There’s nothing wrong with Monogamy, some of our best friends are monogamous. And there are some beautiful and rare cases where high school sweethearts fall in love, get married, stay faithful and make passionate love way into their 90s. We haven’t actually met any of them, but we’ve been told they exist. It sounds pretty kinky to us, but who are we to judge? Joking aside, there are all kinds of people in this world and there are some who feel that the shape of their heart is truly monogamous. If you find that committing to one other person for the rest of your life offers you the security, intimacy, depth and familiarity that your heart yearns for, we say Hurray! We celebrate your truth in whatever form it takes. We don’t mean to sound all righteous and start claiming that monogamy is some kind of social perversion. We understand there are a number of mammals in the animal kingdom such as beavers, otters, wolves, some bats and foxes that practice pair bonding for life. (Out of an approximated 5,000 species of mammals, it’s estimated that 3 to 5 percent are monogamous.) We feel the only true perversion is when an individual starts to believe that they can get all their needs met from one other individual. At it’s core monogamy is a sexually and romantically exclusive relationship.Most mainstream marriages may use a lot of words but the basic pronouncement that a man and wife are not to have sex with anyone else “until death do you part.” Does that then mean you’re not allowed to fantasize, flirt with or ever go on a date someone of the opposite sex? It’s generally assumed we can get our needs for conversation and companionship met by our friends, what about deeper emotional, spiritual, and/or touch needs. You may not have to give up your sexual fidelity in order to explore more modern options. The key to exploring free love safely is maintaining your integrity, ethics. If something in your exploration activates your guilt it’s like you’ve triggered a time bomb. Relationship suffering happens only to the degree that you are out of integrity with yourself and your partners. That’s why we suggest you start the process of re-defining monogamy with an open and honest conversation
The problem with using Non-Monogamy as a umbrella term that covers all types of non traditional love styles is two fold:
1) it implies that monogamy is the norm and that all other ways of relating are mutations.
2) Included under it’s broad blanket is cheating.
To solve this problem we sometimes say “responsible non-monogamy” but that’s quite a mouthful! Nine Syllables where as “Free Love” weighs in with an savvy two!
But if you want to meet in the middle you could always rely on Latin rooted: Polyamory. Polyamory is defined as “loving more than one”, and from it’s Latin roots literally translates to: “many loves.” Some extreme Poly activist argue “ that it is the ability to love more than one and it doesn’t even have to be at the same time.” They may take it even farther and say that if you have the capacity to love BOTH your mother and your father than you are polyamorous. This is a well intended attempt to make polyamory feel more accessible to everyone, but I tend to think this approach is both ineffective and potentially damaging. If we adopted this stance it would follow that most everyone is polyamorus…and then the word doesn’t further our identity as a community. I feel the Poly movement is better served if we agree that poly is NOT for everyone, rather those who are capable of high ethical standards and personal growth. In any case it is generally agreed that the many loving can be sexual, emotional, spiritual or any combination of the three, according to the desires and agreements of the individuals involved. It can also be used to describe people who are simply open to having more than one relationship even if they are single or celibate. The possibilities are boggling.
To empower your sense of possibility but decrease your confusion we offer a mini dictionary with terms and definitions to decode the Poly Jargon.
CASUAL RELATIONSHIP a physical and emotional relationship between two unmarried people who may have a sexual relationship
CIRCLE FAMILIES and INTIMATE NETWORK These are politically correct terms for non monogamous relationship structures wherein everyone is married and they imply equality and community.
CLOSED RELATIONSHIP. A relationship in which the members have agreed to not make love with anybody outside their current relationship structure.
COMPERSION. This term was coined by the ZEGG community in Germany this term refers to the positive feelings one gets when a lover is enjoying another relationship. Also referred to as the opposite of "jealous" feelings.
ETHICAL SLUTTERY A new term defined by Dossie Easton and Catherine A. Liszt. A slut as "a person of any gender who has the courage to lead life according to the radical proposition that sex is nice and pleasure is good for you." It refers to anyone willing to engage and accept the pleasure of sex in ethical and open way.
EXPANDED FAMILY and INTENTIONAL FAMILY and FAMILY OF CHOICE. Where three or more lovers consciously chose each other as family. There is the potential for all family members to live together and be sexual with each other based on mutual attraction, but this is not required.
GROUP MARRIAGE. A single-family unit in which all members are considered to be married to one another.
GROUP SEX. A sexual exchange involving more than two participants at the same time. Also known as an Orgy.
HINGE. The "person in the middle" of a VEE relationship without whom, the other lovers would not be together.
INTIMATE NETWORK. An tight community of friends, lovers, ex lovers and future lovers who all know each other and get together for celebrations.
