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Monday, January 3, 2011

Passively Active Polyamorist

Lately I've been trying to listen to people a bit differently when they talk about polyamory. A lot of conversations I hear, and have, compare polyamory to swing. A lot of relationships also seem to have some overlap with the swinging lifestyle. At the same time, I've noticed two different perspectives on the question of poly vs. swing which has led me to a new theory. And no, I'm not going to try and settle the argument or bash either type.

What I'm thinking is that there may be two mentalities when it comes to polyamory. By the way, I'm talking about a specific set of feelings here and not encompassing the entire picture with respect to either poly or swing so I admit there are other aspects my theory may not address or include.

My theory is this. . .
There is one type of person practicing polyamory who has a conscious desire for multiple, fully involved partnerships. With intent and desire, they strive to continuously have multiple relationships. An important factor to this type of person is the variety of physical intimacy found with multiple partners. I would call this Active Polyamory.

The second type of person doesn't pursue multiple relationships with intent. Instead they literally don't possess the ability to deny feelings of love when experienced. Rather than actively seeking out relationships they prefer to allow for the possibility when they meet someone, allowing partnerships to evolve naturally. I would call this Passive Polyamory.

To expand on the theory a bit, the first type of person would be more inclined to have a swing component or aspect to their relationships. Their desire would include the physical aspect of relationships as strongly as it does the emotional connection, yet their poly beliefs may include some type of separation between emotional and physical relationships. This would allow for the possibility of more casual or physically focused relationships in addition to traditionally balanced physical and emotional relationships.

The second person wouldn't have such a separation between physical and emotional relationship components. They would likely require both aspects for a successful relationship and may even decline relationships that have a strong physical component yet lack a satisfying emotional connection.

The difference I'm proposing would help explain the never ending controversy between swing and poly. The Active Poly with a strong swing component in their beliefs would probably feel swing and poly overlap. The Passive Poly would likely believe that swing and poly are two completely different lifestyles and are possibly incompatible.

What do you think about this theory? Maybe? Maybe not? Do I need psychological counseling?


  1. Your theory makes complete sense to me! I am more of the Passive Poly person and completely relate to what you said about it.

  2. Missy,

    Thanks for the feedback!
    Good to know my delusions are still punctuated by moments of sanity :)


  3. I like your theory and I am feeling an identification with the more active component of Polyamory. For me, I notice that I am available for a variety of intimacies with others, both physical and emotional. Even though many would define me as a swinger, I have the capacity to have a deep love and appreciation for my play partners in the swinging environment.

    I have experienced slowly developing, loving and romantic relationships. Those tend to be the ones that feel like the so-called traditional relationships. Those relationships are usually navigated through the waters of someone who is either unsure of moving into a relationship that is non-monogamous. On the other hand, it might include a whole family of lovers, primaries, secondaries, and exes, or exes of exes who remain in the intimacy circle.

    I do not think you need counseling. In my opinion, your scenarios, essays, theories, and discussions provide valuable information for the healthy balance of the varieties of Poly Paradigms.

    Happy New Year!

  4. (copied manually)
    Dan Two-Feathers
    Attempted to post on blog but didn't work, so here it is!

    I Like your Theory and it does make sense. Speaking solely for myself, One could say, based on your theory, I am a bit of a Passive Poly but I think that both types can be compatible ...with each other if that is what the parties involved desire. It could be interesting!

  5. Kameshwari,
    Thanks for your thoughts! Knowing you are more swing inclined than I am, I was anxiously hoping you would comment.

    You came to mind as the theory was evolving and our conversations together helped a lot with its development. I also thought you might identify with the Active Polyamorist :)

    Thanks for the compliments :) Happy New Year to you also!


  6. Dan Two-Feathers!!!

    I met Dan last summer at Rock Creek Lodge.

    We had a wonderful discussion about Tantra and Polyamory.

    Please give Dan a big Hello from me.


  7. Kameshwari,
    I think you just gave him a big Hello yourself!

    If not I know you can connect with him (and me) on Facebook :)

    Small world isn't it!


  8. I think your theory makes sense. If you had told me twenty years ago that I'd end up in a poly relationship, I would have laughed. The idea would have been alien and appalling to me having grown up in a somewhat religious home. In a way I am an accidental poly. I wasn't looking for it; it came looking for me! I have never been in a swing relationship, but the idea is not appealing. I need that emotional bond. A deep connection of the heart, soul, and mind. Once those are established the physical part comes naturally. Without the emotional connection there can be no physical connection for me. So, if you are sampling to do some statistical analysis on your two groups, add me to the Passive group too! ~Claire~

  9. Hi Claire,
    Thanks for the comment!

    I think much as you do that if the emotional connection is solid the physical connection will follow and be satisfying as well.

    It's awesome to hear how you have found poly in your life and how happy it has made you!

    What do you think is the downside of being a Passive Poly?