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  #11  
Old 04-12-2012, 12:36 PM
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If you use polyamory to mean any type of love, whether it's Agápe, Éros, Philia, or Storge (to use the Greek model) - in other words if you include the love of family, pets and possessions, then it devalues the term to make it completely useless, in my opinion.

Most people in the poly community define it as a romantic love of some sort, which often includes sexual aspects. And it is this love type which distinguishes polyamory from monogamy, which makes it useful as a descriptive term.

The problem with the perennially-occurring "we are all poly" statement is that it usually only serves to alienate and upset folks who don't feel the same way about romantic love and who feel that, by being put in the same pot, they are being told that it's somehow unnatural to only want one person romantically in their lives.
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  #12  
Old 04-12-2012, 01:47 PM
InfinitePossibility InfinitePossibility is offline
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Thanks, kdt26417. The differences in definition are interesting.

I suppose that one of my reasons for asking is that so often I think we (at least in Western society) are encouraged to see romantic and familial love as the only kinds that count. And for most of us, as we get older, familial love is meant to include our own children.

I think that devalues the love that people have for friends and pets. And the love that their friends and pets return.

These tend to be seen as lesser types of love and so often we are encouraged to move away from them and toward romantic love and having our own children (or at least that was my experience of spending a long period during my child bearing years free from any romantic entanglements).

My opinion is that all sorts of love are to be valued and I think I would lean toward an inclusive definition of polyamoury. I have an enormous amount of enthusiasm for recognising and valuing all loving relationships - and recognising just how much love there is around us. I think that's what polyamoury means to me. Inclusive, abundant love.

For me - not monogamous I think is how I would describe not being monogamous. Maybe?
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  #13  
Old 04-12-2012, 04:18 PM
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These tend to be seen as lesser types of love and so often we are encouraged to move away from them and toward romantic love and having our own children (or at least that was my experience of spending a long period during my child bearing years free from any romantic entanglements).
Oh yes, I totally agree with you - this whole "ranking" of what we should be moving towards to be "better people" is pretty abhorrent, by my way of thinking.

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Originally Posted by InfinitePossibility View Post
My opinion is that all sorts of love are to be valued and I think I would lean toward an inclusive definition of polyamoury. I have an enormous amount of enthusiasm for recognising and valuing all loving relationships - and recognising just how much love there is around us. I think that's what polyamoury means to me. Inclusive, abundant love.
And by that definition, then yes, everyone is polyamorous. I just don't share your opinion.


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Originally Posted by InfinitePossibility View Post
For me - not monogamous I think is how I would describe not being monogamous. Maybe?
Then by your definition, though, everyone is "not monogamous", no?

So... maybe putting that value of love question aside for a while, and assuming that different types of love each have their own value, there are elements of our society that desire/need/want more than one romantic/sexual love in their lives, and there are others that don't. They need a shorthand way to describe this, as is the requirement of language. What would you propose they use to make this distinction?
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  #14  
Old 04-12-2012, 05:25 PM
InfinitePossibility InfinitePossibility is offline
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So... maybe putting that value of love question aside for a while, and assuming that different types of love each have their own value, there are elements of our society that desire/need/want more than one romantic/sexual love in their lives, and there are others that don't. They need a shorthand way to describe this, as is the requirement of language. What would you propose they use to make this distinction?

Hmmm - I'm not convinced that there is a distinction to be made (or at least, not one).

There are some people who only want one romantic/sexual love in their lives and who will drop other relationships when they have that. One of my friends has a pal like that - when the pal is single, they spend lots of time together and are very close. When she's with somebody they don't - she places her full attention on her romantic love. I try to avoid being friends with people like that!

There are some people who want only one romantic/sexual love and who will have close friendships with lots of other people. Others will have close friendships but not with the gender they attracted to. Others might have close friendships but only with long-term friends and making new friends are out of the question.

Some might have one romantic love but be closer to a platonic friend. Or closer to their dog. Or closer to a group of friends.

Same really with people who have more than one romantic love.

And these might change for the same person over time.

I've spent time where I've had more than one romantic/sexual love but was emotionally much closer to a platonic friend (that's been a bit of a pattern for me and tended to suit me very well I think).

