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Old 08-01-2010, 02:39 AM
Ceoli Ceoli is offline
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Default "Hi, I'm poly and I don't exist."

This is an awesome essay that gives some interesting thoughts about the intersection between our identies (what's deemed "natural" or "biological") and our choices.

I tend to think that we fall back onto the biological argument a bit too much and it causes us to ask the wrong questions.

Instead of nature versus nurture, I think the real dynamic is about nurture versus reason. What if we left nature and biology out of the whole argument and just considered being poly or being monogamous as subscribing to a certain set of beliefs? What if nature is a red herring?
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Old 08-01-2010, 07:27 AM
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bimblynim bimblynim is offline
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Interesting Ideas, are you advocating that nurture (attachment history etc) is more important in our personality formation than genetic factors?

"What if we left nature and biology out of the whole argument and just considered being poly or being monogamous as subscribing to a certain set of beliefs"

My gut instint to the issues raised was that for me poly has nothing to do with belief its a relationship style that makes me feel secure, for other people different relationship styles make them secure. I see Beliefs as your (ones) ideas about how you (one) should live your (ones) life

For instance there are many people in traditionall hetrosexual relationships because that is how the believe they aught to live their lives

poly is not a way i would choose if i could help it (i have no problem with alternative lifestyles per say i'm just too lazy to WANT one for myself) as it stands i feel that its how i am, there are pros and cons to any style and i have to role with it.

You can chose to act in accordance with your beliefs or how you feel - i'm lucky in that mine mesh (sorry may have got off topic)

to answer the original ? although as someone said we are far from being "natuaral creatures" I don't think we can dissmiss genetic factors or early upbringing in the formation of our feeling. I don't think relationship styles are purely a matter of rational choice

that's my 2p
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Old 08-01-2010, 11:15 AM
Ceoli Ceoli is offline
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Originally Posted by bimblynim View Post
Interesting Ideas, are you advocating that nurture (attachment history etc) is more important in our personality formation than genetic factors?
Actually the essay talks about how whatever leads to our personality formation, we eventually develop a logic and belief system that works for us in the world. We develop political beliefs, we develop religious beliefs (beliefs about the ultimate nature of the universe) and we also develop beliefs about the best way to conduct our relationships in the world.


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Originally Posted by bimblynim View Post
My gut instint to the issues raised was that for me poly has nothing to do with belief its a relationship style that makes me feel secure, for other people different relationship styles make them secure. I see Beliefs as your (ones) ideas about how you (one) should live your (ones) life
I would argue that what makes you feel secure is a belief system. It's based upon your beliefs about what would happen. You feel secure in a triad relationship style because you believe that it is going to be the style that meets your needs. Others feel secure in monogamous relationship styles because they believe that is the style of relationship that's going to meet their needs.

There are also other beliefs that go along with it. Some people believe that love is best expressed with exclusivity, others believe that love is best expressed in other ways. Some believe that loving more than one person diminishes love, others belive that love doesn't work that way.

All of these beliefs are valid, but they are just that- beliefs. Beliefs we choose to live by and beliefs that inform how we should be living our lives.

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For instance there are many people in traditionall hetrosexual relationships because that is how the believe they aught to live their lives
That's kind of the point. There are many other people who are not in traditional heterosexual relationships because they believe that's not how they should live their lives. In all of these cases, it's their beliefs that guide them to where they are. Beliefs inform the choices we make and how we feel about our choices, whether consciously or unconsciously.

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You can chose to act in accordance with your beliefs or how you feel - i'm lucky in that mine mesh (sorry may have got off topic)
What is the difference between what you believe and how you feel?

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Originally Posted by bimblynim View Post
to answer the original ? although as someone said we are far from being "natuaral creatures" I don't think we can dissmiss genetic factors or early upbringing in the formation of our feeling. I don't think relationship styles are purely a matter of rational choice.

that's my 2p
I'm not claiming that relationship styles are purely a matter of rational choice. I'm claiming that they're a matter of belief. That's not the same thing. What we believe is formed from many aspects of our lives. But every belief we have *can* be subject to applying some rational thought to it. I generally don't think that happens very often, but it still can happen.

Did you read the essay?

