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  #11  
Old 11-21-2011, 07:42 PM
zylya zylya is offline
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Originally Posted by AutumnalTone View Post
You'll find that a lot of such agreements, particularly among those new to practicing polyamory, are not so much mutually agreed upon as one party inflicting a rule upon the other, with the other acquiescing rather than walking away. So, in a great many OPP situations, it *is* one partner inflicting an unreasonable deman on the other.

The example you quote is quoted without context, which is necessary to tell if the question was reasonable. Based solely on the wording of the comment--"...limits he imposed..."--suggest that the discussion was about one partner imposing limits on the other, and those limits not being fully agreeable nor necessarily what the other truly wants.
If we take the context, it was rory, who's been active on this forum for a long time, and started opening up her relationship 4 years ago (all info from the topic). Hardly "new to polyamory" really. She also mentioned that she was more interested in girls than guys. Yet the implication was still that it was HIM forcing HER. I actually read the discussion and at no point in rory's post was it suggested that it was his decision that she accepted, and indeed in a later post in the same topic she confirmed as much directly. A link has been posted in this topic, but I probably should've posted the link myself. The topic was right below this one when I posted though so I didn't really think about it. In addition, a demand is only unreasonable, if the person being demanded feels it's unreasonable.

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The negative connotation that attaches to the term is there rightly, I believe. If the one partner only desires the single P (whether penis or pussy), then no need for such a policy exists. My wife has no real interest in finding a male lover, for example, although she's free to do so--there's no need for a OPP for her to limit herself to only one male lover. A one-penis policy only crops up when one partner desires multiple penises, much to the chagrin of the other; the only reason we could have for a OPP is if I were insecure and didn't want her fucking other men.

An OPP speaks to one partner simply not trusting the other and the existing relationship. It speaks to a negative relationship dynamic. It speaks to *bad things* and I think it good that it has a negative connotation.
In the case of a monogamous relationship that's opening up, I completely disagree - if someone was married and monogamous, and their partner told them they were bisexual and wanted to explore a relationship with someone of the same sex, then I don't think it's entirely unreasonable for someone in that situation to want "OPP" because it's as close to the relationship that they originally signed up for. If someone was going through the effort to open up a monogamous relationship for me to explore my poly then I'd be a bit of a dick to insist that it was totally open when I've already turned their world upside down by dropping the polybomb on them. An OPP is almost a compromise between "true" polyamory and the monogamy they went in for.

Also if you're going to claim that OPP is negative because of lack of trust, then surely monogamy is also negative for the same reason - in that case there's an even BIGGER group of people that you don't want them to have sex/form relationships with. But we don't view monogamy as unhealthy in and of itself, it is the application of the monogamy, or the one penis/pussy policy that is either healthy or unhealthy.

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Originally Posted by Mya View Post
This is precisely what's wrong with the term when used in all situations where there's only one penis involved. It gives the impression that the woman had little to do with that agreement and that's not the case every time. If someone says "You have OPP" about another persons situation it makes the assumption that the woman didn't have much say in that. It makes the woman a victim, not an active decision-maker.
This is what I was trying to say before - by talking about how a guy IMPOSES it on a woman, it suggests that women aren't able to make decisions in their relationships. Let's be clear here, if you are in a relationship and your partner suggests a OPP and you don't want to go along with it, but you do anyway, for the sake of the relationship, then you have noone to blame but yourself. If it is important to you that there is no OPP then DO NOT BE IN A RELATIONSHIP WITH SOMEONE WHO INSISTS UPON IT.

In my relationship with my primary, she doesn't want to get pregnant or catch STDs, yet we still have a "practise safe sex" rule. Surely this rule is unnecessary? Yet we still have it because it makes us feel more secure and that we're in agreement. Any rules that people make are to protect themselves - if someone is jealous, that is a very real emotion. If a OPP made ME feel better and it was something that she was happy with anyway, then why exactly is it a bad thing? Yes jealousy can be negative and unhealthy, but that doesn't mean we'll never experience it. Surely if both people are happy with the OPP and it is benefitting the relationship then it is a good thing?
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  #12  
Old 11-21-2011, 09:02 PM
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Originally Posted by Magdlyn View Post
That was me you quoted, from this thread

http://www.polyamory.com/forum/showt...782#post111782

"I wonder what limits he imposed on you. OPP?"

