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  #1  
Old 01-02-2010, 04:13 AM
quila quila is offline
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Default No such thing as polyamorous relationship?

I knew that would get your attention... ;) Don't worry, I'm not here to attack anyone! :)

I've just been sitting here reading & pondering, and some things occur to me...

I believe that it's the PEOPLE, not the relationships, that are monogamous or polyamorous. Relationships themselves are exclusive or non-exclusive.

If a monogamous person falls head over heals in love with a polyamorous person, and the poly person says "look, I love you too, but I'm not going to give up my lifestyle to be with you" then that monogamous person may choose to enter a non-exclusive relationship. This does not make that person polyamorous.

If a polyamorous person falls head over heals with a monogamous person, and the monogamous person says "look, I love you, but I can't be with you if you're going to see other people" then the poly person may agree to enter an exclusive relationship. This does not make that person monogamous.

They're both between a poly person and a mono person, so how do you call one relationship polyamorous and the other monogamous? It makes more sense to me to call one non-exclusive and the other exclusive.

Putting aside the obvious fact that neither of these relationships is likely to last forever, neither is a total write-off. I've always been polyamorous, but I've been in both exclusive and non-exclusive relationships, depending on where I was at the time. Both types have been successful, meaning we had fun while they lasted and things ended on positive terms.

It seems that this approach side-steps the whole business of "our relationship is polyamorous because of this or that feature, but yours isn't because it lacks this or that feature."

If a relationship can be said to be polyamorous, I think it's because BOTH PEOPLE in the relationship are polyamorous, whether or not they're currently in love with any other people or having random sex with strangers. But I believe it's the presence of two polyamorous people in a relationship that makes it polyamorous, and not their relationships with other people.
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Old 01-02-2010, 04:34 AM
Ceoli Ceoli is offline
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Yeah, I'm going to disagree there.

Monogamy and polyamory can certainly be part of a person's identity (being wired to seek monogamous or poly relationships). However, for me, these terms are principally descriptors of relationship structures. They are parts of agreements between people who have relationships with each other.

In the case of a mono/poly relationship, there are two different relationships being described. When looking at all of the people attached to the relationship including metamours, it can certainly be described as poly. However, the nature of the relationship of the monogamous person to their partner can be described as monogamous from that person's POV if it doesn't involve anyone else for that person.

Again, I don't dispute that identity can play a part in this for many. But for me, the trouble is that when we tie too much of our identity into our relationship structures, it starts to create false divides between people and suggest more differences than there actually are.
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Old 01-02-2010, 07:19 AM
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Yeah, I'm going to disagree there.
Good! Life is boring when everyone agrees on everything!

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Monogamy and polyamory can certainly be part of a person's identity (being wired to seek monogamous or poly relationships). However, for me, these terms are principally descriptors of relationship structures. They are parts of agreements between people who have relationships with each other.

In the case of a mono/poly relationship, there are two different relationships being described. When looking at all of the people attached to the relationship including metamours, it can certainly be described as poly. However, the nature of the relationship of the monogamous person to their partner can be described as monogamous from that person's POV if it doesn't involve anyone else for that person.
So I'm guessing you would describe the exclusive mono/poly relationship as "monogamous" and the non-exclusive mono/poly relationship as "polyamorous" ?

Actually, when you say it out loud, "my relationship to you is monogamous, and your relationship to me is polyamorous" DOES make perfect sense... but I don't think it follows that "our relationship is polyamorous." I love analogies, so I'll use math... the relationship of 3 with respect to 4 is "smaller".. the relationship of 4 with respect to 3 is "bigger"... but it makes no sense to say "the relationship between 3 and 4 is bigger."

I do agree that when you're describing three+ people in some combination of romantic relationships, it makes more sense to talk about "the relationships" being, as a whole, poly... but I think when you're just talking about one couple of individuals who both self-identify as poly, and may or may not be "expressing" their polyamory, it makes more sense to talk about the people being poly than the relationship itself... IOW the collection of relationships become polyamorous as a whole, but no single pair-wise relationship is, by itself, poly...

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Again, I don't dispute that identity can play a part in this for many. But for me, the trouble is that when we tie too much of our identity into our relationship structures, it starts to create false divides between people and suggest more differences than there actually are.
But I'm pretty sure the mono people here would say that there ARE some very real differences between themselves and their poly partners. And the differences are innate to the people, not a product of the relationship structure.

I guess it's a "chicken or egg" situation... if you say "I'm in a poly relationship, therefore I am poly" it's much different from saying "I'm a poly person, and I'm in a relationship, therefore the relationship is poly" ... Yet, neither statement is true. It's not like the poly person is going to say "you identified as monogamous when we started dating, so you have to stay monogamous throughout our entire relationship" (unless they're a hypocritical jerk). Nor is the poly person going to say "You're all I desire at this point in my life, but I identify as polyamorous, so I have to go find another girlfriend."
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Old 01-02-2010, 08:44 AM
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Originally Posted by quila View Post
Good! Life is boring when everyone agrees on everything!
Awesome.

