Polyamory in the News!
. . . by Alan



October 26, 2010

"The Great Polyamory vs. Polyfuckery Debate"

The Stranger (Seattle)

I hope she was just having a pissy day, but Mistress Matisse kicked a hornet's nest in this week's issue of Seattle's alternative weekly paper The Stranger (edited by Dan Savage).

By coincidence, I was in Seattle — for Loving More's Poly Living West conference (great workshops, great Bone Poets concert, 75 great people), and for the Polyamory Leadership Network's fourth national summit meeting (a website is supposed to be up soon).

And from what I see of the poly community, and certainly from what was on display at those two major Seattle events, I don't know what Matisse is talking about.


The Great Polyamory vs. Polyfuckery Debate

by Mistress Matisse

Some days, I miss the term nonmonogamy. I should dust it off and give it some daylight, because I'm put off by how reductive the definition of the word polyamory has become lately.

I first heard the term polyamory on a Usenet group in the early 1990s. Its appeal was obvious: Saying that one is nonmonogamous implies that monogamy is what's proper and that being nonmonogamous is a deviation, with all the negative baggage that word carries. Also, to say I'm nonmonogamous makes sexual behavior the central issue. But to say I'm polyamorous widens the focus to include both emotional connections and political worldview, something advocates for alternatives to monogamy want. Quite simply, polyamory is better branding than nonmonogamy. So a wide range of people who were nonmonogamous — including me — adopted the word.

However, as the term became more popular, factions developed, and one of them might be called poly literalists. "Polyamory has the word amor in it, which is Latin for love," they say. "So if you don't love the other person, then what you are doing is polyfuckery, not polyamory. You're just using the word polyamory to justify your promiscuous sexual activities. And you're a dirty slut who is tainting my morally pure system of having sex with more than one person."

Okay, they usually don't say the "promiscuous dirty slut" part out loud. But it's clearly implied, along with every other sex-negative shaming strategy in the book....

I dislike transparently opportunistic lechers (of any gender) cocking their finger at me and saying, "Hey, babe — I'm polyamorous."... But you know what I dislike even more? Purity campaigns. And sexual-minority groups of all kinds have an unfortunate habit of eating their own young.... Well, I'll let you Pure Poly People wrestle with how, exactly, you can restrict the language of polyamory to folks who do it exactly like you. Let me know how that works out. I'll be over here, being nonmonogamous.


Read the whole article (Oct. 20, 2010).

Honestly, among the poly people and groups I know, I don't see these One True Way putdowns. The most visible face of polyamory has to be Loving More, and as long as I've known, its position has always been that "everyone does poly differently" — that there's a huge spectrum between romance and play, and where people place themselves on that spectrum is their business; and that the bottom line is simply about honest dealings and "relationship choice." Two highlighted stars of the con were Allena Gabosch and Dossie Easton, two of the brassiest sex-positivity radicals on the planet.

The Polyamory Leadership Network has also agreed on the phrase "Promote acceptance of relationship choice" as the common-denominator theme among its 80 or so members, and it embraces people from the wild ends of various kink/ queer/ sex-radical spectra.

Same with the local poly groups that I'm in, and the online discussions I read.

Is there some hidden motherlode of Poly Purity Peeps that Matisse meets and I don't? The only restrictive definition of poly that I hear is the part about honesty and "the knowledge and consent of all partners concerned" (part of the dictionary definition since 2006). Usually this comes with strong values around respectful behavior, serious communication, and personal integrity. But sex negativity? No way.

Comments welcome.

P.S.: I can't pass up this chance to plug Franklin Veaux's Map of Non-Monogamy. Note that polyamory is only one subset. Geek Love!

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32 Comments:

Anonymous Goddess of Java said...

I see it all the blankety-blank time, especially in the BDSM community, though I've seen it plenty of other places.

October 26, 2010 10:19 PM  
Anonymous Angi said...