In response to Rory saying:



She didn't answer my question yet. I guess she is implying these are mutually agreed limits to which she gave full agreement, was not coerced. Not sure.
I think that pretty much sums it up right there.
She said (I believe) that her and her husband had negotiated and agreed to limits. You asked if he "IMPOSED limits on her" She didn't suggest that limits were imposed, and when she gently said that OPP could be considered more or less to be what their agreement was, you didn't feel you'd really been answered.

To me, it feels like you'd like her to admit that YES, her husband has insisted on a OPP, and that you find it hard to believe that she would be happy with the agreement, because so many women aren't (and some ARE coerced into it of course). Anyway, I see how it would be hard not to get defensive or find the term negative when they get asked if "Is your husband imposing that agreement on you?" instead of being asked "And are you OK with that agreement?"
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  #13  
Old 11-21-2011, 09:44 PM
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Here comes a male, not-yet-practicing polynewbie to chime in... I have to say that after reading the glossary, I have found these terms to be a bit condescending. Condescending talk makes my blood boil, but that's my personal problem I suppose. Anyway, I became aware of polyamory about a year ago and would like to pursue it. My poly-curious wife isn't interested in finding any male partners right now. We talked a lot about how things might be and for simplicity's sake we both would prefer to find a single woman who would be interested in joining us in some way or another. In fact, I mentioned to her that it would be probably be unlikely that we would find such a person because anyone we find who knows anything about polyamory will probably already have partners. She still wants to try to find someone single.

I do tend to get a vibe that since I am a man and I identify as polyamorous and my wife doesn't want to pursue it for herself at this time that I will get this kind of snobby scoffing response because of both our newbieness and the way we would like to try to make it happen. There is no OPP for us. It just looks that way, at least in theory.

I think when it comes to other newbies, it might not be a bad idea to just let them sort the unicorn/OPP part out by themselves. I think they will realize the rarity/unfairness aspects soon enough once they start looking around/talking about it. If they find another partner, that person will no doubt enlighten them. Since I am a newbie, are there really so many experienced poly types that keep an OPP or are actual unicorn hunters? My guess is no. So there is no need to slap labels on the newbie at such an early stage, is there?

On the side: I think the term noob is also derogatory.

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Originally Posted by zylya View Post
In the case of a monogamous relationship that's opening up, I completely disagree - if someone was married and monogamous, and their partner told them they were bisexual and wanted to explore a relationship with someone of the same sex, then I don't think it's entirely unreasonable for someone in that situation to want "OPP" because it's as close to the relationship that they originally signed up for. If someone was going through the effort to open up a monogamous relationship for me to explore my poly then I'd be a bit of a dick to insist that it was totally open when I've already turned their world upside down by dropping the polybomb on them. An OPP is almost a compromise between "true" polyamory and the monogamy they went in for.
This sounds good. While I feel I was EXTREMELY lucky with poly kind of coming to my wife and me organically i.e. no polybomb, I did mention the idea of dating and pursuing multiple women in the beginning so that I could get an idea of who would really be a good potential serious partner. I don't think she was or is ready for that yet. I can understand that. Maybe for us there is an OOEPP (Only one extra pussy policy) enforced on me. I am not offended by that and I agree to it with no feeling of pressure.
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  #14  
Old 11-21-2011, 10:15 PM
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Originally Posted by rory View Post
I am insulted by the underlying assumption that what all bisexually-identified women most want is lots and lots of penises.
I'm not a bi woman so I have zero exposure to how widespread or not this assumption is but I don't understand it at all. The term is Bisexual, not "man-crazy". Is this a common male assumption? I find it completely puzzling.
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Old 11-21-2011, 10:17 PM
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I agree with everything AT has posted here.
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  #16  
Old 11-22-2011, 12:10 AM
zylya zylya is offline
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Originally Posted by nycindie View Post
I agree with everything AT has posted here.
Good point. I mean after all, his poly is better than everyone else's. It's not like two or more people can negotiate relationship systems that work for their own personal situations. Conformity for the win.
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Old 11-22-2011, 02:07 AM
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Good point. I mean after all, his poly is better than everyone else's. It's not like two or more people can negotiate relationship systems that work for their own personal situations. Conformity for the win.
Huh? He wasn't saying anything against people negotiating what they were comfortable with. He was simply addressing the origins of the terminology in question.

