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Old 01-03-2010, 10:11 PM
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CielDuMatin CielDuMatin is offline
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Default My poly isn't your poly - so what?

As on so many other discussion boards, the whole definition thing seems to come up with amazing regularity. Whether it is discussion of the differences between polyamory and swinging, what love is, and so on and so forth.

I really don't want to open up those discussions again - there are threads for that if that discussion is still necessary, but I think that it might be a good idea to look at why we care and how we might want to deal with it on a community like this one....

I think there are specific circumstances where defining a term has relevance - examples of those would include when trying to cater for a particular group, and trying to understand what the needs of that group are, or when trying to be more public about a concept - having a clarity helps people think about it. But outside of that... (and here's my point...)

When it comes to me and what matters to me - I really don't mind what definition you use, or even if you choose not to define it rigidly or not - I haven't met many people at all where I could say that my poly is their poly, and that is perfectly fine to me - I don't have to be the same as them or think the same as them in order to communicate with them, become friends with them and like them and respect them as people.

Even among poly folk saying "I'm poly" doesn't mean a lot and, if you want people to have an accurate picture of your relationship style, you need to explain a lot more. In my opinion there's nothing wrong with that.

When I interact with people on this and other fora, since I am not trying to define this community or do anything that involves public acceptance of the term in general, I feel that it is perfectly OK to refer to things as "that's not the way I do it" - but that's all it is - it's not a value judgment on the other person's way. Maybe sometimes we could try to defuse a potential situation like this with a little more care in how we express our differing opinions and make it a little more obvious that we respect the other person's right to think differently and to have a differently-structured relationship. This would include using words that don't sound like sweeping generalizations or could be interpreted as "this is the way to do it".

As this nebulous community I feel that it is vital that we try to open our minds and treat those of a differing opinion with respect - they got where they are through their learnings, and life experiences, and I feel that we need to respect that, whether we would personally do it the same way or not.

Everybody comes to this forum with their experiences, and some of those experiences contain trigger words that will set off a chain of emotional reactions to what we write. Expecting everyone to "check their baggage at the door", or similar things, is easier said than done and not realistic. I'd like to think that we could be a little more sensitive to that.

This isn't specific to this forum or to any specific members, by the way - I have seen similar things in most poly communities.

I would appreciate hearing your views on this.

Edit to add: I guess the additional question I would like to know is why do you care what the "global" definition is?
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Last edited by CielDuMatin; 01-03-2010 at 10:18 PM.
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Old 01-03-2010, 10:25 PM
Ariakas Ariakas is offline
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Originally Posted by CielDuMatin View Post


Edit to add: I guess the additional question I would like to know is why do you care what the "global" definition is?
Personally, I don't care, I have never cared much for what people around me think of what I do or how I do it, and I care even less about labels. I have gone through life as a conservative geeky headbanging jock. The people who I care are really the only opinions I put any merit on. As a consummate debater, I enjoy debating fine points at times, and it is in fact how ALL of my friendships developed, but if they have an opinion, and want to try and push my into a label, they likely won't get to far into my circle of friends

That said, maybe people argue so vehemently for a global standard so that is can be recognized outside people who aren't poly. If the definition is vague and misunderstood, explaining it to people outside the community, and thereby getting public acceptance, would be almost impossible. That is the only reason I can see to lock the definition down into a nice tidy box.

Last edited by Ariakas; 01-03-2010 at 10:27 PM.
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Old 01-03-2010, 10:39 PM
dakid dakid is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CielDuMatin View Post
I really don't mind what definition you use, or even if you choose not to define it rigidly or not - I haven't met many people at all where I could say that my poly is their poly, and that is perfectly fine to me - I don't have to be the same as them or think the same as them in order to communicate with them, become friends with them and like them and respect them as people.

Even among poly folk saying "I'm poly" doesn't mean a lot and, if you want people to have an accurate picture of your relationship style, you need to explain a lot more. In my opinion there's nothing wrong with that.

