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  #1  
Old 11-13-2012, 05:29 PM
BoringGuy BoringGuy is offline
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Default Observation - Imposing Perspectives (reinstated thread)

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Rory originally posted:

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Note - this is a post not inspired by any specific person or place.

I feel sometimes certain perspectives or ways to understand the world are imposed on other people's experiences. Nothing poly-specific of course: this kind of thing happens all the time. In part I think it's a human thing - we tend to imagine others experience things as we do. And it's often something we are blind to until somebody with a different perspective points it out.

Despite being human and understandable, it's also related to power; often it is individuals in dominant groups that get to speak for everybody. I mean, that's probably one reason many of us are here on the forum: because here it is not the monogamous perspective that prevails.

I am sure I have so many blind spots myself. Everybody can only write and speak from their own perspective. All I can do is try to be considerate that there are other points of view, try to look at my own biases when they are pointed out to me, and not attempt to speak for others.

Anyway, I'd like to open up discussion about how inclusive people feel poly spaces (such as, but not limited to, this forum) are. Do you feel you are sometimes speaking from some kind of minority position? Do you feel some commonplace understandings don't have much to do with your life? Are there perspectives that you feel are imposed on your life, that don't fit?
Quote:
I'll start by listing a few perspectives I feel are sometimes imposed on my relationships.

One way is using the term swinging as synonymous for sexually open relationship. I feel swinging is something quite geographically specific to US (and maybe other countries?), it's a culture in itself, and I, coming from elsewhere, don't relate. Therefore somebody describing me as, e.g., "swinger in addition to poly", feels as imposing a foreign (hetero- and ethnocentric) concept on how I see my relationships and activities.

There is also another thing, which comes more from (Western) cultural assumptions (which I have also grown up among in Europe) and is simply carried onto poly. That is (married-) couplecentrism. I also see the whole hierarchy-debate linked to this. I don't doubt other people (e.g. solo polys) will have things to say about couplecentrism from their perspectives, but I want to write from mine. I'm offended by being defined in terms of my relationships, or in terms of my marriage. I feel there's something gendered in this, too, with the culture seeing men as persons and women as defined by their relationships.

Anyway, I don't appreciate being seen as half-of-couple(s) [haha, if I'm half of two couples, does that total a whole person?]. I find it slightly harder to come up with concrete examples of situations where this happens, but I'll get back to you when I do.

Still, couplecentric ways of approaching poly feel foreign to me. One example is the whole framework that insists of seeing romantic relationships in a hierarchy. I don't much care what people do in their own relationships, but I don't appreciate people using hierarchical perspectives to define my relationship life. I don't see my romantic relationships in a hierarchy any more than I see my friendships in one. Besides, I feel there's something ugly in the view of relationships as competition in the cultural assumptions from which I see this coming from. There is something very narrow in a perspective that cannot accept that other people don't necessarily have any common ground with that understanding. I also feel that the prevalence of the hierarchy-model and -debate is something that forces everybody to relate to that framework if only by rejecting it. I feel being forced to continuously position myself with regards to the hierarchy framework has harmful influence on the way I would otherwise view the world.
Then Boring Guy posted:

Quote:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rory
Still, couplecentric ways of approaching poly feel foreign to me. One example is the whole framework that insists of seeing romantic relationships in a hierarchy. I don't much care what people do in their own relationships, but I don't appreciate people using hierarchical perspectives to define my relationship life. I don't see my romantic relationships in a hierarchy any more than I see my friendships in one. Besides, I feel there's something ugly in the view of relationships as competition in the cultural assumptions from which I see this coming from. There is something very narrow in a perspective that cannot accept that other people don't necessarily have any common ground with that understanding. I also feel that the prevalence of the hierarchy-model and -debate is something that forces everybody to relate to that framework if only by rejecting it. I feel being forced to continuously position myself with regards to the hierarchy framework has harmful influence on the way I would otherwise view the world.