By the way, this thread is standing alone to discuss those terms. Even though Rory started this discussion, to keep referencing another thread of hers to continue pulling the context from that one over here is just continue that discussion here, and I think the focus on this one is meant to address the terminology in general, and not Rory's situation, isn't it? Else, it would've continued over there. So, in just talking about these terms now, I think what AT wrote is correct and valid. Just because people misuse these terms doesn't mean he is wrong or talking about something else (I don't even understand your response about confomity at all).
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  #18  
Old 11-22-2011, 03:53 AM
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I find it very useful to have a shared set of terms, a shorthand to describe the things we see often. I think that to a large extent, the negative connotations of the terms come from the fact that the concepts themselves have negative connotations.

For instance, when an experienced poly person hears "m/f couple looking for a single female to love them equally" they are likely to think "trouble" -- and rightly so, all too often. Similarly, when polyfolk hear "the agreement between this m/f couple is that the female may have one or more other female lovers but no other male lovers" they are likely to think "the male half of that couple is likely dealing with issues of jealousy, fear, and/or insecurity," and, again, that often turns out to be correct (that was exactly why Davis was ok for some time with me having sex with Gia but not with Eric, he admitted himself that it just made him feel insecure and scared for reasons that he didn't fully understand, and I was happy to cede that to him until such time as he got over it). So, why should we abandon the terms just because they have negative connotations when the connotations derive from the nature of the things they describe, which are real and prevalent and problematic?

As for the negative connotations of the terms expressing an underlying assumption of a preference for heterosexual relationships over homosexual ones, I actually see it the opposite way. The desire for OPP (the concept, not the term) seems to me to often come from a place of heteronormativity, in that a man may find it less threatening for his female partner to have other female partners because relationships between two women aren't "real" and won't possibly pose a "threat" to the preexisting heterosexual relationship... like, I can't help but wonder when a man wants OPP if he's thinking, probably unconsciously, "my wife won't run off with *her*, she doesn't even have a penis, whereas a penis-bearing man could steal her away!" So, OPP often makes me twitch because I wonder if that's where it's coming from. It's never occurred to me that OPP is bad because it denies women their god-given right to lots of penises, hardly. Many women in heterosexual relationships don't, in fact, have much/any desire for penises other than the one belonging to their existing partner. But if that's the case, why the need for a rule about it?

Are all couples seeking a third naive and myopically focused on their own needs? Absolutely not. Are all m/f couples that are open to women and not men working off of the male half's fear of other penises? Of course not. But it happens a lot, so, yes, people in those situations do often end up having to explain themselves.

That's unfortunate for them, and I think that in all fairness we *should* be careful about how we use those terms. We shouldn't mistake a woman in an existing m/f relationship who says "I'm interested in new relationships with women but not men" for someone operating under an OPP rule. There is every reason to believe that's her decision. But if her situation is actually "I'm interested in men and women but have chosen to focus exclusively on relationships with women because that's what my male partner is comfortable with and it also happens to be what I'm more interested in", well, there are shades of grey there that include catering to one partner's fears/insecurities (what else does it mean for the man involved to be "comfortable with" that arrangement but not with one that did allow for other men?) and some people may see a problem with that. For others, it may signal that the female half of the couple is sensitive and compassionate to her partner's needs. But either way, if it would not be ok for the woman to have a relationship with another man -- if that would be breaking a rule or a boundary or an agreement or whatever -- then isn't it, in fact, a policy that stipulates that there shall be no men (who usually have penises) beyond the man in the existing partnership? Isn't it, in fact, a one-penis policy? Sure that sounds flippant, and sure there are negative connotations, but again I believe the connotations come from the concept, not the term, and people have developed those negative connotations based on what they've seen and read about, so they're not in any way necessarily unfair connotations.

The problem comes in when we use these terms as weapons, rather than tools. When we pre-judge without knowing the facts, or when we assume unhealth to be a given just because a relationship has taken a particular form. Do the terms make that easier? Yes, probably... after all, it's easier to unthinkingly toss off a term than it is to thoughtfully analyze a situation. But that doesn't mean the terms themselves *are* the problem, or that identifying a rule as OPP is always meant to be derogatory or dismissive. Rather, I see it as quite straightforward and descriptive, in and of itself. Again, it's all in how it's used. "It seems you guys decided that an OPP is the best way to move forward -- was that a mutual decision or a unilateral one?" is very different, after all, from "Oh, I see, OPP, how unevolved, you poor thing." We also need to be willing to believe women when they say "this was a mutual decision" or even "this was *my* decision" and not use the negative connotations of the term to badger then into admitting that something is wrong. That's just plain rude.

