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  #21  
Old 04-20-2012, 06:44 PM
km34 km34 is offline
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Originally Posted by CielDuMatin View Post
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.
Sure. I wasn't trying to say that one way is better than the other. I didn't say poly is superior or more evolved. I am just saying without a massive shift in people's views on relationship models (so that monogamously isn't the only way to live without drawing attention and/or criticism), I don't see a shift in the views of love happening.

I'm guessing the word preferred gave you the negative vibe? Preferred, to me, doesn't mean superior. Some people prefer chocolate milkshakes whereas I'll take a strawberry one any day. Doesn't make me superior to them, I just prefer a different flavor. I definitely see where you're coming from, though.
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  #22  
Old 04-21-2012, 04:51 AM
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Historically, people have often had a tendancy to "pick out a minority group" and "pick on the minority group." The classic case is of racial hatred, but it goes further back in time than that. People who were out of line with the Church were once "witches" and "heretics," and as such were fit to be burned at the stake. Or there were those strange heathen nations to the south, populating the Holy Lands with their infidels. Even today we're at war with those same Middle-Eastern lands, and much is said that is unflattering about their culture and religion. Our justification? that they produced terrorists and took American lives. And those terrorists' justification? that American culture and religion is foreign (and unholy/repugnant) to them. People are known to kill on the basis of other people being different.

So it is good to recognize what we have in common with each other. We have friends and families, and children we care about. We give and receive love.

Monogamy is a choice about sexual lifestyle, but it can often have a cultural/religious component as well. Non-monogamists are a "sexual minority," as are homosexuals (who are stringently forbidden to marry in the vast majority of the United States). Many right-wing monogamists are intently focused on what makes "them" different from "us;" it's like a type of fervor that keeps them going.

So it would be nice if people would think a little more about what we have in common. Homosexual people aren't so very different; they have feelings and heartaches just like "the rest of us" (as well as a desire to be responsible and do good). Likewise monogamists and non-monogamists are similar in that both groups "love many people." The sexual element of that love is sometimes different, but the caring, committed, intimate part is basically the same.

I would like to see an end to the bickering and non-acceptance people direct at each other over their differences. Truly I would. But I consider "changing words so as to mask those differences" to be going too far. It's not wrong for us to realize that some of us are monogamous; others aren't. That's the whole point in fact; our differences should be cause for celebration, and differing groups of people should be getting together to edify and enrich each other. So I don't mind using language that admits our differences.

There are monogamists, and non-monogamists. Among non-monogamous, there are some who are sexually non-monogamous but emotionally monogamous, a group that generally classifies itself as "swinging." And there are also non-monogamists who are sexually non-monogamous and romantically non-monogamous as well. Most of the people within that group call it "polyamory." This doesn't make monogamy, swinging, or polyamory right or wrong, nor does it make any group better than another. It just means that along with the things we have in common, there are also things that make us different, and that's okay.

The word "polyamory" certainly says something about love. But in most cases, it also says something about sex. It was coined with the intent of being both an emotional and a sexual word. Not all polyamorists are having sex; after all, polyamory is largely a state of mind. But that state of mind is usually understood to have something to do with sex (as well as something to do with love).

Re (from InfinitePossibility, Post #17):
Quote:
"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?"
The thing is, the romantic/sexual aspect of polyamory is what rubs so many monogamists the wrong way, and it's that romantic/sexual aspect that polyamorists generally would like to be accepted for. So if we go with the prescriptive definition of just letting polyamory refer to any kind of love, then, sure, the word "polyamory" will get more acceptance, but the nature of having multiple romantic/sexual partners will remain as unpopular as ever. Most people already understand the basic idea that "love is good," but applying that to multiple romantic/sexual relationships is a whole other ballgame. So we could win the war of getting the word "polyamory" accepted, but that wouldn't get us any closer to winning the war of getting the "peculiar" lovestyle accepted, and it's that latter war that we're trying to win.

Polyamory (the romantic/sexual kind) is relatively new in modern society. People haven't been exposed to it, nor taught to see it as a viable alternative to monogamy. Monogamy is very strongly reinforced as the only good/healthy relationship model (where sex and romance are concerned). It's this training in exclusive monogamous thinking that we're trying to get past, and I expect that to be a hurdle that will take many generations to surmount.

