poly: what & how many

Ravenscroft

Banned
Somewhere in my books is a published study of the relational patterns of homosexual males, back in like 1978. Though rather Dark Ages, it was well done & thorough. It began by doing something overlooked in many studies: clearly defining their key term. Working from memory (accurate, if not precise), they described a "homosexual" for their purposes as
a male adult who, in the past three years, has primarily had sexual contact with other male adults
(FWIW, using this criterion, they found that 8.4% of the men they surveyed from the general population qualified as "homosexual.")

I was looking something up on Wikipedia in the Polyamory article, & just now realized that a hundred words in it claims
As of July 2009, it was estimated that more than 500,000 polyamorous relationships existed in the United States.
This is based on a Newsweek article, which claims
Researchers are just beginning to study the phenomenon, but the few who do estimate that openly polyamorous families in the United States number more than half a million, with thriving contingents in nearly every major city.
Problem is, that number isn't blamed on ANY of "the few who do."

FIRST QUESTION -- doesn't 500,000 seem kinda overinflated?
________________

The problem might be with getting everyone to use ONE definition of "polyamory."

Apparently fearful of offending anyone, the WP article reaches for weaselly vagueness in the first few words:
Polyamory is typically the practice of, or the desire for, intimate relationships ...
And it only gets more vague:
For example, although polyamory is typically defined as a relationship practice or approach to relationships, some believe that it should also be considered an orientation or identity.
That damnable word appears exactly three times in a rather lengthy article, ALL in the opening sentences. Here's the third:
People who identify as polyamorous typically reject the view that sexual and relational exclusivity are necessary...
Hmm... I only now realize that, where another article might start off with History, this one decides to run with Terminology. :confused: And it veers quickly away from simple etymology & conjugation.
No single definition of "polyamory" has universal acceptance. ... Most definitions of polyamory center on the concepts provided by Ravenheart's definition. Areas of difference arise regarding the degree of commitment, such as in the practice of casual sexual activities, and whether it represents a viewpoint or a relational status quo (whether a person without current partners can be considered "polyamorous").
And none of those claims cites a source.

SECOND QUESTION -- given that nobody seems to know, or even be ALLOWED to know for fear of hurting someone's feelings, how the hell is it possible to claim ANY number of adherents?

THIRD QUESTION -- any guesses as to how "500,000 relationships" is the same as "half a million families"? The WP article & its source seem to be saying "it ain't polyamory unless its under one roof!"

FOURTH QUESTION -- define "polyamorous relationship" in 15 words or less. Then have a swing at "polyamorous family."
 
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Shaya

New member
Fourth question: Define polyamorous relationship in 15 words or less.

Let me instead try for defining polyamory.

Consensual non-monogamy limited in romantic scope only by the people involved in the romance.

I feel there are problems with my attempt at a definition, amongst which would include its lack of addressing boundaries or requests from romantic others and anticipate much teeth-gnashing in the replies. I also wonder if this phrasing i've chosen will resonate with some swingers. I'm happy to hear another definition in 15 words or less and to adjust my world view accordingly.
 
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CTF

Member
Actually , when you break it down, 500,000 relationships/families doesn't seem all that high when you think about it. Assuming they're counting relationships as a unit, and not counting each individual, then you're looking at 1.5 million people. Hell, lets go big and assume that some relationships have kids, or some have more than 3 partners... even if each relationship had, say, 5 people involved... at 2.5 million, that's still less than 3/4 of 1% of the population. To me, that seems low.

Granted, my assumptions aren't scientific. I don't pretend to know the actual numbers. I honestly don't think anyone can. It's kind of like when they try to count the number of illegal immigrants, I don't think it'll ever be possible to know the true number. Especially if there isn't any true consensus of the definition of poly itself.

Now, I don't know if I can define it in 15 words or less, but I'll try to define it as best I can. And yeah, I know I'm a mono, so take it with a grain of salt if you wish.... Polyamory- the practice or inclination of more than one simultaneous romantic relationship.

