Suggested list of titles for people you have sex and/or romance with, starting with the least emotional/life involvement and proceeding down to the most emotional/life involvement:
- one night stands,
- fuck buddies,
- friends with benefits,
- lover friends,
- boyfriends and girlfriends,
- steady boyfriends and girlfriends,
- fiancés and fiancées,
- spouses and heart spouses.
Presumably, anything above boyfriend/girlfriend (on the list) is *not*
a relationship, while anything below lover friends (on the list) *is*
Would the "relationship titles" potentially be poly (versus monogamous) titles, while all the "non-relationship titles" would necessarily stop short of being poly (though they could still be non-monogamous titles)?
And perhaps, if you're not in a relationship, you're not in love, whereas if you are in a relationship, you are in love?
Re: Morning Glory Zell-Ravenheart ... is the woman generally credited with coining the word polyamory. In 1999, the editor of the Oxford English Dictionary was contemplating adding polyamory to that dictionary. S/he asked Morning Glory Zell-Ravenheart to provide a definition for the term.
Morning Glory and her husband Oberon published their response on their website ...
... as follows:
"The practice, state or ability of having more than one sexual loving relationship at the same time, with the full knowledge and consent of all partners involved."
The clause "full knowledge and consent" suffices to disclude hidden affairs (cheating). However the Zell-Ravenhearts added some comments to their definition ...
... including the following note:
"This term is not intended to apply to merely casual recreational sex, anonymous orgies, one-night stands, pick-ups, prostitution, 'cheating,' serial monogamy, or the popular definition of swinging as 'mate-swapping' parties."
You may say, "Screw the so-called coiner of the word. If I want to include cheating and prostitution when I talk about polyamory, then that's what I'll do." And you may do exactly that. The Zell-Ravenhearts have no special authority to punish you (and I doubt they'd use it if they had it). But you should be aware of their definition, since the mother of all English dictionaries deferred to them (before adding polyamory to the Oxford Dictionary in 2006).
I happen to know (from various past threads on this topic, on a couple of poly forums) that more than a few polyamorists do indeed think cheating belongs under the polyamorous heading. I think the majority discludes cheating, but, especially since the "other team" appears to be of considerable size, I will readily discuss polyamory with cheating (and prostitution) included if the person I'm talking to lets me know that they prefer the more inclusive definition. My standard procedure, though, as long as I don't know any different, is to assume that the consensus of the conversing group is to disclude cheating (from the scope and definition of poly).
It is what it is. I can't control how other people define this or that word, regardless of my own preferences, and if I'm going to engage in a conversation with someone, I'd like it to be a coherent conversation. That can't happen if people can't agree on some basic definitions. So, I do whatever I think will add the most clarity to whatever's being discussed.
If you want my official vote: it is to require "full knowledge and consent" to qualify for polyamory. I'll just add that I'm not passionate about that opinion, and I'll even say that "a cheater may be poly at heart."
Re: labels ... let's do away with them? I vote no. I believe that every word in every language is a label. Do people misuse labels? Certainly. But sweeping them out of our lives won't solve the problem. As much as I hate nitpicking debates about poly semantics, I think we're going to see more of those debates until we get it right. Getting it right means coming to a consensus about reasonable, workable words and definitions. We can table any discussion that gets too heated, but the issues aren't going to evaporate. Someday, they'll have to be discussed in a way that leads us to some kind of agreement, about definitions that everyone (or darn near everyone) can stand. That may mean we're all gonna have to be willing to compromise on some things. I don't know. We'll have to see. In the meantime, a functional system of poly terminology remains very much a work in progress.
Re (from MeeraReed
"I'm definitely in the latter category! Still looking! Still confused about labels!"
Meera, I think I'm exactly where I want to be as far as (my poly) relationships are concerned, and yet I'm sure I'm as confused about labels as you are (or were at that point in the thread). Some people feel that all the important questions about poly terminology have been answered. But that's not how I feel.
Sorry if this post wandered around a lot. I wanted to respond to a lot of different things in this thread. I don't mean to write Scripture anywhere here, just kind of thinking out loud throughout this post.