brynndragon: (Poly Geek)
[personal profile] brynndragon
Does there already exist a term for someone who can be either monogamous or polyamorous?

If not, I propose "variamorous".

Discuss.

Date: 2013-01-04 02:43 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] etherial.livejournal.com
While a given relationship can be monogamous or polyamorous, I don't really see how one could flip-flop between the two. Fundamentally, an experienced polyamour in a monogamous relationship is still polyamorous, just as a bisexual person in a same-sex relationship is still bisexual.

Date: 2013-01-04 02:57 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] benndragon.livejournal.com
Actually, there is a clear distinction between someone who has a need to at least be able to have multiple lovers/SO or they will be actively unhappy (e.g. this LW and several of the commentators, oh and also me), and someone who is perfectly fine both with having multiple lovers/SOs and with having only one lover/SO indefinitely/forever. Calling the second person poly while they are in a monogamous relationship seems to miss the point of that person's actual relationship orientation, as does calling them monogamous in the same situation.

Your comment also seems to confound "polyamorous" with "anyone who has ever had multiple lovers/SOs regardless of their current behavior", which makes it not a particularly useful identifier given how many people go through experimental phases.

Date: 2013-01-04 03:05 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] etherial.livejournal.com
Calling the second person poly while they are in a monogamous relationship seems to miss the point of that person's actual relationship orientation

I'm gonna go ahead and disagree with you there, but it's your party.

Date: 2013-01-04 03:53 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kyosokun.livejournal.com
Think of it like this: Is a bisexual girl in a relationship with another girl therefore gay, instead of bisexual?

Date: 2013-01-04 04:01 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kyosokun.livejournal.com
In the same way, is the person who can be both poly or monogamous suddenly poly if in a poly relationship, and monogamous when not?

Date: 2013-01-04 04:06 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] benndragon.livejournal.com
I definitely think of poly as being more like being gay than like being bi. Just like bi can be about gender not really mattering as well as two genders being attractive for different reasons, so can this concept be about someone who doesn't actually care whether their relationships are mono or poly as well as someone who likes aspects of both of them and thus is happy to be either.

To me, the distinction between being poly and having a poly relationship is whether or not you need to be having poly relationships. I fall in love and sleep with multiple people, that's a non-negotiable part of me, so I identify as poly. Not all poly people are such for the same reason, of course. But I feel like calling someone who is merely fine with having poly relationships but doesn't actively need them to be happy by the same term as the one used for me creates potential confusion, particularly in the "predicting future behavior" department.

Date: 2013-01-04 08:51 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] australian-joe.livejournal.com
Oh, interesting. I see poly like being bi, in this case.

A bisexual person in just one relationship is someone I'd still think of as bi, because of the potential to desire sex and relationship with more than the one gender they currently have sex and relationship with.

A polyamorous person in just one relationship likewise has the potential for sex and relationship with more than one person.

In both cases, even if they are perfectly content with the one option they have chosen, that doesn't seem to me to reduce their potential to want and have sex or relationship with more than that one option.

Then again, there are people who only want to be with one person, say they are wired to only want or be capable of sex or relationship with one person... but have no problem at all with their partner being with other people too. I think of these people as poly.

I'm aware I'm in the minority there, but for me, being open to one's partner being with others is the touchstone for being poly. And yes, that would mean I think that people who themselves have sex or relationships with more than one person, but are not OK with those people being with any others, are *not* poly.

In all cases these are what I'd privately think. I would only ever refer to people by their stated self-identifications, no matter how frustrated or sad I privately feel about those identifications.

Date: 2013-01-05 03:02 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] zandperl.livejournal.com
A bisexual person in just one relationship is someone I'd still think of as bi, because of the potential to desire sex and relationship with more than the one gender they currently have sex and relationship with.

I identify as monogamous and mostly heterosexual. So I know it's totally cliche, but I'm so happy in my current (10-year) relationship that I don't really wonder anymore if I really am 100% hetero b/c I don't look at other people, girls *or* guys. My point is that extrapolating your definition of bi to hetero, I don't know that I really fit into hetero anymore, but I definitely identify as hetero more than I do as asexual.

Date: 2013-01-05 03:11 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] australian-joe.livejournal.com
Yeah, this is what we get for trying to shoehorn three distinct dimensions (behaviour, inclination, identification) into a single coarsely-grained digital scale.

If we persist in using one scale, I think identity has to win, but it obscures a lot of information.

Date: 2013-01-04 03:00 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] plymouth.livejournal.com
I think there's a non-trivial difference between "person who happens to only be dating one person but is still open to finding others (whether actively looking or not)" and "person in a monogamous relationship, actively avoiding finding other people to date (and acknowledging that if they do find another person they are interested in they will be forced to choose)". Plenty of people who I know who call themselves polyamorous would be involved in the former but would never even consider the latter. People who would consider the latter may certainly ALSO be considered polyamorous but they might instead OR in addition be considered this other term Brynn is discussing.