There's my 2 cents... do with it what you will
 

Ravenscroft

Banned
Yah, I'm totally on base with both of ya. :) Like, does "family" include extant offspring? And the number of "relationships" bloats up quickly: for instance, a closed triad is FOUR relationships, & a quad has a potential 11 :eek: (six dyads, four triads, one quad), yet in each instance ONE "family." There's no way the numbers can be equal.

Taking a wild leap here, I'd say that first maybe the number of individuals should be estimated.

But, see, if it's acceptable that anyone who thinks they might, at some time, eventually consider having more than one simultaneous sexual partner thereby qualifies as polyamorous... then any guessed number has to be inflated.

Take that "half million" number & drop out all the teenage virgins & secret wannabees, & it collapses quickly.
 

Magdlyn

Moderator
Staff member
Aren't there gay and lesbian teenage virgins? AKA, queer questioning.

Why the focus on numbers anyway?

It's like saying you're not female until you've menstruated or had sex or had a baby. Where is the marker? And don't say genitalia. What if your sex organs don't match the gender in your head and other biology? What if a 4 year old "boy" hates wearing boy clothes and only wants to play "girl games?"

Just how far do you want to break it down, and why? You could be poly and introverted and shy, or repressed, and only love from afar, but love more than one, more or less living in a fantasy world.

Just as I reject a the 1970s definition of homosexual. You don't have to be adult. You don't have to have this arbitrary 3 years of contact with other males only.

You could be a closeted homosexual who married a woman, and is able to have had some sex with her... but is terribly unfulfilled by it.
 

Shaya

New member
@CTF: if you're still in your edit window, you may want to throw in something about consensual in your definition. :)
 

Spork

New member
I think that the only point in trying to cite any figures, is to tell people that "Hey. Lots of folks do this, whether you know about it or not." This serves a couple of purposes.

It tells the ones who feel they would like to be poly, but are afraid of being the lone polywolf in their region or social grouping and persecuted for being utterly different from everyone around them, that yes in fact this is A Thing. People do it. You could, too. You aren't alone in this. (Which is pretty much the effect when anyone who has any "secret" or "deviant" interest simply does a Google search nowadays I think)...

Secondly putting that information in front of the "muggles" shows them that plenty of folks are doing this thing and society isn't collapsing and God isn't striking them down and yeah, you might even know some perfectly normal folks who do this and simply keep it on the down-low.

Which means that the number, which could only be ridiculously speculative, doesn't even matter. It's just a matter of "Hey! Look at this big number! It is very big and very numerical, and gives a feeling of authenticity to my supposed study on this subject!" I am however, usually fairly skeptical about statistics cited for "studies"...I mean, who are they asking, exactly? Where would these numbers come from? Are we extrapolating a study on how many Americans enjoy beer, from a poll of college frat boys, or what?

:confused:
 

Taramafor

New member
"What" can get varied. I'm a masochist. I don't enjoy physical pain. Why? Because I'm a MENTAL masochist. Also not sexual only, which can be a part of it but never the only thing about it (I get miffed when I see people saying it's mainly about sex as if it's a fact for all).

I'm poly. But I don't cap myself with numbers as others might. Why? Because it's a "Someone else might show up down the line who I'll need to keep in mind" thing. And other reasons. Other poly people might go "It's just these two alone".

Even mono can get bloody varied. Some have flings yet it's ok because "not emotional". sexual encounters with doms/subs which has been talked about and agreed upon.

But you know what else is always varied? EVERY bloody relationship to have ever existed. Instead of making a billion labels to try and make sense of it all why can't we just go "Oh, it's THEIR relationship and up for them how to go about it"? Do all the research you like but what it boils down to is that they know each other in a way that no outsider ever will. And what an outsider can see as wrong or right can and will be known otherwise with insider company.

