PW 385: Everyone is doing poly wrong (the podcast!)

LustyGuy and Cunning Minx at Conflation in Wild West garb

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1:00 Announcements and Host Chat

4:15 Topic: Everyone is doing poly wrong and needs to die in a fire

lolcat_doing_it_wrong

I’ve been speaking at more conference than usual this quarter, and with getting out more comes more musing.

In particular, I’ve noticed that we poly folks can be quick to police and judge others who have different definitions from ours. My blog post on why we should stop the poly policing and promote curiosity and tolerance is here; I talk through all the major points and make a plea for stopping our tendency to be the poly police and instead focus on curiosity, understanding and tolerance of others who might practice polyamory differently from us. (Yes, even when we think they’re doing it 100% wrong!)

22:00 Feedback

Q wrote in about polyamory and Buddhism and how they relate. Your thoughts?

25:30 Happy Poly Moment

A wrote in to share a Happy Poly Valentine’s Day moment!

27:00 Thank you!

Thanks to Poly Weekly supporters Melissa, Davie and Nigel for their donations this week! Also, we welcome Madalyn to the Poly Weekly playmates!

28:30 Wrap up

Questions? Comments? Feedback? Email polyweekly@gmail.com or call the listener comment line at 802-505-POLY. And hey, why not attach an audio comment to that email? :-) Check out PolyWeekly at Blubrry.com. Share this with a friend or write an iTunes review!

9 comments to PW 385: Everyone is doing poly wrong (the podcast!)

  • EmilyTwist

    The problem with never saying “that’s not poly” is that at some point the word loses any definition. If poly can be whatever you want to call poly, then it’s not really anything. Of course people can use whatever labels they want, but I don’t think that it grants them immunity from being challenged on the use of those labels. But I do agree that we should be respectful and considerate to everyone.

    The meanings of words are agreements between people using a shared language. A word’s primary meaning depends on how it is most commonly used. There’s always some wiggle room, but it has its limits. I could go around calling a chair a book, but it would make communication very difficult.

    Interestingly, this sort of discussion happens frequently in the pagan community. They could provide some insight for the poly community in dealing with the tensions between being inclusive and having a coherent definition.

    • Olaf

      That is my point too. Being political correct and never challenge someone believe system that he is poly makes the word polyamory completely worthless.

      e.g. Criminals call themselves honest and trustworthy.
      e.g. Cheaters that leave homes wrecked after they played with one of the partners claiming to be poly.

      There should be at least a minimal sets of rules that defines polyamory or not.
      For me they are:
      1. The primary drive is love, not sex.
      2. All partners involved know about each other and gave consent.
      3. It goes both ways. You give the freedom of any of your partners to have a second partner too.

      Point 3 is in a lot of poly relationships a huge no-no.
      If “they” have a partner then they are poly, but when the partner gets someone else then they freak out.

      I do understand that when you discover polyamory from a cheating situation then it could be interesting.
      It is a transition, will you keep on hiding the relationship or will you go for point 2?

  • Olaf

    Lets invert the question.
    Assume it is not politically correct to tell someone that his relationship is not polyamorous.

    Then how will your tell the person that you are in a none-living relationship by a cheater only intended to home-wreck your family just for fun and sex?

    If you avoid talking about not being kinky, then how will you tell the person that she is in a abusive kinky relationship and the partner is a pure sadist that will probably cripple her in the end?

  • Meh

    I think I am seeing some commenters, imo, take things into a completely different context than what Minx is presenting here.

    To me this is the context and scenario she is presenting:

    You are meeting a random person, for the very first time, trying to become a part of a community or find some support because they identify with you and the community you are apart of. After finally finding somewhere they might belong they label themselves in the same way you and your community label yourselves. However, you discover they are “cheating” or possibly going down a road that might make others miserable.

    Here is what I think Minx is discouraging:
    After discovering they are a cheater you tell them off for it, shaming them for their actions and even attempting to have anything to do with your lifestyle or label, and ultimately you shun them and isolate them. They got no support, thus won’t seek further advice, and probably will continue doing what they are doing, go down the wrong road, and be miserable for the rest of their lives.

    What I think Minx is suggesting:
    Tell them you respect their wanting to claim that label and the sort of lifestyle that comes with it, but you think they could make some improvements or changes in their lifestyle that might save them a lot of trouble in the long run. Thus they most likely listen to your advice, and will probably continue to take your advice, because you accepted them and offered them support, and, in the long run, this will probably help them make the best most-informed decision.

    This is the scenario I am seeing a lot of people present:
    Someone is approaching you, wanting to participate in an intimate encounter with you (like a date, sexual encounter, or etc). They are presenting you with terms that seem highly suspicious, that may harm you or the people you care about and thus are not an ideal polyamorous partner. What would you do when confronted with this situation?

    So, someone looking for a place to belong or looking to a community for guidance is completely different than someone approaching you to partake in a specific type of relationship that might hurt you physically or emotionally To me, these two scenarios aren’t even in the same ball park as you’re trying to relate a conversation on being respectful and understanding to a conversation about avoiding a harmful or abusive relationship.