When I interact with people on this and other fora, since I am not trying to define this community or do anything that involves public acceptance of the term in general, I feel that it is perfectly OK to refer to things as "that's not the way I do it" - but that's all it is - it's not a value judgment on the other person's way. Maybe sometimes we could try to defuse a potential situation like this with a little more care in how we express our differing opinions and make it a little more obvious that we respect the other person's right to think differently and to have a differently-structured relationship. This would include using words that don't sound like sweeping generalizations or could be interpreted as "this is the way to do it".
i could not agree more. of course we have a variety of ways of being polyamorous - i celebrate our diversity i would not want it any other way!

what is painful and diversive at times is when we appear to be telling each other that our way is the only way, that another person's way of being poly is not poly. what i hope is meant in those moments is "that isn't how i practise poly" but sadly what often gets said is "that is not poly".

x
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Old 01-03-2010, 10:52 PM
constlady constlady is offline
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Originally Posted by Ariakas View Post
That said, maybe people argue so vehemently for a global standard so that is can be recognized outside people who aren't poly. If the definition is vague and misunderstood, explaining it to people outside the community, and thereby getting public acceptance, would be almost impossible. That is the only reason I can see to lock the definition down into a nice tidy box.
And for those of us with quite real concerns about the potential repercussions of not being adequately understood, this is the key.

I live in the smallest, most rural county in New York State.
It's a definite red streak politically and that conservatism runs through the judicial system.

If the law guardian of the children for whom I am currently legally responsible gets the impression from someone with a different definition of polyamory than I have that my lifestyle includes massive orgies or a constantly rotating cast of characters in and out of my life, I will be facing an uphill battle with the entire system in order to keep these kids safe.

It won't matter that their mother is an incarcerated addict - that's an understood disease, the system is used to dealing with that.
It won't matter that their father is a convicted felon and has also been found guilty of neglect previously - that again is a known enemy.
But let it get out that their grandmother is *gasp* polysomething and immediately red flags will be raised.

So these discussions on finding a definition, on being able to present to mainstream society a non-threatening picture that clarifies who I am and how I love have a very serious and very real potential to impact not only my life but the lives of four young children.

Personally, I don't wish to define how anyone lives their polylife, just as I don't want mine defined. But the reality for those of us who live under the threat of persecution is that there does need to be some sort of basic definition, not only for the outsiders to understand but for those within the community to rally around to remove that threat.
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Old 01-03-2010, 10:56 PM
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crisare crisare is offline
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Originally Posted by Ariakas View Post
That said, maybe people argue so vehemently for a global standard so that is can be recognized outside people who aren't poly. If the definition is vague and misunderstood, explaining it to people outside the community, and thereby getting public acceptance, would be almost impossible.
Exactly.

Also because language is useless if everyone gets to make up their own definition. Communication and understanding become impossible when people get to decide that various words mean various things for them and it doesn't matter what anyone else thinks it means.

If I went to a restaurant and ordered Lasagna and they brought me chicken, I'd be confused and somewhat upset. If I then asked where my lasagna was and they said "this is what we call lasagna" ... that would confuse me even more. We wouldn't be able to communicate.

There is already so much confusion about alternate sexualities and alternate lifestyles that I don't understand why anyone would want to add to that confusion.

Edited to say: Yes there are many different ways of being poly and I'm not disputing that. One can accept a broad definition of poly with regard to structure and partners without going so far as to say that poly = every variety of non-monogamy out there.
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  #6  
Old 01-03-2010, 11:22 PM
X-User1335 X-User1335 is offline
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Default Wow

I like this blog! Mainley because when my huband and I began looking for what it is that we want, now we have the term poly, we began with pologimist. I prob spelled that wrong, but anyways. That's what I thought we were looking for. At the same time I didn't know if that's what it was or not, because I (and my husband) want me to have interaction and to fall in love with our partner as well as him. If anything, my husband finds it very important that her and I are on the same wave length mentally, physically, emotionally, etc. He wants us to click. I want it to.

Then we found the term polyamory. It seems to fit us better. It means love many. We want to fall in love with another, and it may turn into a marriage, we don't know. Who does when you go this route?

But I've seen other things written where it's the man, or the woman, or both, that go about it different than what we are. They both date others. I get it that is poly! But what we are doing is also.

I wrote a blog introducing us and even posted the question "Is that poly"? Mainly because I didn't want to offend anyone in my way of thinking. I don't want to offend anyone's lifestyle and name ours as the same as theirs.

I've came to the conclusion, very quickly I might add, that poly is poly. You are or your aren't. You are in a mono. relationship or you are in a poly one. No one can tell you that you are wrong in what you are doing, not and back it up anyways. And no one can tell you that you are not poly, you are just doing it all wrong! My poly is not your poly, so what. I like that line and I think I will probably be using it often!