Last edited by Ceoli; 08-01-2010 at 11:24 AM.
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Old 08-01-2010, 12:33 PM
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maybe i misread it (have dyslexia and often read things a different way each time) will look again

no my interpretation hasn't changed (so far, though obv please clarify)

"What does nature want us to be doing? You know... it really doesn't matter"

I agree with this and think sometimes people errect devissions (eg poly vs mono) to solidify their sense of idintity and that that is a unhelpful thing to do (there i think we agree)

I think where we disagree is I don't think it is only belief that makes the difference, and wether there *is* a difference between people who class themselves as mono or poly. My "hetrosexual mono" friend (y -in case your reading other posts though could aply to the majority of my friendship group) and I both *believe* that it is ok for people to live whatever lifestyle suits them best, she has no *feeling* that poly is right for her and I do, i think a genuine difference in our relationship needs and styles does exist and i think its interesting to explore how/why they may have come about. I don't think theres anything wrong with looking at biology, early upbrining ect, to try to find whats going on. I certainly don't think that any way is better or more natural and like the original poster hate the false divissions people throw up.

You propose that it is my belief that poly may be right for me is what makes me feel secure. My experience was the other way around. I knew nothing of poly, was flabbergasted by my emotional reaction. Joined this forum to explore, and this has reinforced the *belief* that poly is right for me without changing the underlying *feelings*.

you were asking what the difference between feelings and belief is for me - probably the easiest way to explain is by example

I *feel* sad and vulnerable at the thought of a mono relationship and happy at the thought of a poly one but i also feel frightened that being poly is not widely accepted and my life will harder as a result (there i accept there probably is some crossover between feelings and beliefs, although it might be just my attempt to rationalise the feeling of anxiety i experience)
I *believe* people have the right to live in whatever way makes them happy and that a polly relationship may fulfill my needs and being poly does not make me a bad person. I also believe that triangle may be the best option for me but I believe i'll have to wait and see how life pans out.

"But every belief we have *can* be subject to applying some rational thought to it"

I agree that every *belief* can but i'm not sure every *feeling* can - I say this as a person who tries to understand her feelings (and is occasionally massively surprised by them) perhaps for me beliefs are the interface between my feelings and my rationallity.

"whatever leads to our personality formation, we eventually develop a logic and belief system that works for us in the world"

I would like this to be the case but i don't think it is

Have you ever found yourself much angrier/ more hurt etc. than you rationally felt you should be?

I did read the article, but we seem to have got different things from it, please believe i'm not being deliberately obtuse, thanks for making me think all the best

nim
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Old 08-01-2010, 07:46 PM
jkelly jkelly is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ceoli View Post
What if nature is a red herring?
I'm pretty sure it is, so I was predisposed to agree with the essay.

I suspect that this paradigm has sprung up because there's a way in which polyamory as a movement has modelled itself somewhat on the LGBT movement, where a retreat away from the "choice" argument looked like a powerful political move.

That said, people really should be able to identify however they want to, even if I think that the stories they tell about why they identify that way are... unlikely, problematic, or a "red herring".

Incidentally, I wonder if this is an internet thing. I don't really encounter it IRL.
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Old 08-01-2010, 09:02 PM
Ceoli Ceoli is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bimblynim View Post
I think where we disagree is I don't think it is only belief that makes the difference, and wether there *is* a difference between people who class themselves as mono or poly. My "hetrosexual mono" friend (y -in case your reading other posts though could aply to the majority of my friendship group) and I both *believe* that it is ok for people to live whatever lifestyle suits them best, she has no *feeling* that poly is right for her and I do, i think a genuine difference in our relationship needs and styles does exist and i think its interesting to explore how/why they may have come about. I don't think theres anything wrong with looking at biology, early upbrining ect, to try to find whats going on. I certainly don't think that any way is better or more natural and like the original poster hate the false divissions people throw up.
When you speak of looking at how/why certain feelings about relationships feeling right or not may have come about, it's reasonable to think that those feelings are informed by beliefs that are held. People have strong feelings about religion too, and those feelings are informed by beliefs. If biology is responsible for what we believe about relationships, is biology also responsible for our political views and our religious views?

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Originally Posted by bimblynim View Post
You propose that it is my belief that poly may be right for me is what makes me feel secure. My experience was the other way around. I knew nothing of poly, was flabbergasted by my emotional reaction. Joined this forum to explore, and this has reinforced the *belief* that poly is right for me without changing the underlying *feelings*.
There are all sorts of feelings we have that are informed by beliefs whether we know it or not. That's what therapy is all about- understanding what underlying stories we tell ourselves that create the lives we're living. You don't have to know that poly exists to have a belief that a certain kind of relationship will work for you. There are all sorts of beliefs we hold that don't have some organized group attached to it.

