek culture" or how being a professional athlete creates a whole different lifestyle than, say, being a computer programmer.

And vegetarian friends of mine would laugh at the notion that being vegetarian involves some specific lifestyle. That's like saying having a sodium restriction involves a lifestyle--and I can attest that there is no shared lifestyle among those us who have sodium-restricted diets. Just because some folks use terms indiscriminately doesn't mean there's any merit to such use. Using the sort of reasoning involved in that misuse, one could claim that people who prefer pecan pie share a lifestyle.

Quote:

For myself, I disagree that the only thing that makes poly people different than mono people is that poly people allow for more loving relationships. For me, just the fact of allowing for more loving relationships and partners also denotes a radically different way of viewing the world and living in society than what I have always been used to; on a real practical level, I don't understand how me and PLove welcoming new people and their energy into our lives would NOT change our lifestyle in some pretty major ways. To me, its like saying that the only difference between a social conservative and a liberal is how they vote.
I don't doubt that it seems radically different for you. From my perspective, no, there's no major difference. I've met enough polyfolk to realize that there really isn't much difference between poly and mono, and certainly not enough based on just the number of partners to claim a "lifestyle" is involved.

I'd like to know what, exactly, are the defining characteristics of our supposed lifestyle. It'll have to involve something beyond being open to multiple romantic relationships, as that in itself doesn't provide enough on which to hang the concept. There would have to be more.

Quote:

Who I love, how I love, what I love, and how I form partnerships all speak volumes about how I live in the world.
That, however, doesn't speak to any supposed lifestyle that is shared by most polyfolk. A "lifestyle" in the sense being bandied about is about characteristics shared by many, not by a personal way of living. Your person lifestyle is not a group lifestyle.


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