This is why I think the term "poly couple" does not make sense. Yes, people who are dabbling in or thinking about opening their monogamous relationships are going to use that term because it invokes the paradigm they are already used to. But I think it's an oxymoron.

I find it amusing when a relationship that has been part of a non-monogamous "network" (hate the n-word applied to relationships but it is convenient and conveys the idea satisfactorily) fails or ends and monogamous people (friends, acquaintances, and spectators) act all smug and superior and say things like, "That's why *I* would never try that" - as if a break-up between non-monogamous people somehow "proves" that non-monogamy "doesn't work".

Most people seeking anecdotal evidence that their own choices are the "right" ones - if someone else does something differently and it works for them, that's like saying the first person is "doing it wrong". If someone else does something differently and it fails (or ends), then that provides the first person with the perceived assurance that they are "doing it right".
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  #2  
Old 11-14-2012, 12:58 PM
Vinccenzo Vinccenzo is offline
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I think no matter what your flavor of open is there will be, at some point, someone in the mix wishing to impose their perspective on you. I am in a hierarchy style open relationship. My husband sees a woman who is also in a hierarchy style open relationship. At one point she accused me of not respecting a decision "we all" made because her, her husband and his secondary sit down and schedule things in advance. Only she will not put herself in the shoes she wants her husband's secondary to wear; she has never sat down to schedule a single thing with me involved. She expects me to get whatever info I need from my husband exclusively. She said she will not be marginalized but stays on the margins when it comes to me.

So maybe this occurrence isn't limited to couple centric ideals, just a way for people to stay in their comfort zones rather than put in work where is doesn't result in instant personal gratification?
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Old 11-20-2012, 01:20 AM
Archaeolibris Archaeolibris is offline
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I thought I might re-post this here. It is my response to comments on my first post in these forums asking for some advice from the seasoned, and I think it gets at exactly what you're talking about. Frankly I've have an almost uniformly bad experience with poly folks because of imposed perspectives/expectations. I have already been labeled something I'm not right here (a "swinger") . . . I feel like this labeling problem is really endemic in our society, and it does more harm but good.

Quote:
Quote:
The title of your post sounds makes it sound like one could "share" people like a plate of hors d'oeurves that you pass around at a party. To each his or her own, but it is no wonder poly groups are not your thing.
Ah I thought this was what might happen . . . I would be looked down upon as a "swinger" . . . something I would never use to label myself, nor is it a community that I have any contact with (or wish to), just because I mentioned sex for fun. My boyfriend and I don't "swing" . . . which is to say go out together as a couple to swap, share meet . . . whatever . . . with other couples or singles. We are simply free to pursue our attractions, (whatever they may be) like adults, so long as we're honest with each other. As I said, this usually takes the form of short-term involvements with other awesome people, but not always. The label I use is "open relationship" which I think is a good umbrella term for a variety of non-traditional, non-monogamous relating. What to call it has been the least of my worries . . . what to do about it sometimes is.

So am I textbook polyamorous? I suppose I just don't feel like that is the most important question . . . and that was part of my turn-off to the poly community: everybody seemed eager to label me in ways that I felt didn't describe me at all, and were mostly interested in 1.) coming on to me in ways that were overly-permissive and uncomfortable 2.) making sure that my relationship followed a bunch of books on polyamory that I was not allowed to question or disagree with 3.) trying to sell me sex products. Frankly very few folks seemed to want to get to know me or to hear about how I 'do' love, they were more concerned if I was doing it their way, if I was really 'one of them.' That mostly convinced me that I didn't want to be.

So apparently I have to prove myself: In addition to my boyfriend I have an ongoing work and romantic relationship with a German man who is also in an open relationship of 6 years . . . he currently lives abroad but we have been sexually intimate and speak several times a week, collaborate on art installations and academic work together. I will see him for probably a month come March. He is a brilliant person who invigorates me intellectually, trusts me deeply and cares about me personally, as I do him. My partner and I have both dated people while also dating each other, having relationships lasting many months. Frankly, the sex I have with other women or men . . . even if I'm not looking to date them long-term, tends to be highly meaningful sex with a lasting personal connection . . . not this objectified passing around of a person "like a plate of hors d'oeurves" as you assumed. That's just not how I tend to do things.