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you were asking what the difference between feelings and belief is for me - probably the easiest way to explain is by example

I *feel* sad and vulnerable at the thought of a mono relationship and happy at the thought of a poly one but i also feel frightened that being poly is not widely accepted and my life will harder as a result (there i accept there probably is some crossover between feelings and beliefs, although it might be just my attempt to rationalise the feeling of anxiety i experience)
I would say that feelings of sadness and vulnerability have some sort of belief at their core. If I'm feeling sad about a relationship, it's usually because I believe that I will be losing something or having to give up something important or any number of other reasons. It would make sense that if a mono relationship makes you feel sad and vulnerable, there is some underlying belief about yourself informing that. I've always found that if I have strong emotions ruling me, I can unpack them and discover underlying beliefs that are fueling those feelings. The same would go for feeling happy at a poly relationship and scared and any other number of things.

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I *believe* people have the right to live in whatever way makes them happy and that a polly relationship may fulfill my needs and being poly does not make me a bad person. I also believe that triangle may be the best option for me but I believe i'll have to wait and see how life pans out.
Exactly. You are basing the relationship structures you would like to build on a belief system you have built.

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Originally Posted by bimblynim View Post
"But every belief we have *can* be subject to applying some rational thought to it"

I agree that every *belief* can but i'm not sure every *feeling* can - I say this as a person who tries to understand her feelings (and is occasionally massively surprised by them) perhaps for me beliefs are the interface between my feelings and my rationallity.
Given that we can have opposite feelings about the same thing on any given day (what might make me upset one day might make me happy the next) it can certainly seem like there's no rhyme or reason, but I've generally found that there are underlying reasons. Like I said before, what we believe about something is generally the thing that informs us about how we feel about it. If belief can be subject to rational examination, then it follows that feelings can be subject to that same examination. That's not to say that we control our feelings....it's just to say that we can understand, deal with and resolve them much better when we examine them.

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Originally Posted by bimblynim View Post
"whatever leads to our personality formation, we eventually develop a logic and belief system that works for us in the world"

I would like this to be the case but i don't think it is

Have you ever found yourself much angrier/ more hurt etc. than you rationally felt you should be?
Yep, I most certainly have. And when that's happened, I've unpacked what might be causing such a strong reaction in me and I can almost always pin it down to some core belief that was fueling it.

Here's an example from my own life:

My partner went away for a weekend camping party without me and had a great time with friends and another partner of hers. When she came back, she was feeling worn out and tired and a bit ill from her experience and needed a good extended amount of alone time to recover, meaning that she wasn't going to be able to see me for a long stretch. I found myself getting pretty upset and sad. While I did miss her, there was definitely more going on for me than just missing her. I was genuinely despondent. When I looked a little deeper into why I was experiencing that feeling, I realized that the last relationship I had with a woman went pretty wrong, and when things were going badly, she spent a lot of time "being ill" instead of wanting to see me. It made me hold an underlying belief that this period of time away from my current partner was "the beginning of the end". I believed that her needing some recovery time was the equivalent of her pulling away from me. When I examined that belief that was fueling my feelings, I was able to talk with her about them. All I needed was some reassurance that this wasn't her pulling away from me. When she did reassure me, it allowed me to let go of that belief and all of the hurt feelings that were being fueled by it. Then the dominant feeling I had was one of caring for her and wanting her to be happy and well. It was then quite easy for me to give her the space she needed to recover and I was very happy to see her when she was better.

So yes, I do think that there are always reasons *why* we have strong emotional reactions to things and those reasons can always be examined.

And since we build our lives around what beliefs we hold, it makes sense that how we structure our relationships is also informed by such beliefs (and the feelings they fuel).

(I will make a caveat for the chemical argument- I do know that there are many issues of depression and anxiety that are chemical in nature- hell, my own pre menstrual depression when I was on the pill SUCKED- but in general, there is still a rationally examined reason for such strong emotions surfacing)

Last edited by Ceoli; 08-01-2010 at 09:32 PM.
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Old 08-01-2010, 09:25 PM
Ceoli Ceoli is offline
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That said, people really should be able to identify however they want to, even if I think that the stories they tell about why they identify that way are... unlikely, problematic, or a "red herring".

Incidentally, I wonder if this is an internet thing. I don't really encounter it IRL.
I agree that people should be able to identify however they want to, but I do think there are cases where the stories they tell about why they get there can create a larger effect of prejudice and assumptions about others. The biology argument being one. When people claim that their being poly is due to a difference in genetics or wiring, they are then implying that I am also wired differently or have different genetics that lead to how I live my life because I am also poly. Plus bad science tends to be a pet peeve of mine.
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Old 08-01-2010, 11:18 PM
SayYes SayYes is offline
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I think arguments based in nature are really problematic in general; I feel that way about their use in the LGBT-rights movement as well. The bottom line is that it shouldn't matter whether it's a choice or not, everyone deserves the same rights. Allowing the entire argument for equality to hinge on biology is just too flimsy in my opinion. Equality needs to happen *regardless* of whether there's ever a clearly identified biological basis for sexual orientation.