*Drops mic and walks out the door*
 
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Rockit49

New member
Spork.. Humm

The people that would try to use the info negatively in an oppressive controling way too?
Goes both ways
There's all types of people
 
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Taramafor

New member
The people that would try to use the info negatively in an oppressive controling way too?

It's not that people might try to use information is negative ways. It's that people can think "They know better" for others. or otherwise see what they want to see.
 

Rockit49

New member
Lol..

It's not that people might try to use information is negative ways. It's that people can think "They know better" for others. or otherwise see what they want to see.

It would be viewed as negative by me... To oppress or otherwise control negatively
 

CTF

Member
@CTF: if you're still in your edit window, you may want to throw in something about consensual in your definition. :)

You're right, I forgot to add that. I didn't intentionally leave it out, but after thinking about it, I really didn't think it was necessary. It should go without saying that EVERY relationship is based on consent. Even monogamy is not monogamy unless both partners consent... yet, there never seems to be the need to define monogamy with that qualifier.

At the same time, when it comes to the inclinations of the people, consent has literally nothing to do with it. One doesn't need the consent of anyone else to be able to self identify as mono, poly, or anything else for that matter.
 

Taramafor

New member
Even monogamy is not monogamy unless both partners consent... yet, there never seems to be the need to define monogamy with that qualifier.

And this is how people often get hurt when it comes to "Not yet aware poly partners" I think. Also mono is "Happy with one", not "I control who you see". A relationship can still be mono as well as poly for this reason.

Someone could always show up later to change things, regardless of what you agreed too or not. You can't control who you have feelings for. nor will you know what to do when it happens. And what's the point of going "I agree not to see someone else" if a partner ends up unhappy and going insane from it? Which of course won't even have been considered beforehand.

Long story short, dealing in absolutes (eg: We're together, let's assume we don't see others without asking) when things always change down the line is unwise. thing is many people aren't yet aware of changes down the line. And won't be until it happens. We all learn the hard way I guess.
 

CTF

Member
And this is how people often get hurt when it comes to "Not yet aware poly partners" I think. Also mono is "Happy with one", not "I control who you see". A relationship can still be mono as well as poly for this reason.

Someone could always show up later to change things, regardless of what you agreed too or not. You can't control who you have feelings for. nor will you know what to do when it happens. And what's the point of going "I agree not to see someone else" if a partner ends up unhappy and going insane from it? Which of course won't even have been considered beforehand.

Long story short, dealing in absolutes (eg: We're together, let's assume we don't see others without asking) when things always change down the line is unwise. thing is many people aren't yet aware of changes down the line. And won't be until it happens. We all learn the hard way I guess.

Well, first of all, I'm not all that convinced that people can't control who they have feelings for. You might be right to an extent, but I don't think it's quite so obvious. That being said, we CAN control the situations we put ourselves in when it comes to having people we might have feelings for.

And mono is more than "happy with one". That's monogamous people. A monogamous relationship is defined as two people agreeing to be each other's only partners. They make a choice, and they make a commitment. Sure, sometimes one, or both changes, but that doesn't mean they weren't previously monogamous for the time being.

But no matter, my previous point about consent being part of the definition had nothing to do with the transition from mono to poly, simply the definition of each style independent of one another. We're defining the styles themselves, we're not defining the transition.
 

Taramafor

New member
Well, first of all, I'm not all that convinced that people can't control who they have feelings for. You might be right to an extent, but I don't think it's quite so obvious. That being said, we CAN control the situations we put ourselves in when it comes to having people we might have feelings for.

Take the first half of what you said and make it the reply to the second half of what you said. We can TRY to control the situations we put ourselves in but even that isn't so simple. Sometimes the situation gets placed on you. In a none forced manner too. With it sucking for everyone involved. Best you can do there is try to control yourself. Not the situation. Yourself. Because trying to control "the whole situation" can be overwhelming.


And mono is more than "happy with one". That's monogamous people. A monogamous relationship is defined as two people agreeing to be each other's only partners. They make a choice, and they make a commitment. Sure, sometimes one, or both changes, but that doesn't mean they weren't previously monogamous for the time being.