I felt drawn to polyamory discourse because it seemed there would be some people there dealing with the sorts of situations and emotions someone in my place would be. Is it then your contention that polyamory is only polyamory if you intend all of your relationships to be multiple and permanent/long term? For my own part, I don't label myself . . . I am just me, and what I do romantically is closer to what all of you seem to be doing that what monogamous couples or swingers do. That said, you guys seem definitely not to want to claim someone like me

Any honest responses to my questions are indeed appreciated. Thank you to those of you that responded kindly with your ideas.
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Old 11-22-2012, 11:52 AM
TOROdeSerenity TOROdeSerenity is offline
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Archaeolibris> I'm new to being poly but I see people labeling swingers as people with high sex drives and people who are not looking to "love many people" which is the definition of "polyamourus." An NSA or "no strings attached" person is not looking to form polyamourus relationships and it's seen as tainting the poly term by mis-using the terms. It's like calling yourself celibate but you jerk off to group sex porn.. it just doesn't compute.

I wouldn't worry what others think you are. You know who you are. Call yourself what you are or what you want to be. Others perceptions are not of value to yourself. If you believed you fit into a nitche or society then you wouldn't be seeking an alternative. Sure it helps to have a text book label when defining yourself or your relationships, not only for your own piece of mind but to help get accurate advice. That is the reason you're on here to begin with right? To seek peers and share thoughts? Just keep reminding those people that you're poly and not a swinger.. you date alot and are actively looking hard for the right person to love... that happens to be a series of short poly dates right now...
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Old 11-22-2012, 02:45 PM
BoringGuy BoringGuy is offline
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"I would not want to belong to a club that would have someone like me as a member"
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  #6  
Old 11-22-2012, 04:58 PM
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nycindie nycindie is offline
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Jeez, I didn't label anybody anything. I wasn't saying you are a swinger, but offered only that what you're looking for might be better found at swing clubs and swinger-focused sites, rather than poly-focused sites, because your post expressed wanting a threesome just for fun. In no way was I putting down swinging or labeling you. Shit, I don't even know you - AND I already apologized for misunderstanding you, which you never acknowledged.

If you're going to quote me, why not include the helpful advice I gave you:

Quote:
Originally Posted by nycindie View Post
Basically, it sounds like you both really only want to focus on recreational sex rather than relationships, and since polyamory is not about sex, you would probably get better results in the swinging community.

There are plenty of sites that are dedicated to swinging, and even organized swing and threesome events at meetup.com. If you live in a more populated place, you can probably find some clubs or people who host private parties where you can meet people looking for NSA hookups. I think you will be most successful that way, because I am sure lots of people are also looking for that.
Hmm,a way to help you be successful at finding what you want. That was really imposing a viewpoint and labeling you? Sheesh. A bit defensive, eh?
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Old 11-23-2012, 09:29 AM
Archaeolibris Archaeolibris is offline
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Okay, nobody needs to get excited over this. I posted this a while ago on account of relevancy to the question before anyone had responded to me. Yes, being labeled as something I felt I was not did seem all-too-familiar and unfortunate. I self-identified as 'poly' by joining this group (I thought)-- or at least I think it is an accurate term for the relationships I have been practicing for years. I get that folks here have had bad encounters with 'swingers' (maybe), which was what I was presumed to be, let's not get too upset about it. I don't have that much animosity towards anyone I have not met. I'm sure you're a perfectly lovely person doing their best in life.
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Old 11-23-2012, 12:00 PM
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Oh, I don't think anyone here got excited or upset at all. It's only a message board about relationships, we're not trying to solve global warming. I have no animosity toward you - how could I? Wouldn't make sense. I was just clarifying that what I posted in the other thread was not imposing any viewpoint on your situation nor labeling you.
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