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Old 03-21-2013, 12:10 AM
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Default Again with "lifestyle"

It seems that there is a cycle again in my life whereby there seems to be a lot of married couples doing the poly thaaang as a way to propel their established relationships into change. I call them "lifestylers." Sorry if that rubs you the wrong way, but they tend to take on poly as a lifestyle choice for the moment to justify (and rightly so, why not?!) pushing themselves and each other into sorting out their relationships.

Sometimes their long term established relationships end and thats it for poly, and sometimes they actually do decide and establish themselves as polyamorous.

Ya, I know that the common suggestion is not to go there with poly if your relationships are not stable to begin with, but I've changed my mind. Why not cause a shit storm to kick start an old boring relationship. I get it. I just wish for some clarification ahead of time. Hence the term poly "lifestylers" for me. It works for me in describing a possible scenario. Thoughts?
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Old 03-21-2013, 01:17 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by redpepper View Post
Ya, I know that the common suggestion is not to go there with poly if your relationships are not stable to begin with, but I've changed my mind. Why not cause a shit storm to kick start an old boring relationship. I get it. I just wish for some clarification ahead of time. Hence the term poly "lifestylers" for me. It works for me in describing a possible scenario. Thoughts?
While I tend to agree with that common suggestion, I hear what you're saying.

I know that a lot of our growth has come from situations where life threw us into a shit storm, whether we wanted it or not. It was hell to deal with at the time, but we always came out stronger both as individuals and as a couple.

After all, it's not until a tornado rips through the neighbourhood that you really learn which foundations are the strongest and which were held together with sticky tape and mud.

But I completely agree with "clarification ahead of time." It's one thing to be causing yourself grief in an attempt to grow. It's another thing entirely to bring someone into the mess unwittingly. Tell her you're trying something different and you don't know how it will work out, warn her not to get too attached because she might be sent packing at any minute, and respect her needs and feelings as a fellow human being and not just your poly guinea pig.
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Old 03-21-2013, 08:13 PM
ladyslipper ladyslipper is offline
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I was a "lifestyler" and I've been involved as a "secondary" with a married couple whom I would also classify as "lifestyler"s.

Long story short: my spouse and I are getting divorced but remaining friends. My spouse's "secondary" is now his "primary" and they remain open. I am no longer anyone's "secondary" and I have no idea the state of the couple I dated. I saw red flags and cut loose. I'm learning how to be on my own now, something I have never done, and plan to continue developing the ideal of openness in my relationships.

Life is messy. Love is a risk, no matter how you practice it. I think you do your best to minimize collateral damage by being as honest with yourself and others as possible; by going slow; and by not getting your heart set on any single outcome. But mostly, by being secure in yourself. Is any of this insight specific to poly, definitely not. It's really just about trying to be the best human being you can be.

I am thankful that poly was there to help me navigate my way out of one way of living and into another. I knew we weren't a perfect couple when we started down this road but in hindsight, I don't think we treated our "secondaries" unfairly. My husband's girlfriend and I got along well from the beginning and never had trouble communicating. My other former metamour and I, well that is another story, but I think we all went into it knowing it was a risk. We went slow. We tried to communicate a lot. We thought we knew what we were doing but some things just can't be planned for. It was a calculated risk. It's definitely possible we got lucky and things could have gone a lot worse. But poly allowed us to renegotiate our relationship in a way that I hadn't known was possible.
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Old 03-22-2013, 08:37 AM
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I tend to dislike the characterization of polyamory as a "lifestyle" because I feel that it cheapens it and masks the concept behind a word we use for often very superficial or one dimensional changes in our lives.

To me, this is a way of LIFE. This is how I live my life; it is interconnected with how I relate to people, how I have friendships, how I treat others, how I feel about the ideas of justice, equality, solidarity, and it even ties in with my political leanings.

I think people turn to poly as a way to fix a broken relationship the same way people think having a baby is going to fix their relationship. It sounds like a bitchin' idea on the box but there's A LOT more to it than most people realize. I would tend to agree with the characterization of people who get into it for those reasons as "lifestylers" because many of them (that I've encountered, anyways) dont seem to grasp the fundamental under-pinnings of the idea of polyamory.