Hmmm, I don't know. I feel like I have seen a fair amount of what she's talking about on message boards and whatnot, where people feel the need to very explicitly specify that poly necessarily means multiple committed relationships, and not relationships that are only open in the sense of casual sex. I can see making that distinction--open relationship vs. polyamory--if the terms of the relationship are such that people are not *allowed* to develop emotional ties to additional partners, but otherwise I find the "casual sex isn't poly" distinction I hear sometimes to be frustrating. On one hand, I totally understand the drive to explain to the world at large that poly isn't *only* about sex. I've certainly felt the need to make that clarification about my own relationships more times than I can count. But there have also been many times I've read people making that distinction in a way that seems to put down people who *are* pursuing more casual sex, and I feel like I do understand a little of what Matisse is talking about.

Of course, I've never been involved in a local poly community, so my experience of the attitudes held by people within those communities is based solely on the internet, which isn't necessarily an accurate reflection at all.

October 26, 2010 10:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sadly, I must confess to my own history of polyfuckery. When my partner and I decided to open up and come out of the closet as to our poly nature, we very much started out having casual sex relationships while calling it "polyamory".

Over time, it thankfully morphed into the "real thing", and love replaced the emptiness of casual sex.

I'm not sure that it wasn't all that different from mono-people's attempts to find "love". I know in my days of being a serial-monogamist I had a few relationships which in retrospect were based on sex.

Also, while I am not proud of our polyfuckery, I think in some way it was an important step in our development. My partner and I had a relationship based on "love". Having that interim time of external causal sex gave us an opportunity to explore without threatening the "core" of our relationship.

She and I are to the point now where the notion of sex without love is distasteful, but we understand that love can be a bigger thing than we thought it was when we were monogamous.

October 26, 2010 11:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've seen such putdowns ON THIS BLOG.

Her "quote" is presumably exaggerated for effect. People rarely write anything that direct, but there's a constant, subliminal drumbeat of distancing from any practice that's maybe a little too promiscuous for writer's taste.

Sometimes, it takes the form of saying "that's not for me"... in a way that, taken in context, subtly implies that it's not for that person because, after all, that person isn't a dirty slut. Or because that person has, you know, higher standards. Or maybe because that person just prefers to relate on a more evolved plane than those shallow physically-focused types. One sign of this type is a post that disclaims some practice, when nobody ever suggested that the poster was involved in it, and when it's clear from context that nobody cares.

It's like the person who makes a point of mentioning not watching TV. The fact that it's said is part of the message.

Other times, it takes the form of a complaint about people associating polyamory with promiscuity... with the often not at all subtle implication that that's a problem, because promiscuity is something only a dirty slut, um, I mean unevolved person, would want to be associated with.

I have seen it (not on this blog) blow up into somebody literally writing "It's POLYAMORY, NOT POLYFUCKERY!". I don't remember if the writer actually called whoever she was responding to a "slut", but it would have been in keeping with her tone to have done so. And I've seen plenty of other messages that were just about as strong.

Why do you think it's so important to some people to distance poly from swinging? Sure, there's a difference, but somehow that particular little confusion of terminology is always a really, really important one for people to clear up.

It seems especially common to hear this stuff from women. I've always assumed it was a way of dealing with internalized insecurities about being, well, a dirty slut. Or maybe it's just an image concern about being SEEN as a dirty slut, and treated as one, perhaps by non-poly people. Because it turns out the treatment a woman gets, when she's seen as a slut, is not really the treatment anybody wants to get. And it's pretty annoying to get treated like that for something you *don't* do.

But, whatever the reason, it still has the effect of a putdown. And it means that the next woman down the "slut" slope gets it even worse.

And I don't think it's really a matter of anybody being outright sex negative, in the sense of thinking sex is outright bad in all circumstances, or even in most circumstances. It's about feeling that sex outside certain approved contexts is, if not wrong, well, maybe a bit icky, and if not icky, at least a bit impolite. You know, something we have to make sure people know isn't for us.

October 26, 2010 11:57 PM  
Anonymous Angi said...

"Why do you think it's so important to some people to distance poly from swinging? Sure, there's a difference, but somehow that particular little confusion of terminology is always a really, really important one for people to clear up."

