But, I digress. . .
I don't know how things are where you live but, where I live there is quite a good sized poly community. Or at the least, it is developing into a fairly large community. At the same time I'm often surprised at how small the community can be.
The other day I was talking with someone who has a fairly extended poly family. While trying to understand all the relationships, which resulted in a flowchart, we found a connection between our families that we didn't even realize existed. Initially I found this quite amusing but after some time pondering the connection I became mildly concerned. You see, the other family and I don't share the same views on sexual safety. From my perspective, they are a bit lax despite having some restrictive up-front requirements such as producing STD testing paperwork.
Let me step back and explain the scenario a bit.
Imagine a poly family with a core of of about 6 members. Those six members have all produced STD testing paperwork to one another and many are fluid bonded. Most of those six however have other partners which may or may not have produced testing paperwork, and may or may not be fluid bonded. Many have more than 1 other partner. Doing the math that family already includes upward of 15 people at the second level. Add another level and that number almost doubles. The perception within that family is that because paperwork has been provided by the core group, and by most of those who have fluid bonded, they are sexually safe. To a certain point I agree.
But here is where I disagree. STD testing as proof of safety relies on a static situation but, people are dynamic. That's to say if someone is tested then adds no new partners who have other partners then yes, they are probably quite safe. But as soon as anyone is added who hasn't been tested the paperwork from their last STD test is for the most part worthless. Add in the delayed presentation of some diseases and it would be quite difficult to even get retested accurately for several months. Even then, any confidence in safety would again require a static situation for those past several months.
Though I admire the core group for their insistence on paperwork it made me wonder if they are truly safe or placing faith in a process that is at least mildly logically flawed, in my opinion. On the other hand, they are probably safer than many out there so am I being overly cautious and pessimistic?
The question I was left with was this; At what point does an extended poly family become a concern? How big can it grow, and how many levels should be evaluated, when considering safety?