Misunderstood Term?

thefarstrider

New member
Hello sweet people,

I had a confusing experience this weekend and would love some support and guidance. I identify as poly with no current partners, and have been looking for similar. I met someone a month ago who called themselves “unpartnered poly”, which I interpreted as being in my same situation; open to many lives, but not currently attached to anyone romantically or sexually.

Well, yesterday this person explained that they have five lovers whom they see regularly, one that they even travel from California to Colorado on a monthly basis to see for a weekend at a time.

I felt very confused, and a little mislead. This doesn’t sound like unpartnered poly to me. Is not having a PRIMARY partner the same as being unpartnered in how we use language?
 

kdt26417

Official Greeter
Staff member
Hello thefarstrider,

It sounds like that person was rather (perhaps conveniently) sloppy in their use of the word "partner." To them, when they say partner, they actually mean "nesting partner" or "primary partner." A nesting partner is a partner one lives with. This person presumably doesn't live with anyone, so they thought that counted as "unpartnered." As I said I don't know if their misuse of the term was convenient or just sloppy, but I for one believe that there is such a thing as a partner one does not live with, and such thing as a secondary partner. You were not wrong to think so. Let's give this person the benefit of the doubt, and call it a misunderstanding. At least they did later on clarify to you what they meant. That's better than nothing.

Sincerely,
Kevin T.
 

Ariakas

Bosun
I would extrapolate that they like interpret "partner" in a similar way to what I do. So it could be a difference in communication. A partner to me, is someone that you share responsibilities, life etc with. Whatever that may be,

If I am dating, or FWB's, I would never refer to them are partners. My wife is my partner.

Stickler for terms that make sense. Calling someone you see once and a while a partner doesn't logically make sense.

Its why, when communicating terms, its always good to ask what the person means, vs assuming what someone means based on a communities definition.

Also, side note, definitions have caused communities to split in 2. Large poly communities disagreeing about terms and not agreeing it can mean either. In the end, some people like fluid definitions, some like accurate and precise definitions. Ask :)

So I would, consider what you just described as unpartnered poly :)
 

thefarstrider

New member
M
I would extrapolate that they like interpret "partner" in a similar way to what I do. So it could be a difference in communication. A partner to me, is someone that you share responsibilities, life etc with. Whatever that may be,

If I am dating, or FWB's, I would never refer to them are partners. My wife is my partner.

Stickler for terms that make sense. Calling someone you see once and a while a partner doesn't logically make sense.

Its why, when communicating terms, its always good to ask what the person means, vs assuming what someone means based on a communities definition.

Also, side note, definitions have caused communities to split in 2. Large poly communities disagreeing about terms and not agreeing it can mean either. In the end, some people like fluid definitions, some like accurate and precise definitions. Ask :)

So I would, consider what you just described as unpartnered poly :)
Here’s to more communication and less assumptions! This is a great area for my growth. Thank you for sharing.
 

GalaGirl

Well-known member
I think that's just part of dating... or meeting any new people, really.

"Calibrating" what you both mean by certain words or phrases. Like to me "get a lift" is go get a taxi or Uber or whatever. To my mother, it means "Go hold the elevator for me." We were raised in different places so even though we both speak English, sometimes it bumps into... weird.

You could say things like "Ok, so repeat back what I just said in your own words so I know you got it how I meant it " or "Ok, let me repeat back to you in my own words. Then I know I got it how you meant it."

Doing that can help minimize misunderstandings.

Galagirl
 

Ariakas

Bosun
I think that's just part of dating... or meeting any new people, really.

"Calibrating" what you both mean by certain words or phrases. Like to me "get a lift" is go get a taxi or Uber or whatever. To my mother, it means "Go hold the elevator for me." We were raised in different places so even though we both speak English, sometimes it bumps into... weird.

You could say things like "Ok, so repeat back what I just said in your own words so I know you got it how I meant it " or "Ok, let me repeat back to you in my own words. Then I know I got it how you meant it."

Doing that can help minimize misunderstandings.

Galagirl
Great tip
 

Magdlyn

Moderator
Staff member
Also, if that was this person's screen name, maybe they've somewhat outgrown it but don't want to bother changing it. What's in a name?
 

Marcus

Well-known member
I felt very confused, and a little mislead.

I'd let go of this kind of reaction entirely. I suppose it's possible that they were trying to mislead you, but that doesn't really line up with reality since they described their situation to you shortly after you met.

This doesn’t sound like unpartnered poly to me. Is not having a PRIMARY partner the same as being unpartnered in how we use language?

Honestly, I think they are a champ for even trying to give polyamory a prefix that helps describe what they are in to. Not that it matters really, as others have said this is just something that you need to talk about.

Actually getting to know someone, what their situation is, and whether or not they are an appropriate partner for whatever journey you are interested in can take a very long time. Figuring out what people mean by the terms they use is one tiny part of the puzzle, and there are many miles to travel after that minor and rather inconsequential discovery.

I'd be much more interested in discovering how they feel about respecting boundaries and receiving unfavorable news.
 

thefarstrider

New member
Just a brief update folks. We’ve done a lot more talking about it and things are much more clear now. Sure enough, it was a simple misunderstanding, but a great opportunity for a heart check for me.

Our next step was to share our Relationship Anarchy needs, wants, preferences and non-negotiables. From here, we’ve also both identified that we are interested and open to developing a primary partnership.

At some point down the road I’m imagining we’ll need to have a conversation about our differences in requisites for connection; I am a heart-first, sex-follows lover, and she maintains sexual partners that are primarily physical. It will be an adventure to see how the two flow together.

Thank you everyone for your insights and challenges. This has been a very growing edge for me as it’s the first poly relationship I’ve been in, so lots and LOTS to learn and experience for the first time.
 

kdt26417

Official Greeter
Staff member
Sounds like things are really coming together for the two of you. That's good to hear.
 
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