I know that sounds a bit snobbish but there is truth to it. Trust, openness, honesty, and communication are all foundational building blocks to any strong poly relationship and a lot of these couples seem to be missing one or more of them and in pretty glaring instances. Poor communication is often what leads them both to consider poly because neither one wants to nut up and say what's really on their mind. They haven't examined their relationship or really much of themselves so they dont actually know if it would be a good idea, it's just a quick solution to throw at the problem and hope it works and the relationship limps along for another few years, crippled but not yet dead.
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Old 03-22-2013, 12:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Helo View Post
I tend to dislike the characterization of polyamory as a "lifestyle" [...] To me, this is a way of LIFE.
I have to admit... to me, "lifestyle" is just the one-word synonym of the phrase "way of life". So I'm having trouble understanding your explanation of why it's one without being the other.
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Old 03-22-2013, 02:49 PM
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The word "lifestyle", as with any word, if used a certain way, can convey different messages or meanings.

One couple I know constantly refer to polyamory as a "lifestyle", meaning that they have chosen to be polyamorous. While I do believe, as a couple, there are choices to be made about polyamory, that for me personally, being polyamorous is not a choice or a lifestyle decision, it's just who I am. I don't think gay people have chosen being gay as their "lifestyle".

Polyamory was never a lifestyle choice for Ann & I. Early on, during the difficult transition from monogamy to polyamory, we would argue and challenge each other to return to monogamy. This was a non-starter and was never really a choice for us. So, at the end of it all, I guess we chose polyamory together but never considered it our lifestyle. Its just who we are.
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Old 03-23-2013, 02:51 AM
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I know that the word "lifestyle" has been used as a sort of code for swingers, leatherfolk, BDSM fans, and even (back in the day) homosexuals. Are you using the word in order to evoke the connotations associated with those groups in some way?

As someone who falls into many of the above categories, my experience of the word "lifestyle" is a positive thing, and I'd tend to use it to describe people who are committed to it as a long term way of life. Perhaps, I can see the distinction you're drawing, but might use "lifestyler" to describe the people who are dedicated to it, and "dabbler" to describe the folks who are using it as a temporary thing for one reason or another.
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Old 03-23-2013, 01:30 PM
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As someone who committed this faux pas I question whether its a classification towards more of a side bar.

Like people who adopt swinging as a "lifestyle" are what I would call, now, part-timers. Not fully in it for the long haul but merely for some fun for a bit till they retreat back to their mono lives.

If I am assuming too much, so sue me.
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Old 03-23-2013, 08:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tonberry View Post
I have to admit... to me, "lifestyle" is just the one-word synonym of the phrase "way of life". So I'm having trouble understanding your explanation of why it's one without being the other.
I've always differentiated the two.

"Lifestyle" is something you do that is more or less a conscious choice and only affects one part of your life. For instance, swinging or collecting stamps; it's something you do and it does entail changing part of how you think but it isn't something that directly changes a large degree of your life.

A "way of life" is something that drastically changes the way you live to a large degree and influences the majority of your life. For instance, being vegan or poly; they're both something that entail major life adjustments in how you live and how you think.
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Old 03-23-2013, 08:45 PM
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I think polyamory can and cannot be a lifestyle choice. For me, it certainly isn't. Though I feel I have always been polyamory, I did choose to actually learn about who I was. But that choice didn't make it a lifestyle for me. I didn't choose the polyamory itself. It was always there, and I just embraced it.

But there are people who do consciously choose to "try it out". Some of them are put off it, and go back to their old ways of dealing with relationships, and some find the opposite effect.

So I can definitely understand what redpepper means by lifestylers.
All I can say, is good on them for trying out something new. I just hope they don't hurt other people trying it out. Making sure everyone is on board with it, before diving in.

I certainly don't agree with causing a shitstorm, though. Take it a step at a time, and if it becomes too much, take a step back, and see where you are, and where you want to be. There's no need to make unnecessary sacrifices, when it may cause others around you to suffer.
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