Changing the definition of "polyamory" to be the same as the definition of "love" would almost be like trying to hide the fact that we are all about romantic/sexual love. Of course we support other kinds of love too, but we call ourselves "polyamorous" because we do, in all honesty, differ from the "monogamous" lovestyle. If highlighting that was a problem, then I'd suggest we just call ourselves "loving" (since everyone already knows what that means) and call our lovestyle "love." But I don't think we get any closer to true acceptance if we just try to draw the world's attention away from who we uniquely are. The whole point is to be accepted for who we uniquely are, not for an out-of-focus version of ourselves.

I don't think the lack of acceptance is due to any popular misperception that we're opposed to friendship-love, or that we look down on friendship-love in any way. I don't think people generally see us like that. The acceptance problem, I think, stems from the fact that people consider it dirty/unhealthy to have more than one romantic/sexual partner. It's in the midst of that perception that the real war is being fought, and I don't expect that changing the definition of the word would relocate the war. It might delay the outcome, by confusing the issue, but it wouldn't change the outcome. "Polyamory" is just a word ... a symbol. The war is being fought over an ideology. Whatever word (or combination of words) is used to describe that ideology, the war remains the same.

It's nice to think that we could point out that love is good, that love is universal, and have that point lead people into accepting our multiple-romantic-partner lifestyles. Alas, the reality has not supported that simple ideal, and though it may sound cynical for me to say it, I don't expect that the reality will support that ideal ... not until the acceptance of multiple romantic/sexual relationships has already been obtained (on its own merits). Word manipulation (even the kind that sounds nice in theory) just isn't the way I think we will get there in practice. Sorry to have to say it.
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Last edited by kdt26417; 04-21-2012 at 04:54 AM.
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  #23  
Old 04-21-2012, 04:51 AM
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Re (from InfinitePossibility, Post #17):
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."
You could say that it does ... but then listen to what you'd be saying. You'd be saying that close platonic friendships are a type of romantic love. The irony here is that the words "platonic" and "romantic" are commonly employed as express opposites of one another. You could say they're both love, but one is (some type of) platonic love, and the other is romantic love. Or, one is a platonic emotional intimacy, caring, and desire to connect with the other person, and the other is a romantic emotional intimacy, caring, and desire to connect with the other person. That's the difference: the "platonic" and "romantic" part.

Unless you want to say that platonic love *is* romantic love. And you can say that. There's no enforceable law that's stopping you. It's just that in order to convince other people to follow suit, you'd have to make a strong case for love as a word that shouldn't be distinguished or divided into different kinds of love.

The solution, here, that you're looking for, is to have "love" be the only word we use for any kind of love (be it romantic or platonic), and that we shouldn't be differentiating individual *kinds* of love at all. Sure we could add the word "polyamory" to that ideal, and make it be defined in the same way that the word "love" is, but wouldn't that be redundant? Why not just refer to all loving relationships as "love," and leave it at that?

The only logic I could see to that is if polyamory referred to an "extra loving" sort of love (and not just any old regular love). You could do that, but you'd still be stuck with the problem that the romantic aspect of multiple relationships is the thing society doesn't accept about us. It's not the word polyamory they take issue with; it's the concept behind it. Again, changing the word's meaning would draw attention away from the "romantic + multiple" problem, but it wouldn't solve the problem.

Re (from InfinitePossibility, Post #17):
Quote:
"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?"
Same problem there as changing the definition of "polyamory." You could use "romantic love" to mean any kind of love (or any kind of particularly intimate love), but it's the sexual part of our multiple relationships that people don't like, and that reality wouldn't change. It's like trying to solve a problem by making words assume meanings that mask the problem (the problem being that people don't want us to have multiple sexual relationships with each other).

The word "polyamory" is occasionally used to mean any kind of love (or any kind of intimate, committed love), and I don't mind it having that occasional usage. I just recognize what I've observed over my own past six years of reading books, articles, forum posts, etc. ... that polyamory is usually (I'd say at least 90% of the time) used to denote multiple (ethical) romantic/sexual relationships.

I keep an eye out for the exceptions to the rule, but unless I can see a need for clarification, I usually assume when I hear the word "polyamory" that the person using it is doing so in the usual sense. I think most people operate on a similar assumption, and, chicken though it may make me, I seldom "fight the tide" when I speak the word myself. Its common definition is well enough established that I find that using the alternate/prescriptive definition can create confusion (and hamper communication by scrambling words). Polyamory has been associated with sexuality (or sexuality plus the emotional aspect) since the time it was coined. The original intention was to use it to talk about (one aspect of) sex, and that intention has remained intact for the most part.

