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Old 01-29-2016, 01:04 AM
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Default Terminology?

I'm a little worried that I will be thrown to the wolves for asking this, but...

Are there hard and fast definitions for all of the different types of polyamory? My boyfriend has asked me to explain things to him, and what I would call the type of relationship I am hoping to have. Both he and I have had issues with finding conflicting information whenever I look on websites on the internet, even different sites describing polyamory itself differently (some websites claim that a person can "be" polyamorous, and others claim that polyamory doesn't describe a person, but a type of relationship... so the person would be non-monogamous but in a polyamorous relationship?) I've also found a lot of conflicting descriptions for terms like Monogamish, and Polyfidelity.

I actually tried to put together a list of my own, to try to sort it out in my own head and so I could share it with the boyfriend, but I got overwhelmed and confused very quickly. I had come up with a list of attributes and then tried to pair them up to make different descriptions... for instance: Open, Closed, Singular, Plural, Platonic, Romantic... But when I tried to give names to them, I realized there were way too many attributes that I wasn't thinking of.

So, is there a hard and fast list that most people swear by?

And since I already bothered to make this post....

Is there such a thing as closed polyamory, that doesn't function as a triad/quad/pod? For instance, if a person is dating two people, but they are not involved with one another... but at the same time, the person in question is not actively seeking other partners?

I suppose what I'm really wondering if there is any distinction between actively seeking other partners, and not actively seeking. And if there is, can a plural relationship involve different levels of that.

If, say, A was dating B and C in a compartmentalized fashion (where B and C don't know each other and are not involved), with no intention of dating anyone outside of B and C.... but is okay with B and C having other, casual partners of their own, while still being emotionally committed to A?

I'm not sure if I'm making any sense, but it's been on my mind for days as I've been trying to figure out how to describe things accurately. I don't want to mistakenly describe something.

Thank you in advance for any help, and apologies to anyone I offended by making this post.
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Old 01-29-2016, 01:50 AM
GreenAcres GreenAcres is offline
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Welcome! There is no hard-and-fast glossary of terms, though the one commonly accepted here is, generally, what you'll hear most in the poly communities I am aware of.

Poly, like all relationships, are what you want them to be. There are no "rules" other than what the participants themselves set. You can date in whatever configuration you'd like (ideally, of course, with others who also like your model). It can be "closed" or "polyfi," or totally open. There's no difference in looking or not looking for new/more partners except...well, whether or not you're looking. If you mean on something like a dating profile or at a meetup, you'd say something like "Poly, but not looking for additional partners," or "poly, and open to dating."

We have all kinds of relationship configurations here, from ladies with two husbands to gay triads to relationship anarchists. The best thing to do is figure out what you want, and go from there, without worrying about if it's "really poly," or fits into some specific rule book of poly (there isn't one). Do a lot of reading (this forum is a great start--check out the "Golden Nuggets section at the bottom of the home page), and a lot of work on communication and openess, and ask questions. We're here to help!
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Old 01-29-2016, 10:18 AM
InfinitePossibility InfinitePossibility is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by branches View Post
some websites claim that a person can "be" polyamorous, and others claim that polyamory doesn't describe a person, but a type of relationship... so the person would be non-monogamous but in a polyamorous relationship?
With this stuff, there is disagreement.

For some people, polyamory is what they are. They feel that it is an orientation like being gay. Something that they were born with.

For others, polyamory is what they do. It's a way they have chosen to have romantic relationships. They may change in the future - to another form of non-monogamy or to monogamy depending on what seems best for them at the time.
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Old 01-29-2016, 11:18 AM
KC43 KC43 is offline
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"Closed" doesn't always have to mean the entire configuration. In the example you gave, A is closed; B and C are not. In that case, it just means A is closed to the idea of having other partners themself, while the three involved are not closed to B or C having other partners. That's pretty much how it is with me right now; I can't deal with more than two partners (right at this moment, I can't even deal with two, but that's a story for my blog), so I have chosen to close *myself* off from having additional partners. Woody says he isn't seeking additional partners at this time, but he already has three others. Hubby says he isn't seeking additional romantic partners but wouldn't mind a FWB, and he's free to look for one if he chooses to put out the effort.

Definitions aren't always consistent for everyone. Woody's definition of polyamorous includes "is always happy for their partner having other partners, and about what their partner does with their other partners" (a/k/a "compersion"), and he actually told me the other day that I'm not really poly yet because I still have a hard time with his relationship with Highlight. But for most people, at least most of the ones I've encountered, polyamorous just means "capable of having more than one loving/romantic relationship". Compersion isn't mentioned...
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Old 01-29-2016, 05:06 PM
GalaGirl GalaGirl is online now
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I don't think there's a poly dictionary everyone uses.