Thanks for the blog. It is very interesting to read what everyone's views of this lifestyle is. I'm really enjoying being a member here because of blogs like this!
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Old 01-03-2010, 11:41 PM
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Ravenesque Ravenesque is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ariakas View Post
That said, maybe people argue so vehemently for a global standard so that is can be recognized outside people who aren't poly. If the definition is vague and misunderstood, explaining it to people outside the community, and thereby getting public acceptance, would be almost impossible. That is the only reason I can see to lock the definition down into a nice tidy box.
I quite love the use of the word global within this thread.

http://thesaurus.reference.com/browse/global

Global. All-inclusive. Universal.

Having a global definition of polyamory would be lovely because it would by nature involve all polyamorists and inclusive of all polyamorous perspectives. If such a definition is used when attaining legal rights for polyamorous people is would be a huge positive and bring poly people from all walks of life together in support.


Quote:
Originally Posted by dakid View Post
i could not agree more. of course we have a variety of ways of being polyamorous - i celebrate our diversity i would not want it any other way!

what is painful and diversive at times is when we appear to be telling each other that our way is the only way, that another person's way of being poly is not poly. what i hope is meant in those moments is "that isn't how i practise poly" but sadly what often gets said is "that is not poly".

x
Indeed dakid. Having a global definition would definitely not be stating "that is not poly" as is often said here because it would embrace all versions and perspectives of polyamory.

~Raven~
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Old 01-04-2010, 01:22 AM
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LovingRadiance LovingRadiance is offline
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And for those of us with quite real concerns about the potential repercussions of not being adequately understood, this is the key.

I live in the smallest, most rural county in New York State.
It's a definite red streak politically and that conservatism runs through the judicial system.

If the law guardian of the children for whom I am currently legally responsible gets the impression from someone with a different definition of polyamory than I have that my lifestyle includes massive orgies or a constantly rotating cast of characters in and out of my life, I will be facing an uphill battle with the entire system in order to keep these kids safe.

It won't matter that their mother is an incarcerated addict - that's an understood disease, the system is used to dealing with that.
It won't matter that their father is a convicted felon and has also been found guilty of neglect previously - that again is a known enemy.
But let it get out that their grandmother is *gasp* polysomething and immediately red flags will be raised.

So these discussions on finding a definition, on being able to present to mainstream society a non-threatening picture that clarifies who I am and how I love have a very serious and very real potential to impact not only my life but the lives of four young children.

Personally, I don't wish to define how anyone lives their polylife, just as I don't want mine defined. But the reality for those of us who live under the threat of persecution is that there does need to be some sort of basic definition, not only for the outsiders to understand but for those within the community to rally around to remove that threat.
This! Any minute now 3 of GG's family members will be stopping by. His family is bound and determined that we are all "living in sin" and that we will drag our children down with us. They have already pushed for court battles to remove our youngest child from our home.

Additionally our second oldest-his mother and grandmother have also tried to remove him from our home (tried for 10 years).

It's very important in a legal sense that we educate the general population that there can be a CHILDFRIENDLY poly-lifestyle.

I don't give a damn how ANYONE practices their life. But when we can't define certain things-we put the innocent lives in the balance because the unknown causes fear and that fear causes condemnation and judgement and unnecessary and irrelevant legal actions that hurt our children.
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  #9  
Old 01-04-2010, 01:26 AM
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CielDuMatin CielDuMatin is offline
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LR (and constlady and anyone else): If work was done on a generally-accepted definition of poly for the legal rights issues surrounding families, what, in your opinion, is "child-friendly" enough to make it safe for you to still be poly and to have this issue become a non-issue? Or would any definition be good enough?
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Last edited by CielDuMatin; 01-04-2010 at 01:33 AM.
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Old 01-04-2010, 01:28 AM
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crisare crisare is offline
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Yes. I live in the Baptist, conservative, South. If there is a red state, mine glows with an unholy red light. And I'm only partially joking.

I don't have children myself, but all of my partners have had children. It would be nice to know that someday people wouldn't automatically assume that we were all being irresponsible and endangering their children by choosing to have multiple, committed relationships.

And the only way that will happen is to take the fear out of the word by clearly defining it.
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