Then I had a single romantic/sexual love and almost no platonic friends (made me miserable, sadly. I say sadly because my love is an amazing person).

Now I have a single romantic/sexual love who I am emotionally attached to and lots of platonic friends some of whom are emotionally close to me and some of whom are less so.

If I'm asked, what I say to people now is that for the moment, I'm having sex only with my love as we have stuff we need to sort out. And that maybe that'll change in the future. And that if they want to be platonic friends, I'd be very happy about it.

Doesn't take that long to say and describes the situation much more accurately than saying we are monogamous or polyamorous - neither label really fits.

And of course, the other good thing about being a bit more accurate in describing the situation is that it lessens (a bit) the risk of misunderstanding.

Thanks so much for the thought provoking replies.

IP
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  #15  
Old 04-12-2012, 07:48 PM
km34 km34 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by InfinitePossibility View Post
I suppose that one of my reasons for asking is that so often I think we (at least in Western society) are encouraged to see romantic and familial love as the only kinds that count. And for most of us, as we get older, familial love is meant to include our own children.

I think that devalues the love that people have for friends and pets. And the love that their friends and pets return.

These tend to be seen as lesser types of love and so often we are encouraged to move away from them and toward romantic love and having our own children (or at least that was my experience of spending a long period during my child bearing years free from any romantic entanglements).
Personally, my pets and close friends are including in my family love. My friends come to family functions, they are there for me when I need them, they support me. They ARE family. Pets are also included in family - they are like my children.

The only time I've ever been encouraged to move away from friends is when they have obviously been bad for me - the people who have no respect for other's needs or feelings. If my friends are good people, then my family and romantic interests have ALWAYS supported my friendships. I suppose I'm not understanding how we're encouraged to move away from them. Sure, focus is often put on family (romantic relationships and then children) but I feel like that is because those relationships require tons of time. It doesn't mean we're supposed to drop our friends.

Quote:
My opinion is that all sorts of love are to be valued and I think I would lean toward an inclusive definition of polyamoury. I have an enormous amount of enthusiasm for recognising and valuing all loving relationships - and recognising just how much love there is around us. I think that's what polyamoury means to me. Inclusive, abundant love.

For me - not monogamous I think is how I would describe not being monogamous. Maybe?
I also disagree with the inclusive definition because polyamory has always been used to denote romantic love and not the other forms. Are the other loves still important? Of course! But everyone does love more than one person in that way, not everyone loves more than one person romantically (either by choice or by nature). If you try to change the definition or connotation of polyamory, then you need to figure out a new term for multiple romantic loves (and I mean "you" in general, not "you" personally ).

Also - I read somewhere that the reason that many people don't like to use "nonmonogamous" as a descriptor is because that shows that monogamy is the norm and poly is abnormal. Most people don't want to think of it as abnormal, they want to think of it as a viable alternative. Polyamory doesn't include that negative prefix so it feels like a more positive descriptor.
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  #16  
Old 04-12-2012, 10:46 PM
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Re (from CielDuMatin, Post #11):
Quote:
"If you use polyamory to mean any type of love, whether it's Agápe, Éros, Philia, or Storge (to use the Greek model) -- in other words if you include the love of family, pets and possessions, then it devalues the term to make it completely useless, in my opinion."
LOL, can't say I entirely disagree ... (We already have an all-purpose word for love ... namely, the word "love.")

Re (from CielDuMatin, Post #11):
Quote:
"The problem with the perennially-occurring 'we are all poly' statement is that it usually only serves to alienate and upset folks who don't feel the same way about romantic love and who feel that, by being put in the same pot, they are being told that it's somehow unnatural to only want one person romantically in their lives."
Yes, I agree that's a problem.

I know that some people do believe that all people are inherently poly, and that's using the (more standard) romantic/sexual definition of the word. Can't say I *know* that they're wrong, but I *believe* that at least *some* people are naturally/internally monogamous. (The jury's out as to how much effect social conditioning has on the true-versus-apparent number of inherently poly people. And of course it's true that one's monogamous-or-polyamorous inclinations may change over time.)

