My first “poly” experience happened when I was seven. I was sitting with a group of friends and the question was asked, “Who is your best friend?” After naming a few people, I was told I could only have ONE best friend. I thought that was the dumbest thing I had ever heard, ” Why only one?! Who made up this rule?!” As I have been heard to say, I didn’t suddenly become poly one day, I came out the box this way. I have tried monogamy, was even married; but toward the end of that marriage we each had other lovers and we all knew about each other. I just don’t understand the purpose of monogamy in my world. Not saying no one should be monogamous, I have met many people who are quite successful at it. It’s just not for me. Since 2000 I have actively sought polyamorous relationships, and currently have a network of about 10 people (including lovers of lovers whom I am not involved with, but am supported by, and vice-versa). I am pretty sure a complex org chart might be useful in following it all, LOL! For me there has been a natural progression from Polyamory as a lifestyle choice/orientation to being involved in education and support; as I wish to advocate for other Polyamorous people. I would like my children to grow up in a world where being Poly is just as acceptable as any other group/orientation. When I look at the history of the GBLT community I can identify with those struggles. My girlfriend calls it the “Alphabet Soup.” But I think we need to add more letters:
And so on….
Or any other disenfranchised group whose rights are not being supported and applauded by our society. But because Polyamory is how I identify, it is the flag I have chosen to carry: as far as I can carry it, for as long as my arms can hold it. Until we look around at our world and see all people being treated with respect and appreciation for their uniqueness-es. My uniqueness. Being Polyamorous.
What is Polyamory? Polyamory is lifestyle/orientation in which an individual is capable of loving more than one person at a time and in which all people involved are knowledgeable/ in agreement of such an arrangement. Honesty is a key feature of Polyamory and thus elevates it above cheating and infidelity.
What is Serial Monogamy? Monogamy is a relationship dynamic in which only two people are committed to each other. Serial Monogamy is a series of these relationships, with distinct beginning and end, one after another.
What is a Primary Relationship? One’s main relationship (may be a couple or group).
What is a Secondary Relationship? Relationships not included in main (or primary) relationship. These often take up less time, with less commitment and/or fewer responsibilities than the main relationship(s).
What is an Open-vs-Closed (Poly-Fidelity) Relationship?
Open: Primary couple/group allow members to see others (Secondaries) “on the outside” (this may or may not include guidelines and/or veto power)
Closed: No relationships outside Primary group. Also called Poly-Fidelity
What is Veto Power (Guidelines)?
A partner gets to say, “NO WAY!” if they feel there is something they can’t live with, or makes them uncomfortable.
Other examples might be:
o “Come Home”
o “Use Condoms”
o “I must meet the other person first”
o “No Drugs”
o “No Drama”
What is Bi (Bisexual)? Having sexual desire/attraction for or interest in a romantic relationship with both genders.
What is Bi-Curious? Having an interest in the possibility of being with both genders .
What is Bi-Sensual? Having non-sexual affections for both genders.
What is Pansexual? Pansexuality does not view relationships as having gender choices. Therefore people who identify as transgender, gender-less, intersexed, etc would be included in the pansexual model.
What is an SO? Significant Other (this could be wife/husband, boyfriend/girlfriend, or Primary type of relationship).
What is an OSO? Other Significant Other (this is often of the same hierarchy level of the an SO, for example other members of a quad or triad).
What is an LTR? Long Term Relationship.
What is an LDR? Long Distance Relationship.
What is a Vee Relationship? A relationship dynamic where one person is in a relationship with two others, where those two others are not in a relationship with each other or are not as similarly related to each other (e.g they may be friends, but not lovers).
What is a Triad Relationship? A “couple” of three people with balanced emotional/sexual feelings between them all.
What is a Quad Relationship? A “couple” of four people with balanced emotional/sexual feelings between them all.
What is a MMM Relationship? A triad with three males.
What is a FFF Relationship? A triad with three females.
What is a MFM Relationship? A triad with two males and a female.
What is a FMF Relationship? A triad with two females and a male.
What is a Sister Wife? In a FMF relationship, how the two women may refer to each other. A way to describe such a relationship.
What is a Sister Wife or Metamour? Similar to a Sister Wife, but can be of any gender or number. The other person your love is also dating.
What is a Group (Tribe, Family, Network) Relationship? A relationship dynamic in which any or all of the other relationship dynamics may be present within the group, where there some sort of emotional and/or sexual connection between members. Some of the members may be friends, but share significant others.
Examples of Rules/Guidelines in a Polyamorous relationships (such as what constitutes Veto Power) For example:
“My boyfriend’s other girlfriend’s husband’s date.”
“Don’t ask, don’t tell”
“Don’t tell me the dirt, but I want to know where you are.”
“See whom you want, but I just don’t want to know anything.”
“See whom you want, but don’t rub my nose in it.”
What is Compersion? The opposite of jealousy; the feeling of joy for an SO/OSO having love for others and sharing that joy with them.
What are the different types of poly styles of relationships? “There are as many ways to do Poly as there are people doing it”
Married couple seeking a Third: a FMF. This is the most common Poly dynamic. The wife is often Bi or Bi-curious and the third is female and is often Bi. This relationship is often Closed
Primary/Secondary: Primary Couple with Secondary OSO’s. The couple could be married or LTR. There are often Guidelines for seeing others and may include Veto Power for each other. Or they could be seeing others as individuals
Triad (Triads can also form independently )
Vee (Vees can also form independently)
Primary Couple dating others together
Quads (and more): A group of four (or more) where the main focus of the relationship is on the four. Typically two emotionally/sexually “intermingled couples”
Tribe/Family: This can include a variety of relationship models with varying degrees of connectivity
LDR: Distance creates unique challenges for this relationship and any other relationships connected to this couple/group. Time is of the essence
Models so individualized, there is no real label to describe them
Here are ways in which Polyamory can be empowering:
Relieves the pressure of having to be someone’s “everything”
Ensures that all needs are met
Encourages self-examination and discussion to discover what is most fulfilling for people, beyond the assumptions and possible limitations of “normal” relationships
By being honest with others and with oneself, a person who may have had to “choose” between two or more friends, possible lovers, or some other interpersonal relationships, would be able to pursue those relationships and thus gain freedom to be who they truly are
Gives one space to be honest with not only themselves, but with all the people they love
Gives a sense of joy, peace, happiness, good feelings to share love on a level most non-poly people are able to understand
Allows one to experience the unique emotion of Compersion
Don’t have to compromise on getting needs met
Love becomes limitless when the boundaries of monogamy are lifted
Taking on new views of non-traditional relationships to move past societal/governmental/religious/parental/etc controls and restrictions of one’s personal choices in their lives and the lives of those they love
Relief from trying to hide other relationships; Encourages honesty
Accepting human nature as having the capability and even desire to love many, thereby accepting of one’s self
As one accepts themselves and accepts others, by embracing Polyamory and its ideals; other prejudices and conflicts become lessened and control over them becomes attainable
As societal mores slowly shift toward global acceptance, “Creating a Global Village“; the ideals and concepts found in Poly will begin to answer the needs people will recognize as they compare their personal relationships with those on a global scale.
Send your questions and comments to: Thizbee.Sez@gmail.com