To me, this is a really nuanced issue. Like I said above, I do understand the motivations behind making such distinctions to a degree. Time and again, I've dealt with people assuming that my relationship with my boyfriend is strictly sexual, and while I think there's absolutely *nothing* wrong with relationships that are strictly sexual, and have no fear of being labeled a slut, I also want this specific relationship to be acknowledged as the meaningful relationship that it is and to have *both* of my partners recognized as my partners. I think that's a reasonable thing to want, and I don't think that people are always trying to be sex-negative or slut-shaming when they clarify the terms of their own relationships.

I do completely disagree with the "casual sex is not poly" attitude, though. What the first anonymous describes above, for example, doesn't sound like anything to be ashamed of to me. It sounds like a perfectly normal experience, and one I wouldn't hesitate to classify under the poly umbrella.

October 27, 2010 12:27 AM  
Blogger ManKitten said...

I might be one of the strange ones but I'm firmly of the opinion that people can and will apply whatever justifications, labels and recriminations to a situation to make themselves feel different to others, and in most (but not all) cases that means assuming some moral high ground. Not everyone does it, maybe not even the majority... but the most vocal folks certainly tend to.

"Oh, you're doing to wrong because you don't love/love too much/don't worship the way I do/don't swallow/whatever."

It's all the same thing. Me, I'm polyamorous because I self-identify as such. I identified as such before I had more than one partner and I consider that just as valid as now, when I do.

I use the simple definition of 'capable of, and usually inclined towards, being in love with more than one person' as my personal definition of polyamory. If you're capable of it and inclined towards it but don't have more than one partner - or any - I don't think it makes you any less polyamorous than a single, celibate straight person is heterosexual. Just because they're not having sex doesn't mean they don't have tendencies.

I was inactively polyamorous before my fiancee and myself found our girlfriend. Now we're actively polyamorous.

Likewise if I were slutting it up (and I use 'slut' in a non-derogatory sense) then I don't think that would make me less polyamorous. Whether I classified myself as being actively polyamorous with THOSE people, well, that would really be my business. If I considered it so, and they considered it so, I don't think it's relevant if someone else disagrees, regardless of how vehemently they do it.

In the end all of the nuances of classification can be tremendously important and a few things (like consent and open communication) really do make big big differences... but I don't like to see people's loud brash statement of what something Is or Isn't getting in the way of the most essential part of being polyamorous: allowing yourself to simply BE it.

October 27, 2010 1:49 AM  
Blogger Julian Morrison said...

Follows from the idea that every bout of sex is really a try-out for a Relationship, to find The One. This being the only possible model of close emotional connection between adult humans. Thus sex without a ring in mind is necessarily connectionless.

Put that way, it's clearly nuts, no?

The above does not change significantly if we swap "The One" for "another one". Polyamory alone is not enough to rescue it.

October 27, 2010 6:10 AM  
OpenID doomweasel said...

Case in point regarding Poly Purity Peeps: the first anonymous commenter in this thread. S/he may not be calling anyone a dirty slut, but who could honestly claim that talking about the "emptiness" of casual sex doesn't have an undertone of moral condemnation? Plus there's that whole "then it evolved into the real thing" bit. Gag.

October 27, 2010 10:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Look, you can't have it both ways. If what one is interested in is casual sex, that's perfectly fine. But if so, while there's nothing "morally wrong" about your choice as long as you respect the people involved, you can't really expect your relationships to be treated in the same way that serious committed relationships are treated.

Frankly, I imagine the folks who merely engage in casual sex don't encounter nearly as many challenges from mainstream society as those of us who maintain serious multiple relationships do. The world is used to noncommitted folks who sleep around (plenty of self-defined monogamous people doing that as a phase, which helps blur the line); it is NOT used to people who want to be out about their two partners at the office. One doesn't usually want to bring one's casual fucks to one's family Christmas table. One doesn't have to deal with the complications of scheduling and time management that come into the picture when dealing with relationships that require investment. So overall, I just don't see what brings about this whinefest. You want to have casual sex, have casual sex; why expect an applause for it?