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I do agree that when you're describing three+ people in some combination of romantic relationships, it makes more sense to talk about "the relationships" being, as a whole, poly... but I think when you're just talking about one couple of individuals who both self-identify as poly, and may or may not be "expressing" their polyamory, it makes more sense to talk about the people being poly than the relationship itself... IOW the collection of relationships become polyamorous as a whole, but no single pair-wise relationship is, by itself, poly...
This is an intriguing line of thought. I’m interested to see where it leads.
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Old 01-02-2010, 12:19 PM
Ceoli Ceoli is offline
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But I'm pretty sure the mono people here would say that there ARE some very real differences between themselves and their poly partners. And the differences are innate to the people, not a product of the relationship structure.
Sure there are differences. Monogamous people fall in love with one person at a time and polyamorous people can fall in love with more than one person at a time. Are there more differences than that?

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I guess it's a "chicken or egg" situation... if you say "I'm in a poly relationship, therefore I am poly" it's much different from saying "I'm a poly person, and I'm in a relationship, therefore the relationship is poly" ... Yet, neither statement is true. It's not like the poly person is going to say "you identified as monogamous when we started dating, so you have to stay monogamous throughout our entire relationship" (unless they're a hypocritical jerk). Nor is the poly person going to say "You're all I desire at this point in my life, but I identify as polyamorous, so I have to go find another girlfriend."
I suppose that's an issue if you let the relationship structure you're part of define your identity. I just don't see the need to do that. For me, those words describe my relationships more than they describe me. However, like I said, that doesn't mean that identity isn't part of the equation. It's just a matter of what's driving what.
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Old 01-02-2010, 03:58 PM
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I do think that I have a polyamorous nature, and that I'm not inclined toward monogamy. This wasn't always the case. I've changed. After my first love relationship crumbled, something fundamentally shifted in my heart and soul. I'll never again expect that any single person or relationship can fulfill all of my needs for intmacy and loving. So far as I can tell. And that is in no way suggestive that I can't love fully. I can.

I'm capable of monogamy. It's just not my preference. Is it an orientation more than a preference? I suppose it is. Hmm.

So, yeah, I think I'm a poly person. And I'm not sure it matters so much that we all agree on how to use language to define or describe our relationships. That is, if there is a poly person and a mono person together in a relationship, I'd say let them decide whether the relationship is poly or whatever. For some, it will be important to define the relationship as poly. Great! Let 'em. Others won't define it that way because some member/s of the grouping are mono. Fine. Whatever.

I'm willing to be persuaded that I'm missing some important point in my response. I'm just trying to find the most respectful approach to the question -- and, frankly, I'm not sure it matters much how folks settle it.

One thing does seem clear enough to me, however. Some people are poly -- whether or not they are involved in "romantic" relationships and whether or not they have multiple partners. I'm definitely poly, but I have only one partner! At the moment.
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Old 01-03-2010, 01:24 AM
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Quote:
I do think that I have a polyamorous nature, and that I'm not inclined toward monogamy. This wasn't always the case. I've changed. After my first love relationship crumbled, something fundamentally shifted in my heart and soul. I'll never again expect that any single person or relationship can fulfill all of my needs for intmacy and loving. So far as I can tell. And that is in no way suggestive that I can't love fully. I can.
Wow. Kind of had to reread to be sure I hadn't written this myself and forgotten! So true in my life!

Quote:
I'm capable of monogamy. It's just not my preference. Is it an orientation more than a preference? I suppose it is. Hmm.
Hmm, good food for thought here. I have to say I think my being poly is much like my being bi. As someone else said-even if I am currently not in a relationship with a woman-I am still bi despite my two heterosexual relationships.

Quote:
One thing does seem clear enough to me, however. Some people are poly -- whether or not they are involved in "romantic" relationships and whether or not they have multiple partners. I'm definitely poly, but I have only one partner! At the moment.
Agreed agreed agreed.
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Old 01-02-2010, 04:36 AM
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That is a terrific breakdown and one that I feel is accurate. I simply identify as being in a multi-partner relationship, but you did a great job!
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Old 01-02-2010, 04:43 AM
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I would tend to agree with you, Quila - my monogamous partner would never ever self-identify as polyamorous or polyfidelitous (is that the right word?) but we are in a non-exclusive relationship. When I have tried to use the term poly to described our relationship she has been very strongly against that.

I think that what you wrote there does a great job of describing my reality, and has helped me sort something out that had been bugging me.

So thank you!
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Old 01-02-2010, 04:44 AM
Ceoli Ceoli is offline
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I guess I just don't see how the structure of one's relationship infringes on how they identify. So why the need to not use the word to describe the structure?
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