The title of your post sounds makes it sound like one could "share" people like a plate of hors d'oeurves that you pass around at a party. To each his or her own, but it is no wonder poly groups are not your thing.
Ah I thought this was what might happen . . . I would be looked down upon as a "swinger" . . . something I would never use to label myself, nor is it a community that I have any contact with (or wish to), just because I mentioned sex for fun. My boyfriend and I don't "swing" . . . which is to say go out together as a couple to swap, share meet . . . whatever . . . with other couples or singles. We are simply free to pursue our attractions, (whatever they may be) like adults, so long as we're honest with each other. As I said, this usually takes the form of short-term involvements with other awesome people, but not always. The label I use is "open relationship" which I think is a good umbrella term for a variety of non-traditional, non-monogamous relating. What to call it has been the least of my worries . . . what to do about it sometimes is.
So am I textbook polyamorous? I suppose I just don't feel like that is the most important question . . . and that was part of my turn-off to the poly community: everybody seemed eager to label me in ways that I felt didn't describe me at all, and were mostly interested in 1.) coming on to me in ways that were overly-permissive and uncomfortable 2.) making sure that my relationship followed a bunch of books on polyamory that I was not allowed to question or disagree with 3.) trying to sell me sex products. Frankly very few folks seemed to want to get to know me or to hear about how I 'do' love, they were more concerned if I was doing it their way, if I was really 'one of them.' That mostly convinced me that I didn't want to be.
So apparently I have to prove myself: In addition to my boyfriend I have an ongoing work and romantic relationship with a German man who is also in an open relationship of 6 years . . . he currently lives abroad but we have been sexually intimate and speak several times a week, collaborate on art installations and academic work together. I will see him for probably a month come March. He is a brilliant person who invigorates me intellectually, trusts me deeply and cares about me personally, as I do him. My partner and I have both dated people while also dating each other, having relationships lasting many months. Frankly, the sex I have with other women or men . . . even if I'm not looking to date them long-term, tends to be highly meaningful sex with a lasting personal connection . . . not this objectified passing around of a person "like a plate of hors d'oeurves" as you assumed. That's just not how I tend to do things.
I felt drawn to polyamory discourse because it seemed there would be some people there dealing with the sorts of situations and emotions someone in my place would be. Is it then your contention that polyamory is only polyamory if you intend all of your relationships to be multiple and permanent/long term? For my own part, I don't label myself . . . I am just me, and what I do romantically is closer to what all of you seem to be doing that what monogamous couples or swingers do. That said, you guys seem definitely not to want to claim someone like me
Any honest responses to my questions are indeed appreciated. Thank you to those of you that responded kindly with your ideas.