I really vacillated between, "I have open relationships, but there are some limits," and "No, I have closed relationships." I almost should have said, "I'm not sure," or, "Other," but I didn't want to be that vague.
You see, "open" and "closed" have a number of different definitions in poly vernacular. Let me share with you the three that I'm aware of:
- Open = any responsible non-monogamous relationship.
- Open = it's okay to have sex outside our committed poly circle.
- Open = we are open to the idea of adding a new person to our committed poly circle.
- Closed = monogamous relationships.
- Closed = we limit sexual activities to within our committed poly circle.
- Closed = we will never add another person to our committed poly circle.
Some people even use multiple definitions of the word. And of course, as per the dictionary, there are already lots of meanings for "open" and "closed." Open could mean "open-minded," for instance. It could mean "willing to try something new." It could mean "frank and candid about one's thoughts and feelings." It could mean "outgoing."
In the end I picked "I have open relationships, but there are some limits," reason being, my V is open to the idea of adding a new partner to our committed circle, however, we are "closed" to the idea of having sex outside our committed circle. Sometimes this is called "polyfidelitous."
Usually, I associate "no limits at all" with the idea of "relationship anarchy." Works great for some, just not for my particular V. Sorry if that offends, but we are rather conservative compared to a lot of polyamorists.
We definitely don't have a hierarchy. All three of us are primary partners. And if we added a new partner, they'd be a primary too.
We don't consider love to be a limited commodity; we're just cautious/conservative about having sex. No limitations against falling in love with new people though.
I largely based my "limitations" on the limitations that my partners wanted. I could probably be more "free-spirited" if I wanted, but I guess I prefer to live harmoniously with my two V companions.
We had various kinds of struggles in our early years together (as a poly unit). Perhaps the biggest thing we worked out is that if someone does start seeing someone new, they keep the whole V in the loop and, for example, emails aren't really secret, they are rather "carbon copied."
As for time limitations, everyone has time limitations of one kind or another. My V doesn't make a big deal about that problem, not yet, anyway. If we added someone new to our circle, I guess we would want to work out our schedules so it seemed fair to everybody.
Love sounds like such a wonderful thing; why put limits on it? I guess I'm somewhat of a pragmatist. Human beings are a particular species that do put limits on virtually all aspects of their lives. Does that make us a stuck-up, neurotic species? I don't know.
In practical terms, there are some benefits to being careful about how one spreads around one's time or one's sexual activities. So I guess that's why we agree on limits to such things.
As always, I can easily talk more, but at this moment I'm due to go get dinner.