LIBERAMORY is a philosophy developed by +Amor+. He combines the root words for liberation and love to propose a way of relating wherein lovers don’t try to protect each other from jelousy by negotiating agreements. Instead they see negative emotions as growth opportunities and take complete personal responsibility and places no restrictions on the ones they love.
LINE MARRIAGES. Intergenerational marriages intended to outlive the original members by adding new spouses. This is seen as an ideal way to care for the children and the elderly in a family unit.
MENAGE A TOIS A french term for sex between three people.
MFM, FMF, FFF, MMM These acronyms indicates the genders of the members in a triad.
MIXED REALATIONSHIPS Relationships that have people from different races, cultures or backgrounds. This definition can extend to having both heterosexual and homosexual members within a relationship.
MULTI-PARTNERED A lesser used term for Polyamory. It is simply a having more than one sexual or intimate relationship at a time.
NRE or NEW RELATIONSHIP ENERGY. A Term coined in mid 80's by Zhahai Stewart to refer to the intense and addictive bio-chemical rush of falling in love. Relationships are said to become more sustainable or to dissolve after NRE wears off.
OPEN RELATIONSHIP or OPEN MARRIAGE. A committed partnership, sometimes a marriage, where both partners are open to active sexual and/or intimate relationships with other people. The term was coined by the O'Neils in their 1970’s book called “Open Marriage.”
POD. This playful term is a dolphin reference for any group of three or more polyamorous lovers.
POLY. Nick name or short hand for polyamory.
POLYCURIOUS: A person who is new to poly and interested in exploring, expririmenting and experiencing polyamory. Also sometimes called a POLYWOG.
POLYFAMILIES. A Marriage of multiple Lovers, but all members do not necessarily not consider themselves married to all other members as they do in a group marriage or circle.
POLYFIDELITY. Sounds like the name of a bank, doesn’t it? This term was Coined in the late 70's by Kerista community in San Francisco. It refers to a relationship of more than two individuals who have made a commitment to keep sexual contact exclusive within the group. In other words, they restrict sexual activity with outside partners. More partners can be added with everyone's consent.
POLYGAMY. A marriage in which individuals have multiple spouses. Also known as a Plural Marriage.
POLYGYNY. A marriage in which men have multiple wives who may live together or each may have their own homes.
POLYANDRY. A marriage in which women have multiple husbands.
PLURAL MARRIAGE. a form of polygyny associated with the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the 19th-century and with present-day splinter groups from that faith. It is also associated with an evangelical splinter group which advocates Christian Plural Marriage
PIVOT POINT or HINGE. The person who is closely connected to two individuals who are not particularly emotionally involved with each other. This is the person at the bottom, or hinge, of a “V.”
PRIMARY. The partner who has seniority or the strongest bond. They are considered the highest priority and given the most time and energy. Often primary partners live together or are committed by marriage or ceremony.
SECONDARY. The second relationship in terms of time or priority.
SWINGING . Often refered to as “THE LIFESTYLE” used to be called “WIFE SWAPPING.” Includes a wide range of sexual activities commonly conducted as an organised social activity between three or more people. It’s often engaged in by a primary couple and can be seen as a modified version of monogamy, involving sexual exploration without romantic or emotional bonds. Friendships and Bisexuality amongst women are considered OK but usually male homosexuality is usually not. The Lifestyle subculture has it’s own conferences, gatherings, parties, magazines, websites, email groups.
SWINGLE. A Person who is in the swinging lifestyle as a single. “Swingle men frequently use swingle women to gain access to the lifestyle events” According to the urban dictionary it can also refer to a single bisexual.
TANTRA is a Sanskrit word that literally means “expansion through awareness.” An esoteric and embodied spiritual discipline that involves an integration of the opposites. Western Tantra Partners may practice sacred sex to worship the goddess or transcend the sensual experiences of the body together.
TERTIARY. This is a less frequently used name for the second person in a triangle or a threesome.
THIRD. The person in an ongoing relationship who is not as active or intimate as primary or secondary. Note: Many people don’t use the above terms because they imply hierarchy.
TRIAD or TRIANGLE. Three people involved in a loving relationship with any combination of intimate bonds. An EQUILATERAL TRIANGLE is where three people are equally involved with both of the others.
QUAD. A four way relationship, typically referring to two couples together or a foursome actually in relationship.
QUEER. A derogatory term for effeminate gay males which has been proudly re-appropriated as sociopolitical term for any non normative sexual or gender orientation, anatomy, or identity. In it’s broadest sense it includes gender normative heterosexuals whose sexual behaviors place them outside the heterosexual-defined mainstream such as practioners of BDSM or polyamory.
VEE. A three-person relationship where one person has two lovers, but those two lovers are not as closely connected with each other. Geometric arrangements involving four persons can be described as an “N” or “Z”.