Date: 2013-01-04 04:43 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] londo.livejournal.com
> Fundamentally, an experienced polyamour in a monogamous relationship is still polyamorous, just as a bisexual person in a same-sex relationship is still bisexual.

The latter half of your sentence seems to perfectly encapsulate what I think Brynn is talking about (and a status I seem to possess), which is weird, because the first half of your sentence argues the opposite.

Date: 2013-01-04 05:07 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] plymouth.livejournal.com
This seems like roughly:

"Fundamentally, an experienced red person in a yellow relationship is still red, in the same way that a purple person in a pink relationship is still purple".

It seems like a worldview that ignores the possibility of orange.

Date: 2013-01-04 11:54 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] etherial.livejournal.com
I think [livejournal.com profile] londo is correct that my initial comment is poorly worded.

I may be thinking too much like a mathematician (or an outsider), but I think that given one accepts polyamory as valid, a polyamour can still enter closed relationships, including those of size one (e.g. single), size two (e.g. traditional marriage), size three (e.g. triads and Vs), or any size, and still be considered poly. I (again, outsider talking, so my lack of need to label does not override a general want to label) see no reason to differentiate between "A person who considers themself to be polyamorous but does not enter closed pair relationships", "A person who considers themself to be polyamorous who is willing to enter closed pair relationships", or "A person who considers themself to be polyamorous and is currently in a closed pair relationship" unless one's true goal is either to describe "A person who is not as enlightened as me who still engages in closed pair relationships" or "A person who claims to be poly but don't want to sleep with me".

I just don't see this word as being of much use, unless one thinks that this word will help end the "monogamy vs. polyamory" debate, which I don't think it will, since, in addition to the backhanded meanings listed above, mathematically speaking, monogamy is a proper subset of, not an alternative to, polyamory, and I don't think that strengthening the border around monogamy is the way to go.

I may be over-thinking things, so I will just answer [livejournal.com profile] brynndragon's question with "Apparently not".

Date: 2013-01-04 12:40 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] benndragon.livejournal.com
Ah, I see the problem. You're assuming any person who has ever engaged in having multiple lovers/SOs simultaneous identifies as poly. I'm suggesting that not all such individuals do, and/or that there's a subset who currently do but would identify as something in the middle if such a term/concept existed.

In fact, I'd argue that the utility of forcing all such individuals into the poly box is for the monogamous, who have personal and social reasons to want to separate out people who are strictly (serially) monogamous from those who are not (including behavior policing).

Date: 2013-01-04 05:25 pm (UTC)
auros: (OT3)
From: [personal profile] auros
You're assuming any person who has ever engaged in having multiple lovers/SOs simultaneous identifies as poly.

Which is a pretty major assumption when you consider the wide range of forms for responsible / consensual non-monogamy. (Swingers who use structured parties and clubs, people who have an open relationship physically but agree not to make serious commitments to other partners, the monogamish folks who don't carry on with an outside partner on an ongoing basis...)

Polyflexible works for me, though, to describe what you're talking about. Being willing to be in a poly relationship is fairly clearly a minority position, so it seems fine to flag that. (And I should say that whatever the term, it would describe me.)

Date: 2013-01-04 08:58 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] etherial.livejournal.com
You're assuming any person who has ever engaged in having multiple lovers/SOs simultaneous identifies as poly.

Well, no. With my Alien Sociologist hat on, I would identify them as Poly in my notes. With my Pansexual Ally hat on, I would identify them however they told me to identify them.

Date: 2013-01-04 11:18 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] plymouth.livejournal.com
I don't think Brynn is saying (and certainly I am not saying) that the folks she is talking about are not ALSO polyamorous. It's a subclassification. Similarly to how all bisexuals are queer but not all queers are bisexual. If you insisted that there was no need to subdivide queer to differentiate bisexual from gay and lesbian I think we'd have a similar disagreement. But clearly you DON'T think that, so I'm still baffled.

Date: 2013-01-04 02:48 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] londo.livejournal.com
Would it be wrong to come away from this thinking that in your head, Brynn's original question is analogous to "I need a word that can be used to describe a rectangle OR a square?"

Date: 2013-01-05 04:54 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] etherial.livejournal.com
More like "What do you call someone who sometimes wears clothes and sometimes wears pants?"

Date: 2013-01-05 08:29 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] benndragon.livejournal.com
Maybe I should introduce you to my companion, who is rather skilled/talented at poly (he gives me really good poly-specific relationship advice on a fairly regular basis, he doesn't get jealous, he's been involved with very-poly-me for over a decade, etc.) but is also perfectly fine being in monogamous relationships and does not identify as poly. Or my old-new FwB who varies between poly and mono relationships based almost entirely on what a given SO prefers, who also doesn't identify as poly. Because apparently that would completely blow your mind.

Date: 2013-01-05 03:44 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] etherial.livejournal.com
Perhaps the word you are looking to coin is "quantamorous", a person with distinct and discrete relationship potential energy states.