I like "monoamorous" for a person who wants share love with only 1 sweetie.
  • They could participate in a "monogamous" shape relationship. It is Closed to just those 2 people in it.
  • They could participate in a "polygamous" V shape relationship as one of the "V arm" people. The shared sweetie in the middle would be "polyamorous" (wanting to share love with more than 1)

  • They could participate in an "Open" or non-exclusive relationship where the sweetie is polysexual and wants to share sex with more than 1 person. (Not necessarily group sex. Just more than 1 sex partner)

Maybe the Sweetie is both "polyamorous" (wants to share love with more than 1) AND "polysexual" (wants to share sex with more than 1.) And they are happy with a "poly network" or "polycule" of up to 4 people, but past that they get "poly-saturated." Then they want to "Close" their end of the network because their plate is full. Or ask if all the network is willing to Close.

Quote:
If, say, A was dating B and C in a compartmentalized fashion (where B and C don't know each other and are not involved), with no intention of dating anyone outside of B and C.... but is okay with B and C having other, casual partners of their own, while still being emotionally committed to A?
To me that sounds like they are in a "V" with A as the hinge or shared Sweetie. A wants to be Closed to just B & C. But is ok with B & C keeping their ends Open to other partners. (either for love share or sex share or both).

But I am not sure. A could clarify "casual" and "emotionally committed" to B&C just to be sure they all agree on what that means. If A actually means "I want you to share love and sex with me, and I am Open to you sharing sex with others, but not love" then A best clarify that.

Quote:
My boyfriend has asked me to explain things to him, and what I would call the type of relationship I am hoping to have.
Even though terms vary, I find it easiest to just look at the same paper like a conversation aid. I usually suggest this Open Model article.

Maybe you two could look at that together and figure out which models you are up for and which ones you are not?

Galagirl

Last edited by GalaGirl; 01-29-2016 at 05:10 PM.
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Old 01-29-2016, 09:46 PM
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Thank you for all of the responses!!! I think I'm going to put together a "short list" of the terms that I think are the most relevant, print it out, and sit down to talk about it with him. The links were very helpful, as was all of your advice!
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Old 01-30-2016, 10:40 PM
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Ravenscroft Ravenscroft is online now
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For me, the most important defining part of polyamory is the need for honesty -- with partners & potential partners AND with oneself. Sexual nonmonogamy doesn't have to be poly; poly doesn't have to have multiple sexual partners.

Nonmonogamy allows a lot of freedom to create intimacies that suit the people & the situation. Like, for years I had a partner who was very devoted to me... two or three times a month. She was very busy with multiple IRL social groups, work, job training, & launching a business; I was her "break time" & her sounding board. When we were together, I felt VERY special, & I tried to give that back.

Meanwhile, I lived in an open triad & had another steady lover. Aside from our core set of ground rules, there's no way that I could somehow codify what the heck it is that we were doing.... but it worked out rather darned well.
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Old 01-30-2016, 11:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by InfinitePossibility View Post
For some people, polyamory is what they are. They feel that it is an orientation like being gay. Something that they were born with.

For others, polyamory is what they do.
I look at it like a spectrum, with "I can't do monogamous relationships" on one end and "I can't do non-monogamous relationships" and most people falling somewhere in between. So "poly people" can't do mono relationships, and "mono people" can't do poly relationships, but lots of people are mono-poly-flexible and can do either depending where they are in their life and who they find themselves with at any given time.

Problems come when anyone on any part of the spectrum either refuses to acknowledge the other positions on the spectrum, or thinks that people are all in the same place they are.

Quote:
Originally Posted by KC43 View Post
Definitions aren't always consistent for everyone. Woody's definition of polyamorous includes "is always happy for their partner having other partners, and about what their partner does with their other partners" (a/k/a "compersion"), and he actually told me the other day that I'm not really poly yet because I still have a hard time with his relationship with Highlight. But for most people, at least most of the ones I've encountered, polyamorous just means "capable of having more than one loving/romantic relationship". Compersion isn't mentioned...
Fiddlesticks. There are "rock stars" at everything, and compersion is just a feature of being a rock star at poly relationships; it doesn't determine whether or not you're in one or you're allowed to identify as poly. Heck, I'm not sure it's even required to be a rock star. As long as you're keeping up communication and owning your own responsibilities, not trying to control anyone or make them feel lousy, I'd say that's enough for rock star status.
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Old 01-30-2016, 11:31 PM
KC43 KC43 is offline
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That's what I told Woody, who agreed and apologized for making it sound like I'm not completely poly because I'm still getting the hang of this.
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Old 02-01-2016, 08:39 PM
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I'm polyamorous, but closed to new partners. My two husbands are monogamous, and are only with me. They are not involved with each other.
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