Unicorn-hunting is an interesting one. To me, it by definition describes a couple that is looking for something that doesn't exist, that is seeking a fantasy woman without needs of her own who is capable of perfectly equal love. If a couple is open to putting another woman's needs on the same plane as their own (to me, this includes not demanding exclusivity off the bat... though they may all mutually decide that exclusivity is what they want, which is different), and are willing to see her as a complex person who will love different people differently and who may well want/need different things than them, then I don't consider that unicorn-hunting.

Should people be pre-judged, informed that they may well be unicorn-hunters just because they outwardly present as such? Well, the fact is that any bi woman they might approach will probably do just that if she has any experience in poly at all. So, I don't see introducing them to the term as mean, but rather as a reality call -- "whether or not this describes you ( and does it, by the way?) you should be prepared to overcome this preconception." Again, this is not the term's fault, it's the fault of the concept and how it is applied by far too many inexperienced couples. And, again, the negative connotation is there in terms of heteronormativity for the same reason that it is in OPP (unicorn-hunting naturally incorporates OPP).

I do worry that the terms come off as condescending and thus keep people from listening to what's being said, which is unfortunate. For advice-givers, therefore, I would especially recommend using the terms judiciously and carefully. I think I myself have been guilty of tossing "unicorn hunting" at a new poster on at least one occasion in a way that was accusatory rather than constructive, and I regret that.

But drop the term wholly? No, I think it does a great job of light-heartedly capturing a problematic mindset that needs to be called out.

Tl;dr version: terms don't insult people, people insult people.
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  #19  
Old 11-22-2011, 07:57 AM
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Sorry, I hope this doesn't come across as picking on you for your newness. This is not my intent just so you know but
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interested in joining us in some way or another.
this makes MY blood boil.... this to me is all the difference between unicorn hunting and searching for a triad opportunity. The woman doesn't *join* anything. You become three. Look at it the other way around, you are *joining* her also. I find this explanation the key to the issue. People in triads are not a couple and their other, they are all three independent and autonomous people. The fact that two are married becomes irrelevant and a triffle in the end. This is what is not understood most of the time.

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Originally Posted by PipeDreamer View Post
I think when it comes to other newbies, it might not be a bad idea to just let them sort the unicorn/OPP part out by themselves. I think they will realize the rarity/unfairness aspects soon enough once they start looking around/talking about it.
This is a forum. On forums we talk about stuff, push each others boundaries of knowledge and understanding, and hopefully do that with a bit of caring and consideration for the person struggling. If a person comes here and tells their story expecting that they will just have it read and not responded to that is ludicrous and they likely shouldn't be here. If they don't like the response they get then its usually because they were hoping everyone would agree with them and are struggling with the FACT that not everyone does and sometimes no one does...

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On the side: I think the term noob is also derogatory.
I agree. I have never liked that term.
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Old 11-22-2011, 09:18 AM
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Originally Posted by nycindie View Post
By the way, this thread is standing alone to discuss those terms. Even though Rory started this discussion, to keep referencing another thread of hers to continue pulling the context from that one over here is just continue that discussion here, and I think the focus on this one is meant to address the terminology in general, and not Rory's situation, isn't it?
Yes.

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Originally Posted by SoCalExile View Post
I'm not a bi woman so I have zero exposure to how widespread or not this assumption is but I don't understand it at all. The term is Bisexual, not "man-crazy". Is this a common male assumption? I find it completely puzzling.
No, it is not a common male assumption, as far as I know. That's not what I was trying to say, sorry if it caused confusion.