I don't feel like I made a choice to be poly. It feels like an essential part of who I am, that I struggled for a long time to deny. But I can't claim to know why that is. There are plenty of things I consider immutable parts of who I am that I don't think can likely be reduced to a simple matter of genetics. And I recognize that plenty of people absolutely choose poly as a lifestyle, and I don't think that makes their poly any less valid or real a part of who they are than it is for those of us who don't feel so much like it was a choice we made. Chances are, there are a multitude of factors that can potentially contribute to defining our orientations. Acceptance of other people shouldn't depend on whether or not they had a choice in the matter.
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Old 08-02-2010, 03:31 PM
AutumnalTone AutumnalTone is offline
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"Good grief! Are we animals?"

Yes, we are.

Can everything we do be laid at the feet of genetics? No, though the whole range of human variation undoubtedly does have a genetic component. "Different wiring" is part of the human condition.

Can everything we do be laid at the feet of early childhood experience? No, though bonding issues and personal environment during earliest development affect everything thereafter.

Can everything we do be laid at the feet of reason? No, though rational thought about what we do certainly has a great deal to do with how we act.

Should the reason we behave in a certain way have any bearing on whether or not that behavior should be acceptable? Not that I can see.

So, one can say being poly or gay is OK whether it has to do with genetic inclination, early developmental experience, or because one holds personal freedom of choice in high regard and it really doesn't matter. How one chooses to view the issue is a personal choice.

I object to trying to tell other people that they can't argue for acceptability/legal recognition based on the reasons they find most compelling, however. That push to deprive people of their personal line of reasoning and their ability to choose is something I find morally repulsive.
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When speaking of various forms of non-monogamy...it ain't poly if you're just fucking around.

While polyamory, open relationships, and swinging are all distinctly different approaches to non-monogamy, they are not mutually exlusive. Folks can, and some do, engage in more than one of them at a time--and it's all good.
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Old 08-03-2010, 09:06 PM
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bimblynim bimblynim is offline
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Hi

fab food for thought Ceoli, I'd never considered it before but I think you're right about beliefs totally underpinning how we live our lives. However i think we differ in our views regarding the interrelationship of feelings and beliefs,
(before I go any further I think it’s important to acknowledge that most of the stuff we’re talking about need a shed load more research, I just wanted to explore my ideas from my experiences as they currently stand.)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ceoli View Post
When you speak of looking at how/why certain feelings about relationships feeling right or not may have come about, it's reasonable to think that those feelings are informed by beliefs that are held.
I think feelings are based in biology and that they inform beliefs. (hopefully what i mean will be clarified through the rest of the post)

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People have strong feelings about religion too, and those feelings are informed by beliefs. If biology is responsible for what we believe about relationships, is biology also responsible for our political views and our religious views?
To an extent yes. I think biology is at the root of spiritual feelings that guide people to form belief structures. My friends mum had a Spiritual awakening at the age of 45, after spending her life as a fairly disinterested agnostic, a sudden and intense feeling of connectedness with God promptred her to totally reivaluate her life. She has now, "found her calling" and is a baptist minister, I think it was her intense feeling that drove her to reshape her beliefs and subsequent actions. I grant that this is quite a rare/extreem example, but I would argue feelings are what ultimately underly peoples religious beliefs. That eminant scientists are theists and atheist to me underlines (my personal belief) that this is not something we can know, so must rely on our feelings to guide us. I would personaly probably be atheist if I didn’t feel the numenous.

And yes I also think that at base level our politics is probably underpined by the opposing evolutionary drives of competition and co-opperation

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Originally Posted by Ceoli View Post
There are all sorts of feelings we have that are informed by beliefs whether we know it or not.
I think that there are things that we have experienced that influence our feelings whether we know it or not but that something is not a belief until we hold it consiously

I would be interested in how you conceptualise the difference between feeling and beliefs?