I don't believe in "being born that way". I believe in "I change if I want to change." If a mono person and a poly person end up being together then a mono person is happy with one without seeing other people. If two mono people are together then they're happy with each other, having "just one" both ways. Sometimes people can think they're only happy with one only for that to change at a later date. Other times the reverse can also happen. That's what relationships are all about. Making yourself and your partner(s) happy. As well as dealing with sad and bad but that's another matter (This can be why people change sometimes). A mono person with a poly partner is no less mono then a mono person with a mono partner. I point that out because of the "Agreeing to be with just one both ways to be mono" speech you brought up earlier. If someone doesn't want to be with you then they're not happy with you. Or at least aren't getting enough happiness out of it. Or maybe it's a case of having too much sad and bad with the happiness as well, which could be an issue with some mono people.Or even poly people that can't handle mono.

But no matter, my previous point about consent being part of the definition had nothing to do with the transition from mono to poly, simply the definition of each style independent of one another. We're defining the styles themselves, we're not defining the transition.

Without keeping the transition in mind it can risk neglecting certain styles that might not even have been found yet. And I was speaking of a mono person with a poly person. Not either of them changing from one to the other. I was pointing out that "style" of it. A mono person being happy and content with a poly partner who is also happy and content with them. All very much talked out and agreed upon.
 
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CTF

Member
Take the first half of what you said and make it the reply to the second half of what you said. We can TRY to control the situations we put ourselves in but even that isn't so simple. Sometimes the situation gets placed on you. In a none forced manner too. With it sucking for everyone involved. Best you can do there is try to control yourself. Not the situation. Yourself. Because trying to control "the whole situation" can be overwhelming.




I don't believe in "being born that way". I believe in "I change if I want to change." If a mono person and a poly person end up being together then a mono person is happy with one without seeing other people. If two mono people are together then they're happy with each other, having "just one" both ways. Sometimes people can think they're only happy with one only for that to change at a later date. Other times the reverse can also happen. That's what relationships are all about. Making yourself and your partner(s) happy. As well as dealing with sad and bad but that's another matter (This can be why people change sometimes). A mono person with a poly partner is no less mono then a mono person with a mono partner. I point that out because of the "Agreeing to be with just one both ways to be mono" speech you brought up earlier. If someone doesn't want to be with you then they're not happy with you. Or at least aren't getting enough happiness out of it. Or maybe it's a case of having too much sad and bad with the happiness as well, which could be an issue with some mono people.Or even poly people that can't handle mono.



Without keeping the transition in mind it can risk neglecting certain styles that might not even have been found yet. And I was speaking of a mono person with a poly person. Not either of them changing from one to the other. I was pointing out that "style" of it. A mono person being happy and content with a poly partner who is also happy and content with them. All very much talked out and agreed upon.

Why would I make one half reply to the other? They're not mutually exclusive. Furthermore, I never claimed, for a fact, that one can, or can't control their feelings. I'm simply not convinced that no one ever can. Nor did I claim that controlling being in those situations that lead to feelings is easy. It can be hard, but aside from maybe some rare exceptions (that you might want to highlight, because I can't think of any), it is possible to control the situations, even if it means a difficult task of removing yourself from it completely.

And no, I don't believe in "born that way" either. True, some people change, and yes, a mono person with a poly partner is still mono, but that's only half of the definition. There's mono & poly people, and mono & poly relationships. If a mono person is with a poly partner, who also has other partners, he is not in a monogamous relationship. Nor did I say that two mono folks breaking up means that it had anything to do with mono or poly in every case.

So what if it's neglecting styles that haven't been found? Since when do we have to be so inclusive towards something that doesn't even exist yet, and might not ever exist? As for the mono with the poly person, Like I said above, the definition applies to people, and also relationships. And one can certainly identify as one, but be in the other as far as a relationship is concerned. Hell, two poly people that are only with each other, would be in a monogamous relationship for that matter.
 