    • Olaf

      Interesting analysis.
      More scenario’s.

      How does one fit in your analysis that is on purpose going to a polyamore community because he knows that there are easy pray over there?

      How does that fit in your analysis if the very person that sets up a poly community on purpose to get a consistent stream of new poly virgins? (I actually have known one woman that did set up a poly dating site to get easy pray).

      Don’t get me wrong, I do understand and support what minx says.
      But becoming too political correct is also not a solution. There must be some balance.
      Too strong to defend, then you hurt potential newbies
      Too political correct and you let he wolf come in your community and hurt other inexperienced sheep.
      Too strong a definition, and you lose the numbers of polies
      Too lose a definition and you attract the weird that would marry a goat.

      • Meh

        Now you are delving into this situation from the aspect of “How do you avoid all the malicious and hurtful people in the world who may want to take advantage of a group of people?” That is such a broad question that people have been asking for such a long time that if it were as simple as defining one word or being politically correct, someone would have done it by now and we’d be such a peaceful and happy planet–but this is obviously not the case. Definitions, boundaries, and limitations will not deter someone with ill-intent, they will simply act within those parameters in order to get what they want. These people are present in all aspects of life and prey on all types of “virgins” or “newbies”.

        These scenarios are not direct results of trying to assign a definition to polyamory or being too politically correct, they are a direct result of terrible people who pretend to be something they are not.

        Again, what Minx is suggesting is a method for starting a dialogue with someone who has their own, conflicting idea, of what polyamory is for them. They may think it works perfectly for them even if their partner has no idea about what they’re doing. Instead of shaming them and saying “no, you’re wrong”, which may result in their not listening to you from that moment forward and going on in their life to become a terribly person; it is much more productive to share your experiences on why something doesn’t work. If you have a nightmare of a story to share about a complete lack of communication, that person is probably going to heed your warnings and change their approach to polyamory, for the better, especially if you took the time to listen and understand them.

        If someone adamantly proclaims they are seeing others without their partner’s knowledge or they adamantly proclaim that they would like to marry a goat, it is highly unlikely others will date said person who is proclaiming this for anyone to be aware of. This sends up red flags for just about anyone with dating experience.

        She isn’t suggesting that you should be politically correct, or that you shouldn’t define polyamory in your own terms–she’s suggesting how to start a dialogue with someone you may not agree with about polyamory and how to broaden their knowledge, or even your own knowledge, and help them change for the better rather than shut them down and isolate them forever and probably leave them to become prey to the true “wolves” of the world.

        If dialogue, shared experiences, and guidance, rather than definitive definitions, are the way to make the poly community stronger and more united, then I am all for it.

        • Olaf

          I do understand and support what Minx is saying.

          But you need a minimal set of definitions to define polyamory so everybody in the world understands what that word means. The word polyamorous, and monogamous are very specific niches of the general bread definition of none-monogamy.

          If you are clearly not interested in telling all your partners about each other then you should use the general definition “none-monogamy”. Or maybe “mostly polyamorous”.

          However if you use the word “polyamory”, then it should at least contain two things.
          1. Love is the primary driving factor.
          2. Each of your partners know about each other with full consent.

          I do agree that if you started in a cheating position and then discovers that polyamory exists. If you want to call yourself polyamorey, then at least you must have the “intention” to be honest to everyone you are in a relationship. You must have an intention to talk about the other partners so they can give consent.

          My thing is, that the poly community cannot grow and become stronger when you invite too many different variations of the word. The word loses its meaning, and new people can’t find good advice because when they google the word “polyamory” then they always end up on these weird sites where poly people married 3 goats. That freaks anyone out. Especially the 80 year old grandmother that is curious to know what on Earth the word “polyamory” means that her daughter just said.

  • Olaf

    I am wondering about this sentence in Minx her text:
    “Yes, even when we think they’re doing it 100% wrong!”

    What would be classified as doing it 100% wrong?
    But still be classified as polyamory.

    What would be classified as doing it 100% wrong?
    But have left any concept of polyamory.

    e.g. I am a cult leader and have 100 sexual partners. Are we still in polyamory?
    e.g. I live in a hippy community and have sex with anyone. Are we still in polyamory?
    e.g. I am a man, I have 3 partners and they are not allowed to meet other men because I am dealy jealous? Are we still in polyamory?
    e.g. I am a man and I want to have a relationship with you and don’t care about the feelings of your other partners. Are we still in polyamory?

    The last example, I have a real live story.
    The guy as banging the girlfriend even though he knew that the boyfriend could hear it and did hurt him. He claimed to be polyamorous. He did allow his own wife to have other partners though.

  • […] point, discussing this topic further – Cunning Minx, the awesomest poly podcaster out there (check her out) recently did an entire post/podcast about poly-infighting. You see, there are a lot of poly people […]

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