October 27, 2010 11:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Having lived in Seattle for 9 months, and actively attempted to be in the Seattle Poly community - there is a LOT of stratification, a lot of DEFINING and a lot of LABELING. There was also a lot of "lip service" to the concept of "everyone's poly is different."

I fully understand her complaint - even if I am far more likely to be on the "prude" end of HER spectrum. Poly -- TO ME -- isn't about fucking the most people I can. And I don't necessarily assume that it is is HER definition either. I don't judge someone by what they CALL themselves -- I judge them by their actions.

If someone's ACTIONS show that they are being a "promiscuous dirty slut" (of EITHER gender, because let's face it, guys can be MASSIVE SLUTS too!!!), then that's what they are. If they simply choose to have responsible, safe casual sex - and lots of it; that doesn't make them a "slut." It may make them promiscuous (using the definition of "very sexually active" not the "indiscriminate sex" definition), but not a "slut."

And if someone's actions show that they are a sexual prude with diamonds up their ass (from being so anal retentive that not only has their crap solidified into carbon, but their asses are so tight they crap diamonds), then that's what they are.

My poly is not defined by your poly. The poly COMMUNITY might be defined by the most "public" of those who are poly (whether by celebrity or by sheer volume of voice), and if so -- you need to be CAREFUL how you define the whole community. But when it comes down to "you" and "me?" I define poly by me.......and I expect "you" to define poly by "you."

October 27, 2010 12:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, other anonymous, about this...

"Look, you can't have it both ways. If what one is interested in is casual sex, that's perfectly fine. But if so, while there's nothing "morally wrong" about your choice as long as you respect the people involved, you can't really expect your relationships to be treated in the same way that serious committed relationships are treated."

I'm in a serious, committed poly relationship. A years old, permanent, live together, raise a kid together, own a house together, work through the problems because we're in it for the long haul, proud of those we love and out at the office and out to all the families and you're damned right that includes Christmas dinner type of poly relationship.

I've also have some friends with benefits over the years. I sort of have one right now. So do my partners.

And maybe every year or so I go to an orgy, and maybe I fuck somebody I don't even know.

Are those relationships all the same? No. Are they equally important to me? No.

That last one isn't even a relationship in my book, just a recreational activity. And I don't expect applause for it.

But I also don't expect applause for my family. I'm in my family for the family, not for your approval.

Another thing I don't expect, or at least would like not to have to expect, is to hear a lot of smarmy holier-than-thou implication that somehow YOU deserve applause for your committed relationship(s). If your relationships aren't reward enough, maybe you shouldn't be in them.

I'm also not interested in a lot of crap about how hard things are for you as a special, special committed person, and how you deserve so much more support than those casual sex types, because after all society just doesn't understand how noble you are, so of course any defense or support or identification with polyamory should revolve around how you do things, and why don't those casual sex whiners just shut up?

Give it a rest. You're not special.

October 27, 2010 1:50 PM  
Blogger Alan said...

Heh. I knew this post would stir up comments.

> ...because after all society just
> doesn't understand how noble you are,

This is actually a real problem. Most of society assumes we're *less* noble than average. That's why polys often find themselves shunned by relatives, discriminated against if they come out at work, automatically discriminated against by judges in child-custody cases because the standard is "what's best for the child", etc. etc.

All those things would be justified if we were indeed cruddier people than average. We can't pretend that assumption isn't happening -- we have to fight it.

October 27, 2010 2:27 PM  
OpenID doomweasel said...

But trying to gain public respect by participating in the dis-respect of another group of people (i.e. people who have casual sex) isn't the right way to go about it.

October 27, 2010 2:58 PM  
Blogger Alan said...

> isn't the right way to go about it.

Agreed.

October 27, 2010 3:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Coming late to this debate. I think the issues is not so much who is being noble and who is being a slut, but more which interests we're trying to protect here. What is really the value of having all of these different lifestyles fall under the "poly" umbrella? If the purpose of organizing as a movement is, say, obtaining legal status for relationships, what do people who pursue casual sex with multiple partners have to gain from saying, "we are also poly"?