Taramafor

New member
It's still a "mono" relationship in some ways because it's "half mono". It's also half poly in this case. I'm not even sure if this is called anything. Moly? Pono?

Anyway, there's still mono in that relationship. Going along the same line there's actually a lot of mono in poly. Just not in the restrictive sense.

As for "uncontrolled situations" that's a long story. Ex of an ex was sent my way when I was already with someone. Care about them all so walking away wasn't an option. Not as simple as "relationship" either. When blackmail happens you can't just walk away. I don't blame them for it. There's been enough of that... All things considered things ended on the best terms possible. No more regrets and keeping in touch. Can only control ourselves in the end. And hope for the best from others.

Getting back on topic with Styles. Triads (three people), "alpha" with others having lesser ranks. I'd never stand for that myself due to history of "playing favourites". Uh... What else? Oh, right, harem. This one can get a lot of flak because people tend to think "It's not about being close to people". It's something that can work though. It's where there's one "owner" and about 3+ sub (used loosely and not) partners. As for wherever those "on the leash" (I use the term loosely, though may not apply loosely for some) are "allowed" to be with others as well or not that's for those involved to decide. I can be in one but not if I'm "restricted." The focus on this one is more on "All around each other at once for a lot of the time." It can work but you got to remember that just because most of the time is spent around being together all at once it's still a case of everyone being a part of the whole. eg: Each person is a part of a whole group but it's still got EACH person that has thoughts and feelings and stuff.
 
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JaneQSmythe

Active member
It's still a "mono" relationship in some ways because it's "half mono". It's also half poly in this case. I'm not even sure if this is called anything. Moly? Pono?

It's called "Monopoly" and everyone gets a hotel but doesn't get to pass Go and collect $200. (Sorry, couldn't resist :D)
 

Shaya

New member
@ctf : I think consent has to be part of the definition, otherwise you might be defining non monogamy, which for some people, may include infidelity, swinging, friends with benefits, one night stands, casual sex, hooker sex and all the rest of it.
 

Spork

New member
It's called "Monopoly" and everyone gets a hotel but doesn't get to pass Go and collect $200. (Sorry, couldn't resist :D)

Ha!!

But certainly we all know there are posters here who are the mono partners in mono-poly 'ships.

To touch on other stuff... I try to resist saying what people can and cannot do, or whether people are born any particular way or choose any particular thing, etc. simply because I try to remember I only have a right to speak for myself.

So I think it was a more mature and responsible approach to relating, that I endeavor to know myself, how I tend to work, and therefore what is reasonable or not reasonable for my partner(s) to expect of me. I try to make agreements that are very specific, and I try to be clear that assumptions won't fly. As my Zen and I went to a monogamish dyad thing that is closed in particular to me having biologically male sex partners, that was reasonable. Because it is very easy for me to be responsible for my sex choices. I do not get drunk and "accidentally" have sex with someone that I will regret. (Because I don't even drink.) For instance. I can very simply choose to not have sex with other guys and it's no big deal.

If he told me that I was allowed to have sex with other men but must only have feelings for him...play the sound of brakes screeching in your mind...Houston we have a PROBLEM. I will feel things for others. Very likely. I do not control this well. I am not interested in what "people can" control, but I can say that I specifically know that I love easily, and that isn't likely to change. I develop little crushes, I am affectionate to friends, I enjoy being loving to other human beings. Just part of my extrovert self.

So... I only have partnered sex with one person and I specifically do not have it with other male people, and it isn't even very likely that I'll have it with other female people, though there is the remote possibility, but I have a number of friends and we are close and affectionate, even the point of touching and kissing and snuggling sometimes...things that mono partners of my past would have gone nuts over...and both Zen and I may occasionally do nonsexual BDSM play casually with others at parties...

Am I still polyamorous?

I don't even know anymore. I jokingly call it polyflexible monogamish.
 
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