I don't mean to say that monogamous people "don't belong to our club" or shouldn't be included. I just recognize that various people have their diversity from each other, and I value that diversity. It's one of the reasons why it's beneficial to get together with other people; their differences from us are something that can bring out the best in us. (Hope that made some sense.)

Re (from InfinitePossibility, Post #12):
Quote:
"For me -- not monogamous I think is how I would describe not being monogamous. Maybe?"
Perhaps. There are some people who actually equate the word "polyamory" with "non-monogamy," or at least, with "responsible non-monogamy." But non-monogamy can include quite a range of things, including swinging, which is different from (the standard definition of) polyamory (although there is overlap). Polyamory is more of an emotionally-involved version of non-monogamy; swinging tends to avoid any emotional entanglements (except between primary partners). I personally tend to see poly and swing as both related to sex, but just differing in how they focus on emotional attachments.

Wikipedia says the following about Morning Glory Zell-Ravenheart (who is generally credited with originally having coined the word "polyamorous"):
Quote:
"In 1999, Morning Glory Zell-Ravenheart was asked by the editor of the Oxford English Dictionary to provide a definition of [polyamory] (which the dictionary had not previously recognised). Her definition was:
Quote:
'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. This term was meant to be inclusive, and in that context, we have never intended to particularly exclude "swinging" per se, if practitioners thereof wished to adopt the term and include themselves ... The two essential ingredients of the concept of polyamory are more than one; and loving. That is, it is expected that the people in such relationships have a loving emotional bond, are involved in each other's lives multi-dimensionally, and care for each other. 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.'"
Re (from InfinitePossibility, Post #12):
Quote:
"I suppose that one of my reasons for asking is that so often I think we (at least in Western society) are encouraged to see romantic and familial love as the only kinds that count ... I think that devalues the love that people have for friends and pets. And the love that their friends and pets return."
Well, yes, I would think it would be a bad idea to give one kind of love more reverence than the other. One can have very meaningful relationships outside the romantic/familial kind.

Re (from InfinitePossibility, Post #12):
Quote:
"These tend to be seen as lesser types of love and so often we are encouraged to move away from them and toward romantic love and having our own children (or at least that was my experience of spending a long period during my child bearing years free from any romantic entanglements)."
Well whoever was "encouraging" you in that direction wasn't being very respectful of your choices on how to express and realize love in your life.

Polyamory and monogamy are sometimes thought of as being two sides of a sliding scale. That us, most people aren't "completely monogamous" or "completely polyamorous;" they're maybe "somewhat monogamous" and "quite a bit polyamorous" or something to that effect. There's even a word for that (sliding scale), it's called the Lorax scale (comparable to the Kinsey scale, which estimates the degrees to which one is gay or straight).

As always, polyamory is defined in a wide variety of ways by many different people, and I guess that's okay too. Just so we all know what our definitions are when we talk to each other using the word in question.
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  #17  
Old 04-20-2012, 08:29 AM
InfinitePossibility InfinitePossibility is offline
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I've been carrying on thinking about this. And I suppose that for me, it's the fact that polyamoury is unusual (and often disapproved of) in much of society that makes me wonder if it might be useful to see it as more inclusive??

I'm still kind of thinking this through so it might not be terribly coherent.

It seems to me that lots of people who do identify as poly have to work through issues with envy, insecurity etc. Not surprisingly really - given the way most of us are brought up to look at romantic love. You know - as something special, where you find your one true love and forsake all others for them. Most of us grow up and when grown up continue to live in a society where we are drip fed these ideas on a daily basis from the media, from fiction, from our friends and families.

So - no wonder people wanting to live differently find it hard. I just sometimes wonder if changing how we talk about and think about love might help? Maybe not.

If romantic love can be seen as to do with emotional intimacy, caring, a desire to connect with the other person, then I find it hard to understand why that doesn't include close platonic friendships.

It seems to me that it's fairly easy to accept that any one of us might have more than one emotionally intimate, caring, committed relationship with somebody we'd describe as a friend. The difference is that we don't call that romance.