AutumnalTone, I think it is useful that you brought up the origins of the terminology, it is relevant to the discussion.
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Originally Posted by AutumnalTone View Post
As far as the term "unicorn hunters" being derogatory..I agree that it is, to a degree. I also think it is *rightly* derogatory, as what it describes is not a healthy situation.
On one hand, I don't disagree with you that when used in correct situations (ones that are actually described by it), the negative connotation is "deserved" in that the situation is problematic. On the other, even if it is accurately used (which is not always the case), there are the problems of, firstly, coming off condesending and getting people's defenses up instead of facilitating good communication (because it is not enough to say the right thing but also to have it heard by the other party) and, secondly, coming off holier than though, as there are surely other problematic behaviours to which no such term is attached to. The second relates to what you write about OPP
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Originally Posted by AutumnalTone View Post
An OPP speaks to one partner simply not trusting the other and the existing relationship. It speaks to a negative relationship dynamic. It speaks to *bad things* and I think it good that it has a negative connotation.
Sure, OPP tells you somebody is insecure, and that's bad bad bad. But as zylya points out, so does monogamy:
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Originally Posted by zylya View Post
Also if you're going to claim that OPP is negative because of lack of trust, then surely monogamy is also negative for the same reason - in that case there's an even BIGGER group of people that you don't want them to have sex/form relationships with. But we don't view monogamy as unhealthy in and of itself, it is the application of the monogamy, or the one penis/pussy policy that is either healthy or unhealthy.
And so does one-pussy-policy. And no-penis-policy in lesbian relationships, and no-pussy-policy in gay relationships. And only-the-two-penises-you-already-have-and-no-more-policies you sometimes see. And only-sex-no-emotions, or only-emotions-no-sex, or only-oral-no-penetration, etc. My point is that there are a million agreements people make in their relationships in order to avoid feelings of insecurity. I think it's arbitrary to see only OPP as problematic. But if the other ways are problematic, as well, why put OPP on a pedestal? Why single that one out? Wouldn't it be a more productive approach to present the issue with OPP as something many people have hard time with (insecurity), and offer help with that, rather than put a lable OPP on it to signal that their way of poly is really bad in comparison to all others' who never have any irrational insecurities or issues.


AnnabelMore, thank you for your thoughtful response, it made me think a lot. You have a point here
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Originally Posted by AnnabelMore View Post
Tl;dr version: terms don't insult people, people insult people.
Actually, starting this discussion, I was thinking the terms, as well as their usage. I haven't argued the terms should never be used. Still, I'm not sure how useful they are.

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Originally Posted by AnnabelMore View Post
As for the negative connotations of the terms expressing an underlying assumption of a preference for heterosexual relationships over homosexual ones, I actually see it the opposite way. The desire for OPP (the concept, not the term) seems to me to often come from a place of heteronormativity, in that a man may find it less threatening for his female partner to have other female partners because relationships between two women aren't "real" and won't possibly pose a "threat" to the preexisting heterosexual relationship... like, I can't help but wonder when a man wants OPP if he's thinking, probably unconsciously, "my wife won't run off with *her*, she doesn't even have a penis, whereas a penis-bearing man could steal her away!" So, OPP often makes me twitch because I wonder if that's where it's coming from.
I totally understand your point here, and I don't disagree with you. I can sometimes wonder the same thing. However, there is a more problematic application of a similar thought process, where it is assumed because a man wants an OPP, he must be a chauvinist pig, and the woman who agrees to that must be a victim. Usually this assumption is not explicitly expressed, but rather it colours the way in which the couple is related to. And because that is assumed, rather than explicitly asked, there is nothing either member of the couple can say, because the OPP is already seen as the defining feature of their relationship and their persons (just as in mainstream society, there are people who see poly as the defining feature of polyships, which means they can never see them as anything but unhealthy).

Quote:
Originally Posted by AnnabelMore View Post
The problem comes in when we use these terms as weapons, rather than tools. When we pre-judge without knowing the facts, or when we assume unhealth to be a given just because a relationship has taken a particular form. Do the terms make that easier? Yes, probably... after all, it's easier to unthinkingly toss off a term than it is to thoughtfully analyze a situation. But that doesn't mean the terms themselves *are* the problem, or that identifying a rule as OPP is always meant to be derogatory or dismissive. Rather, I see it as quite straightforward and descriptive, in and of itself. Again, it's all in how it's used. "It seems you guys decided that an OPP is the best way to move forward -- was that a mutual decision or a unilateral one?" is very different, after all, from "Oh, I see, OPP, how unevolved, you poor thing." We also need to be willing to believe women when they say "this was a mutual decision" or even "this was *my* decision" and not use the negative connotations of the term to badger then into admitting that something is wrong. That's just plain rude.
I agree with you here to a large extent.
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