I'm thinking of the different issues that divide the gay community. While some see the marriage equality issue as being in the forefront, many resent it, saying that it protects people of a certain class and set of interests rather than the more vulnerable members of the community, who would perhaps prefer that more emphasis be placed on preventing hate crimes. I think with the poly community these diverse interests are even more extreme. Seeking respect and dignity as a person, no matter the number of people one beds, is an issue that many monogamous single people face. Which is why I'm not really sure what sort of advantage one gets from saying "I'm poly" under these circumstances. Which common interests do we have, as a community, or as a movement, that really require the self definition?

Finally, I think the argument of who gets to include or exclude whom is a very privileged argument to have. I wish we spent more energy protecting people who lose custody of their kids, or who lose their jobs, than debating hairsplitting differences.

October 27, 2010 4:24 PM  
Anonymous DeborahB said...

Being a long time political activist, I understand why labels are needed and that it is necessary for those within a social movement to be the ones to define what they label themselves to be, in this case polyamory, otherwise the mass media looking for titillation will do it for them in a demeaning way thus undermining the effectiveness of the movement. The corporation-owned mass media will do it anyway, so it behooves us to do it the correct way right from the start.

The discussion, of what is polyamory is and is not, is a healthy sign, but to define polyamory amongst ourselves based upon this abusive patriarchcal society’s norms is asking for sure trouble in the long run.

There has always been infighting within every social movement (that is nothing new to me) because every person is approaching it from a different direction. I beg your pardon, but I feel that EVERYONE IS SPECIAL and is needed in some way in the polyamory movement.

I don’t care how someone conducts their relationships as long there is a general consensus as to what polyamory is and is not. If a few people want to discriminate, they will find any excuse to do so, but it will not stop a whole social movement dead in its tracks if it is actually legit in the larger picture of human progress.

October 27, 2010 4:39 PM  
Anonymous DeborahB said...

Pardon me, I meant to say "I don't care how someone conducts their relationships as long there is a general consensus as to what polyamory is."

October 27, 2010 4:54 PM  
Blogger James K. Collins said...

I find that many transparently opportunistic lechers (of all genders) cocks their fingers and say, "Hey, babe — I'm polyamorous."

And they do this for about 6 months, whereon they learn the downsides to pointless smarmy behaviour (people turning up their noses, groups of pissed-off exes, angry friends OSOs who dislike drama) and start learning to behave with concern for the other people and their relationships and boundaries.

It's almost tempting to argue that those folks SHOULD say, "Hey babe - I'm trying to learn about polyamory."

Not that they would, I'm just sayin'.

October 27, 2010 7:10 PM  
OpenID morgaath said...

At one point in my life I was spending all my time at an ex's apartment, having sex with many of the wonderful women who also hung out there. Just a bunch of friends with benefits, young, and having fun. I was not in a relationship with any of them...except friendship. We all know about each other.

At no point would I considered what we had to be polyamory... even though I was openly polyamorous at the time.

October 28, 2010 12:03 AM  
Anonymous Angi said...

"Look, you can't have it both ways. If what one is interested in is casual sex, that's perfectly fine. But if so, while there's nothing "morally wrong" about your choice as long as you respect the people involved, you can't really expect your relationships to be treated in the same way that serious committed relationships are treated."

I don't think that asking for casual sex to be accepted under the umbrella of poly is necessarily asking to have it both ways. I'm only in two serious relationships right now, and if I also had something more casual going on, I wouldn't want or expect to have that additional relationship taken as seriously by others. But I would still consider it part of my being poly, if that makes sense.

I feel like my husband is a good example of this: he has yet to find someone to really have a relationship with, and is still uncertain whether he really wants an additional serious relationship. He likely won't be able to answer that question until (if) he meets the right person. So, right now, if he ends up hooking up with people in a more casual way, is he not polyamorous, but something else? Is he not polyamorous until he's in love with two people at once? That just seems like a silly distinction to me. And what if he decides that he really *doesn't* think he wants an additional serious partner, but remains always open to the possibility that someone will come along who changes his mind? What's the correct label for that?