But why not? Maybe the not doing so isn't so helpful? Maybe if we were more used to talking about those relationships as romantic, it wouldn't seem so threatening to have more than one romantic and sexual relationship?

And people might start to see more love in the world. More ways of expressing it and of living it (other than the whole, meet, date for a while, get married, move in together type thing that seems to be the norm).

I suppose that for me, the term polyamoury is a bit useful - as a short way of maybe starting a discussion about relationships.

But other than that, I reckon that describing yourself as poly is a bit like describing yourself as a human being.

But discussion is required because our perceptions of what it means to be human are so affected by the society we live in.

Interesting stuff to think through.

IP
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  #18  
Old 04-20-2012, 08:52 AM
km34 km34 is offline
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Originally Posted by InfinitePossibility View Post
It seems to me that lots of people who do identify as poly have to work through issues with envy, insecurity etc. Not surprisingly really - given the way most of us are brought up to look at romantic love. You know - as something special, where you find your one true love and forsake all others for them. Most of us grow up and when grown up continue to live in a society where we are drip fed these ideas on a daily basis from the media, from fiction, from our friends and families.

So - no wonder people wanting to live differently find it hard. I just sometimes wonder if changing how we talk about and think about love might help? Maybe not.
I'm sure it would change if the way people talked about love changed, but that won't happen until there is a majority that feels that polyamory/multiple romantic partners is the preferred relationship model. Do you see that happening anytime soon? I don't.

Quote:
If romantic love can be seen as to do with emotional intimacy, caring, a desire to connect with the other person, then I find it hard to understand why that doesn't include close platonic friendships.

It seems to me that it's fairly easy to accept that any one of us might have more than one emotionally intimate, caring, committed relationship with somebody we'd describe as a friend. The difference is that we don't call that romance.

But why not? Maybe the not doing so isn't so helpful? Maybe if we were more used to talking about those relationships as romantic, it wouldn't seem so threatening to have more than one romantic and sexual relationship?
Romance to me includes more than emotional intimacy, caring, and commitment. Romance is the feeling of butterflies in your stomach just thinking about the other person's touch. It's the aching you have for that person when he/she isn't around. It's the way that I feel more complete when I am interacting with that person.

For me, there is a difference between a friendship and a romance. Sure, they can and often do overlap, but I can have friends for whom I don't have romantic feelings.

Quote:
And people might start to see more love in the world. More ways of expressing it and of living it (other than the whole, meet, date for a while, get married, move in together type thing that seems to be the norm).
I agree with you that people should acknowledge the fact that friendships provide love and support. My family, though, always has so I don't see the widespread stigma against loving someone besides your spouse that you see, I guess.

Quote:
I suppose that for me, the term polyamoury is a bit useful - as a short way of maybe starting a discussion about relationships.

But other than that, I reckon that describing yourself as poly is a bit like describing yourself as a human being.

But discussion is required because our perceptions of what it means to be human are so affected by the society we live in.

Interesting stuff to think through.

IP
It is interesting. I'm glad you started this.
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  #19  
Old 04-20-2012, 12:33 PM
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I'm sure it would change if the way people talked about love changed, but that won't happen until there is a majority that feels that polyamory/multiple romantic partners is the preferred relationship model. Do you see that happening anytime soon? I don't.
Could I possibly venture a modification to this that may achieve the same result, but not dismiss monogamy as a viable relationship model? To my mind, we don't need to have poly as a preferred relationship model, but we do need it to have parity with monogamy. I get a bit leery when we talk about poly using words like "superior" or "more evolved", which I have seen in other places, and struggle with that, because I really do respect those that have made monogamy work for them, and don't want to denigrate them or their relationships.

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For me, there is a difference between a friendship and a romance. Sure, they can and often do overlap, but I can have friends for whom I don't have romantic feelings.
Yes, exactly.
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  #20  
Old 04-20-2012, 03:37 PM
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I agree with the observation that most people have multiple meaningful relationships.

But identifying as poly is a choice.

Lots of people could be described as fitting one or more of the definitions of poly, but it is up to the individual as to whether or not they don the label.

But yes. I am sure, many a bromance, if looked at in a different light, could be seen as a life long, committed partnership.
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