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That's what therapy is all about- understanding what underlying stories we tell ourselves that create the lives we're living.
I wonder if therapy is about helping us to acknowledge and challenge our past experiences to form a more coherent and addaptive belief structure to hang our lives on? I feel the stories we tell ourselves are us forming/examining our belief structures. Beacuase beliefs are so central to how we live our lives changing them (particularly core beliefs) is a difficult often painful process (why i suspect people are largely disinclined to do it). though sometimes a feeling of unhappyness can be our cue to reivaluate

A person commited to a monogamous marrage, If they feel very atracted to somebody else, will likely feel very unhappy and will try to interpret what's going on to deal with their feelings. It might make most sense to them that they are being tested by the devil and need to resist, or that the belief structure held by the predominant society is not correct and that it is posible to deeply love more than one person at once so they explore polyamory, in either instance the feelings will be delt with. the other option would be to cheat and I believe it is the difficulty people have in changing their beliefs that leads to this being the most common outcome, incidently they probably likely to modify their beliefs slightly to lessen their guilt.

Thank-you for sharing the experience with your partner, i would suggest instead of an underlying belief causing your sadness it was underlying experience. I see the sadness you experienced as a biological prod for you to protect yourself. Because you're able to examine your feelings and past experiences you could pinpoint the probable cause of the sadness and check if you were in a comparable situation, happily you weren't and this resolved it for you. if you had found that your partner was pulling away from you, you would have had to use your beliefs and feelings to guide you as to what to do next, but you also would have been deealing with it, and so it continues.

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That's not to say that we control our feelings....it's just to say that we can understand, deal with and resolve them much better when we examine them.
this i totaly agree with,

I also think it is important to acknowledge that the stories we tell ourselves are best fit moddles, my example is my own experience arround relationships. As you know I never felt the compulsion most do to find a relationship and this troubled me, the first place i found in which other people said they didn't generally fancy people either was AVEN and so i thought i might be asexual (one who does not experience sexual attraction) this made me feel better for a while, but the nigling feeling returned for me to re-evalute the situation, this prompted me to continue serching and find polyamory, which feels right for me at the moment. its not comfortable but this proccess will probably continue throughout my life.

stuff isn't simple. (incidently bad science or anything that allows thought bypasses piss me off too) The problem is people (including me if I’m honest) want life to be simple, it makes it easier to form beliefs and maintain them if our experiences fit within our belief structures, esppecially as they are what underpin our lives and are painful to challenge, I think we unconsciously want simplicity. I think this is also why people find labels attractive, they are a shorthand for encompassing a broad set of ideas, and also why they can be so problematic.

This I think may have influenced your belief that

"When people claim that their being poly is due to a difference in genetics or wiring, they are then implying that I am also wired differently or have different genetics that lead to how I live my life because I am also poly." (sorry lost the quote thingy)

I think we are agreed that we deserve rights regardless of genetic make-up, and because of this I am content that my biological make up is, to greater or lesser degrees, different to everybody else’s on the planet. I don’t have a monozygotic twin and even if I did, our experiences would shape our brains at least slightly differently, I think that’s what makes us so interesting.

I think sexuality and personality may come about in similar ways.

There is quite a lot of research around the physilogical differences between introverts and extroverts (its been a while since I read psych so I can’t remember off hand –but should be easy enough to chase up if you’re interested) which suggests that introverts require less stimulation to reach a certain arousal threshold as compaired to extroverts. In my friend Y this hypothesised lower threshold may be why she *feels* overwhelmed at parties and have lead to her *belief* that she is a quiet person, guiding her behaviour to avoid such events. Thus I think biologically based sexual feelings lead to our creating/modifying belief systems to influence our behaviour. Its massively complicated stuff and still v early days in terms of reserch (tools, fmri etc, still being developed) but thanks for prod, inspired to read up on neurospyc re sexuallity


Finaly (for now) I think that like with many aspects of the human condition variety in sexuality exists because it is biologically advantageous in some instances and less so in others

So no I don’t think “nature” is a red herring if it refers to biology/stuff that can be empirically studied, but I concede it is a fishy shaped piece that has been picked out of a very complex puzzle that is subject to distortion.

Politically and in approach i agree with autumnal tone and the rest of you(thanks for being more concise than I seem to manage!)

Finally I feel that labels help me to some extent (they are a short hand if you agree the terms)

So I am (probably) poly and I exist!

(this in no way encompasses all that I am and does not invalidate anybody else’s experience)

(spoke to my brother about being poly last night, his response was “so your basically just a big hippy” although I’m not sure that label totally fits, it’s been tickling me )

Peace and love

Nim

Ps Crickey! I've never written so much of my own volition in my life! Thanks again Ceoli for making my walks to and from work, way more interesting!

Last edited by bimblynim; 08-05-2010 at 06:02 AM. Reason: clarification
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