My poly isn't your poly - so what?
As on so many other discussion boards, the whole definition thing seems to come up with amazing regularity. Whether it is discussion of the differences between polyamory and swinging, what love is, and so on and so forth.
I really don't want to open up those discussions again - there are threads for that if that discussion is still necessary, but I think that it might be a good idea to look at why we care and how we might want to deal with it on a community like this one....
I think there are specific circumstances where defining a term has relevance - examples of those would include when trying to cater for a particular group, and trying to understand what the needs of that group are, or when trying to be more public about a concept - having a clarity helps people think about it. But outside of that... (and here's my point...)
When it comes to me and what matters to me - I really don't mind what definition you use, or even if you choose not to define it rigidly or not - I haven't met many people at all where I could say that my poly is their poly, and that is perfectly fine to me - I don't have to be the same as them or think the same as them in order to communicate with them, become friends with them and like them and respect them as people.
Even among poly folk saying "I'm poly" doesn't mean a lot and, if you want people to have an accurate picture of your relationship style, you need to explain a lot more. In my opinion there's nothing wrong with that.
When I interact with people on this and other fora, since I am not trying to define this community or do anything that involves public acceptance of the term in general, I feel that it is perfectly OK to refer to things as "that's not the way I do it" - but that's all it is - it's not a value judgment on the other person's way. Maybe sometimes we could try to defuse a potential situation like this with a little more care in how we express our differing opinions and make it a little more obvious that we respect the other person's right to think differently and to have a differently-structured relationship. This would include using words that don't sound like sweeping generalizations or could be interpreted as "this is the way to do it".
As this nebulous community I feel that it is vital that we try to open our minds and treat those of a differing opinion with respect - they got where they are through their learnings, and life experiences, and I feel that we need to respect that, whether we would personally do it the same way or not.
Everybody comes to this forum with their experiences, and some of those experiences contain trigger words that will set off a chain of emotional reactions to what we write. Expecting everyone to "check their baggage at the door", or similar things, is easier said than done and not realistic. I'd like to think that we could be a little more sensitive to that.
This isn't specific to this forum or to any specific members, by the way - I have seen similar things in most poly communities.
I would appreciate hearing your views on this.
Edit to add: I guess the additional question I would like to know is why do you care what the "global" definition is?
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Last edited by CielDuMatin; 01-03-2010 at 10:18 PM.