Like I said above, I prefer not using the term polyamory in situations that are explicitly only permitted to be about sex. While I see nothing wrong with such arrangements for those who desire them, I don't think poly is the most accurate label for an "I'm only allowed to get some on the side with no feelings involved" arrangement. Lines do have to be drawn somewhere as to what a label means, and I think "polyamorous" at least indicates an openness to the possibility of more serious relationships. But the idea that anyone who happens to currently be only having casual encounters is not entitled to the term "polyamory" doesn't sit well with me at all. How many non-poly people have periods in their lives when they're only having casual sex, either while seeking something more committed or because they aren't interested in anything more committed at that particular time and just want to have fun? I see no reason why poly people can't behave similarly.

Maybe, partially, this is a semantic issue tied up partially in the degree to which we see a specific relationship as a polyamorous relationship, vs. seeing ourselves as polyamorous individuals in a way more akin to sexual orientation.

October 28, 2010 12:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The most frequent cases of labeling or snobbery is the "swinging isn't poly" or "polygamy (eg. Mormons) isn't true poly. The main point of all the snobbishness I see is to try to get people to understand that poly isn't all about the sex.

We try to legitimize our life choices to those who don't understand and make them see we aren't sexual degenerates. I try to put it another way. Polyamorous people approach relationships in much the same way as monogamous people do. Some are out for sex, others life-long commitment most somewhere in between. The difference lies in the fact that we believe we don't need to leave a perfectly good relationship to build another perfectly good one.

October 28, 2010 1:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I see it in the comments right here, right now. The "emptiness" of "casual sex" "those of us who maintain serious multiple relationships"

In my experience, sex is only empty when you are. You bring yourself to every human experience you have. As a relationship professional I don't see how any human relationship can be anything but serious. The "older" polys also talk about experiencing casual sex as a "stage" as if those who enjoy a more open sexual life are just polyamorous "teenagers" who haven't "matured" to the more "adult" "responsible" way of being poly with LOVELOVELOVE. Whenever people feel superior, and most people feel superior to others most of the time, the way you speak will reflect that and those who hear/read it will understand that you are saying you are better than they are...

October 28, 2010 7:25 AM  
Anonymous R_of_RMC said...

I've not noticed much separation or distinction in my local poly community. Everyone from decades-long closed triads to full-out open swingers seem to be there...and everything in between. And from what I've seen, there seems to be rather open acceptance of everyone as legitimate members of the polyamory community. Guess we're just lucky?

Now as a gay man in a closed triad, I HAVE actually gotten the odd feelings from the gay community. While the poly community welcomes us equally, the gays give us the odd looks. A gay couple who says they are in an open relationship would be no big deal...folks would just shrug and say "who isn't?". But when we reveal we are a closed relationship of three, the other gays look at as if we were green aliens landing from a spaceship! LOL

October 28, 2010 9:05 AM  
Blogger Pagan Topologist said...

Should this blog ban anonymous comments? I am beginning to find the anonymous comments to be rather negative.

October 28, 2010 12:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I really liked reading Matisse's comment. I realize that I have been guilty of looking down on "polyfuckarists", and that in doing so I've been kind of a jerk. I'll try to do better.

October 28, 2010 3:46 PM  
Anonymous Dawn Davidson said...

Pagan Topologist--it's something to think about. I don't think it's necessary to require people to be open under their real names, but it might be worth asking them to at least go through the process of setting up an account with a consistent handle.

I find this particular debate (polyamory vs. polygamy vs. swinging etc) to be pretty done to death. It's driven me off of a number of lists. MY personal take on it is that it's a big venn diagram, like Franklin's Map of Non-Monogamy that Alan posted at the end of the original post. We can argue till the cows come home where the exact boundaries of every subset lie, but it won't change the fact that there are OVERLAPPING sets for each one. Some polyamorists are polygamous, and some polygamists are polyamorous--and some are NOT. Some swingers fit into polyamory as well -- and some do not. Personally, I hold the line at polyamory vs. cheating; I don't think it's possible to do both at the same time in the same relationship. However, some CHEATERS (in one relationship) might also be POLYAMOROUS in another of their relationships.