I think it would be very hard to get people to consider sex a "minor detail" next to the emotional element of monogamy, polyamory, or romance (even if it is or should be a minor detail). A traditional monogamous marriage is all about taking vows to have sex with no one except one's legally/lawfully-wedded spouse. People have strong religious beliefs about that. In order to get people to make sex a non-issue in defining words like monogamy, polyamory, romance, and love, I think you'd first have to get people to make sex a non-issue in the referents behind monogamy, polyamory, romance, and love. It's a chicken/egg situation. I don't think changing the words would change people's attitudes, any faster than changing people's attitudes might change their definitions of the words. And by the time people's attitudes have changed, the important battle has been won.

Beyond that, polyamorists (or romantically-entangled responsible non-monogamists if you prefer) are infamous for their inability to agree on words and meanings. It's an interesting exercise to contemplate what might be accomplished if we all got on the same page about a certain word (or a certain set of words). But that kind of unification isn't very likely to happen in real life. It's enough, for me, that polyamorists get together, greet each other in a spirit of goodwill, and talk with each other about their thoughts and feelings. It's wonderful that we can do that, given how different we all are. I hope we can enrich and edify each other; in most cases I think we do. It's that coming together, and celebrating the diversity of the whole, that gives me hope that love -- in all its wonderful variety of shapes and forms -- will eventually triumph.
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Old 04-21-2012, 08:24 AM
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I have committed friendships which are born of enduring the hardships and joys of life together. I have a committed friendship with a sex partner, with whom the friendship transcends the sex. I have a committed marriage, which is all inclusive: friend, lover, partner, life mate. I have a romantic relationship with an OSO... and that is the tricky one. I actually hold that relationship to pretty high standards. I love my friends. I love my friend I happen to have sex with, but sex is not a fundamental ingredient. The husband... goes without say. The OSO is the only person, other than my husband, whom I'll allow to impact me in certain ways. He's the only one, besides my husband, who's really close enough to hurt me, if there's a disconnect. My friends whom I love, even the one I occasionally get to enjoy sexually, will never get that close. There are pieces of my heart which are simply inaccessible to them. I can tell them about those pieces, but they can't manipulate them. It's how I tick. Romantic love, to me, isn't about candles and moonlight. It's about exposing the tender pieces of yourself. It's about risk. It's not a continuum. It's a standing, a place earned and not easily shaken.
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  #25  
Old 04-21-2012, 04:56 PM
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@kdt26417 - well-written!

I think I need to highlight what is to me the major point you are making - we are trying to get the concept of multiple simultaneous romantic/sexual relationships to be accepted by society as a valid and healthy for of relationship, not the word "polyamory".

Redefining the word thus doesn't go any distance towards getting anything that I would suggest we really care about accepted.
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Old 04-21-2012, 08:33 PM
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Re:
Quote:
"@kdt26417 -- well-written!"
Thx.

Re:
Quote:
"We are trying to get the *concept* of multiple simultaneous romantic/sexual relationships to be accepted by society as a valid and healthy form of relationship, not the *word* 'polyamory.'"
Exactly.
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  #27  
Old 04-22-2012, 06:17 AM
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I definitely think polyamory is the natural state of mind for benevolent, rational human beings. There is a lot of proof, logically, if you look for it. The problem is that philosophically, moral relativism is the model that 99% of us are now trained to accept as a kind of axiomatic, unimpeachable, unspoken rule. It is extremely taboo to say that any one group of people are doing something "better" or more rationally than another. So even the thought that we're all naturally attracted to more than one person is reflexively viewed as a hideous, arrogant idea, even though it's a compelling argument if you can clear your mind & consider it.
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Old 04-24-2012, 06:11 PM
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Re (from Shadowgbq):
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"I definitely think polyamory is the natural state of mind for benevolent, rational human beings."
Ah, now that's a different way of approaching it (and more arguable, in my opinion): not redefining the word (to remove the sexual aspect of it), but rather, affirming that multiple loving/sexual relationships come naturally to human beings. While not in outright agreement, I believe there is considerable merit behind the idea (as evidenced by our old friends the bonobos).
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Old 04-25-2012, 08:07 PM
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I definitely think polyamory is the natural state of mind for benevolent, rational human beings.
You are most definitely entitled to your own opinion, and you are not the first person that has posited this.

However I disagree. I don't consider it unnatural, but it is not, in my opinion the natural state - more a natural state. Because this implies that monogamy is an unnatural construct, and I find that I can not get behind that idea at all.
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Old 04-25-2012, 08:54 PM
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Yes, I have to admit that it seems to me like monogamy is a natural state of mind for some people. How many people I don't know, it is too hard to tell with the skewed information generated by all the monogamy-only social conditioning.
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