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Thursday, March 4, 2010

How do you define Polyamory?

A lot of articles I read, and people I speak with, communicate Poly as being a concept (or even a hard set of rules) to which they believe their lifestyle must conform within reason. Things such as “Poly is loving more than one person. There’s no such thing as a single poly.” Or, “Being Poly means I can love whomever I want, whenever I want and if anyone tries to restrict that I don’t date them”. Interestingly when the person making the last statement is pressed for more definition it often seems that saying “. . . love whomever I want. . .” equates to having sex. I’ve also heard more than one person state that being Poly is the equivalent to having Open Relationships.

I’m constantly amazed how many people will give a definition of Poly that relies on the concept of Love and often excludes sex specifically. Yet when asked to define their relationship concepts with respect to Poly, rules or ideals about sex often top the list. Almost as if the concept of Polyamory is well understood but implementation is sexually focused. I’m not saying that is wrong, just a bit surprising to me.

My belief is that Polyamory is about defining a relationship based on the idea of multiple loves. With that in mind, anything goes for a definition. You can have a “Don’t ask, Don’t tell” type relationship where nobody talks about their ‘other’ relationships. Maybe it means your other relationships are purely physical rather than involving an emotional component. Or it could be you use terms such as Primary, Secondary, OSO (Other Significant Other) and base your relationships on traditional definitions of those terms. Or maybe, your relationships are none of the above. Although though several of those concepts aren't something I use with my relationships I can respect them if they are based on multiple loves.

I've even heard folks who live primarily in the Swing community define their lifestyle as polyamorous. Most of those definitions focus on the sexual aspect rather than the emotional. Again, I'm not saying that is wrong but it is a bit surprising and I've come to believe that Poly and Swing lifestyles often overlap.

In summary, there are a lot of different flavors of Polyamory. As the joke goes, ask 10 poly's their definition and you will get 10 different answers.

So what is your definition, idea, vision, or dream of Polyamory? No right or wrong answers here, and no judgment. I would love to hear a new poly configuration I've never heard of before so come on and share!!

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