Date: 2013-01-06 10:33 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] plymouth.livejournal.com
That, I think, is brilliant. I may start using it.
From: [identity profile] etherial.livejournal.com
I have copyright on it, so you'll owe me a nickel for every time you use it.

Date: 2013-01-04 02:54 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] plymouth.livejournal.com
The term I've heard used is "poly-flexible".

Date: 2013-01-04 03:00 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] benndragon.livejournal.com
You know, I have heard of that. But I really wanted something that didn't have poly or mono in it, because it creates a certain alignment perception (I feel that way about "monogamish" as well).

Date: 2013-01-04 03:37 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] plymouth.livejournal.com
That makes sense. Though in practice it seems like the folks I've actually known that are like this are biased enough one way or the other that those terms seemed appropriate. So it never occurred to me to look for another.

Date: 2013-01-04 03:38 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] benndragon.livejournal.com
Ah, fair enough. I know two people who might be more in the middle, but I am not sufficiently in their heads to know! I'm tempted to go ask them directly to see.

Date: 2013-01-04 06:08 am (UTC)
swashbucklr: (Storybook Love)
From: [personal profile] swashbucklr
I've been in both kinds of relationships, and can thrive in either, but I learn towards poly over monogamy.

Date: 2013-01-05 03:13 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] zandperl.livejournal.com
IMO "monogamish" includes "people who identify as mono but cheat" and "people who identify as poly but whose primary partner wants to impose mono upon them so the poly-identified person claims they're mono but cheats". This is definitely NOT what I think when I hear "poly-flexible".

Date: 2013-01-05 08:33 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] benndragon.livejournal.com
Oh, I didn't realize monogamish included cheating - I thought it was about sleeping with people outside of an established relationship but not so much getting emotionally involved with more than one person at a time, with everyone on board with that. I assumed no one would be stupid enough to condone breaking agreements with SOs. Please tell me why people think Dan Savage is so awesome?

Date: 2013-01-05 03:26 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] zandperl.livejournal.com
I expect Savage's intent was to exclude cheating (AFAIK he doesn't condone breaking agreements with SOs), but that is how I personally understand/use the word: someone who isn't strictly monogamous but doesn't identify as poly. To me that includes swingers, cheaters, people who play out cuckold fantasies, and more. I'm not saying that all of those have equal moral weight for me, just that the actual actions fall into the same category.

Date: 2013-01-04 05:51 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] eetmewithtoast.livejournal.com
Though I've heard polyflexible and monogamish, I don't use either. Which is odd, because I'm in a polyfidelitous relationship with two men who I consider to be both monogamous.

They are monogamous men in love with me, and that makes them able to somewhat tweak their internal jealousy and posession settings, though of course I expect it to be a very different situation when they're all in the same physical room, perhaps two years from now.

It helps that they were friends with each other before I got involved with the newer one, I think. It also helps that I'm polyfidelitous, I occasionally yoink a temporary boytoy but for the most part just have them. And am quite content with that.

I think that to a certain extent, they consider my polyamory to just be one of my quirks that's well worth their while to deal with, just like the moodswingy artistic temperment and the disgusting way I eat Smartfood popcorn.

Date: 2013-01-04 06:11 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] londo.livejournal.com
...so, how do you eat Smartfood?

Date: 2013-01-04 02:07 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] eetmewithtoast.livejournal.com
Hey now, a person's entitled to some secrets.

Date: 2013-01-04 08:16 pm (UTC)
lemasquegris: (hidden_face)
From: [personal profile] lemasquegris
Omni- or Inter- amory?

or is the use of omni- or inter- cause a subconscious relay to other identifiers? (Omni- makes me think of Jay from Clerks screaming "I'll fuck anything that mooooves!" and that may be an undesired parallel for some.)

Date: 2013-01-05 04:02 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] hfcougar.livejournal.com
So it appears what you are looking for is a word which corresponds to and falls on the polyamorous - monogamous scale, the way bisexual corresponds to and falls on the gay - straight scale. Yes?

Initially my gut response was "omni" but then I decided that was directly opposite to what was meant... an omnivore, on the meat - vegan scale, eats all of the above whenever they feel like it and in whatever combination, whereas presumably the middle-amorous person does not engage in all potential states of amory at all times.

Someone who is bisexual is open to either gay or straight relationships, but is not conducting relationships with all possible genders at all times. Unless they're also polyamorous. :P

Date: 2013-01-06 10:42 pm (UTC)
auros: (OT3)
From: [personal profile] auros
Someone who is bisexual is open to either gay or straight relationships, but is not conducting relationships with all possible genders at all times. Unless they're also polyamorous. :P

Hey, even a bi poly switch can be single at a particular moment... :-)

Date: 2013-01-11 04:04 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] londo.livejournal.com
Even in Camberville?

Date: 2013-01-11 04:15 pm (UTC)
auros: (Sequoia)
From: [personal profile] auros
Even in San Francisco. :-)

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