Originally Posted by opalescent
I see casual sex as a point in a continuum that ranges from anonymous, 'bodies-only' sex to utterly sacred, totally emotionally enmeshed sex. Both of those points exist but there is so much in-between! And it's not static, people move between points. People also choose to remain in a set geography. And relationships morph - many of us have experienced where a relationship changed in unexpected ways - from casual to more attached or from platonic to sexual. I've seen this in my relationship with SW which has changed from solely a FWB to something more involved and more attached for both of us. Ariakas' earlier post that some of his meaningful relationships started from a casual hookup is another example.
This is from the thread NYCindie noted early. Ethical non-monogamy is a continuum for me, not a either/or structure. The lines between poly, swinging, open, casual to throw a few terms around are not always obvious.
I finally figured out a metaphor that I think works for showing how poly, open, swinging and so on can be different but have the possibility to shade into each other in real life.
Ethical non-monogamy is like water. Water has different forms - ice, liquid water, gas (steam). Those forms do not look at all like each other but they are all water. They change from one to the other as physical conditions change - liguid water turns to ice as it freezes, or escape into gas as it boils. Ice dissolves into liguid as it warms. Relationships can be very much like this. They might remain in the form in which they were created. Or they might change over time such as from a FWB into something more committed like a primary relationship. Or a primary relationship can move away from that into something more open, more casual.
Other people experience and define poly and ethical non-monogamy very differently. You see it in very black and white terms. It is this
and not that
. And that works for you. But you don't have a monopoly on poly defining. The structure I describe above works well for me. It provides a useful model for understanding my life.