Ultimately, I think we as a community do better to define ourselves by What We ARE, rather than What We Are NOT. So I ID myself as a polyamorous person, and I say that I have multiple long-term loving partnerships. I also have the occasional "fuckbuddy," and what others might consider "casual sex," because it doesn't happen more than once. But for me, this usually happens within a context of long-term COMMUNITY, so I tend not to see it as "casual." But YMMV.

Ultimately, you get to define your OWN relationships FOR YOU, and I get to define MY own relationships FOR ME. But you don't get to define MY relationships for me, and I don't get to define yours for you.

Where that gets tricky of course, is where we try to define what POLYAMORY means for the COMMUNITY. And that's where I say "go back to talking about what we ARE, not what we are NOT." Polyamory is "many loves." Loving More Non-profit describes their mission as "supporting relationship choice." One of those choices is whether or not to include sex in the relationship. The "standard definition" says it's about "open and honest relationships with the full knowledge and consent of everyone involved." The Poly Leadership Network folks agreed this past weekend that these relationships are between "consenting adults." These are all good, in my view.

Putting it all together, I come up with:
"Polyamory is about relationship choice, and the ability to have 'many loves' -- which are neither required to be nor prohibited from being sexual -- and which are open and honest relationships between consenting adults with the full knowledge and consent of everyone involved."

Do we really need more than that?

October 28, 2010 3:57 PM  
Anonymous lalouve said...

"We try to legitimize our life choices to those who don't understand and make them see we aren't sexual degenerates."

Actually, I expect even the people who think me a sexual degenerate to respect me as a person. Their opinion on the morality of my lovelife is irrelevant to the duty to respect other human beins, and I wouldn't dream of changin my behaviour so that people can 'respect' me as 'a moral person', or, for that matter, 'a real polyamorist.' Mostly they won't, but no one ever gained respect of any kind by catering to other people's prejudices, either.

October 29, 2010 4:33 PM  
Blogger Polyamory Paradigm said...

http://polyamoryparadigm.blogspot.com/2010/11/it-means-what.html

November 05, 2010 12:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Responding to the whole thread, not to any one poster....:

Poly-amory means, literally, multiple-love, and it's really a matter of just that: loving. It's NOT mainly or centrally about sex. Polyamorous people can certainly have casual sex, if they wish, but they don't call that love. They call it ... well, sex.

November 09, 2010 3:04 PM  
Anonymous Pete said...

For me as an Australian, this is kind of fun - you mean there are enough or you guys that you can actually have factions? Cool!

We definitely have this debate even amongst our tiny numbers, as we still have the wiiiiide diversity.

The general vibe is that ethical and honest relationship is part of it, but relationship can be defined very broadly. For example, we don't tend to find that people who are *exclusively* in it for sex seek us out. And we do find that the community is overwhelmingly sex positive. Those of us who identify as polyfidelitous tend to be a little less comfortable about that in my observation, perhaps because they are in the main older and bear scars from past media beat-ups very focussed on the transgressive sex angle.

November 15, 2010 5:55 AM  
Anonymous Deanna said...

Who can say that a one-night stand is always something other than love? For everyone? While I have experienced quite a few one-night stands that were purely physical, I have had many so-called casual sexual encounters which truly enriched my life. When I look back and remember them, I feel my heart expand toward the people I was with. I did open up my self and my heart to them even knowing I would not see them again. We connected in more ways than the physical. So, don't tell me that casual sex can't be love. Perhaps what needs redefining around here is the word "love."

November 27, 2010 5:24 PM  
Anonymous sergio said...

it all depends in how amorous you are, if you are able to love a stranger by looking her or him in the eyes and are a lost romantic who look at the sea waves and gets goose skin. Then it is easier to be poly-amorous, since lots of one night stands, even flirticious moments can count simply as love if you feel the rush, and been more than one would be plural = poly. Sex is just the best way of expressing without words, just a different language. Those more talented could use music or maths, for us common mortals we will always have sex, and us romantic will always have love.

May 07, 2011 2:58 AM  

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