Sorry, I Know This Is A Dumb Question

Errant Venture Errant Venture
Hey everyone!

So I've been perusing this sub-forum for a while now, but I have to concede defeat. I have no idea what, exactly, a polyamorous relationship is. Sorry! I'd like to say I'm having a blonde moment, but if that were true, it's been going on all my life! I've been perusing other sites (sex sites, dictionary sites) but none really go into all that much detail. So I thought I'd come on here and just ask: what is it? And I remember seeing the threads on polyamory vs swinging and open relationships. Could you go into detail about that?

Please and thank you.
08/30/2011
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Ansley Ansley
It's not dumb, but it is complicated. Each relationship in these subsets are going to vary depending on the people involved and their own personal boundaries so it's really difficult to lay out all of the possibilities in one succint explanation.


This is the way *I* define those relationships:

Polyamory: Loving more than one person and having a committed sexual relationship with them. As in, you can be in a relationship with two or more people at the same time and loving each person equally, but differently. The level of committment is the same for each relationship---you'd go to the end of the Earth for their happiness.

Polygamy: Is the practice of one man taking on multiple wives and developing their own intricate family where each wife shares a responsibility for the husband and any offspring in the relationship, regardless of who the biological mother is.

Swinging: Married couples/committed long term couples occasionally bring home or seek out another couple to either hard swap or soft swap. Soft swapping is where the women have sex with each other (or the men) and the other partners watch and encourage the activity while getting themselves off. Hard swapping is where you essentially swap partners for the night. There are no strings attached and no feelings of love, just lust.

Open relationships: One or both people in the relationship seek other partners to date or fool around with but their respective long-term partner is not involved in the relationship or the activity. And this is where things get super complicated because that really varies on the people involved. For instance, one couple may want to meet the prospective partner and get to know them where in another relationship it doesn't matter so long as there is safe sex and honest communication between the people in the committed relationship. Say that Bob and Sally are married and Sally wants to date outside of the relationship. Bob would then say, okay use condoms until [x] number of STI tests come back clean. And there are most likely rules (boundaries) about declaring any romantic or loving feelings that may be developing toward the third person.

Then you have those cases where Bob and Sally are married and they want a girlfriend or a boyfriend and it becomes more of a triad where everyone is involved in the daily activities of the household, share income, share resources and any children that arise from the union.

That's just the very tip of the iceberg, but I hope it helps you understand it a little bit better. Keep asking questions, there are tons of us here that can help you understand. This is just the cliff notes version.
08/30/2011
Illusional Illusional
Not dumb at all. This is a safe warm place where we can ask whatever we are concerned or interested about!
08/30/2011
Airen Wolf Airen Wolf
Not a dumb question at all and very honestly and politely asked.

I agree with most of what Stormy has to say on the matter with the excetion that the word polygamy actually means "Many Marriages" and doesn't actually refer to a gender. PolyAndry is many husbands wherein a woman has more than one husband but they have only her and Polygyny is many wives wherein the opposite is true.

In my own case we began our open marriage journey as a triad that is still in effect 5 years later. We are a strange mix and a seeming contradiction in many wasy but we say, "It works for us and is a unique journey." I have been with my legal husband since we were 16 years old so we grew up together, though to be honest it's only in the past five years that we've really begun to grown up.
We are a family centric group centered around our three children that the three adults parent equally or as a unit. We are mostly fidelitous both emotionally and sexually but the option is open for others if we find the desire arises. We have only two hard and fast rules:
You must be honest with everyone involved as to what your intentions and feelins/desires are concerning the relationship or a proposed new one.
You must take every precaution to remain healthy and prevent unwanted pregnancy (should we desire another child that is an option but we don't want it to be unplanned/undesired).

Sigel likes the freedom to play as he wants, Arch likes that he is part of a stable unit and has the freedm to decide IF he wants to play and I simply love everything about the arrangement...except being apart but we're working on that.
08/30/2011
Ansley Ansley
Quote:
Originally posted by Airen Wolf
Not a dumb question at all and very honestly and politely asked.

I agree with most of what Stormy has to say on the matter with the excetion that the word polygamy actually means "Many Marriages" and doesn't actually refer to a ... More
I was hoping you'd step in and answer Airen. And thank you for correcting me on the polygamy aspect. I wasn't sure what the specific terms were and in the mainstream world it is mostly thought to be a Mormon practice where the man chooses multiple wives and not the other way around so that's what I went with.
08/30/2011
Airen Wolf Airen Wolf
Quote:
Originally posted by Ansley
I was hoping you'd step in and answer Airen. And thank you for correcting me on the polygamy aspect. I wasn't sure what the specific terms were and in the mainstream world it is mostly thought to be a Mormon practice where the man chooses ... More
Well they do seem to get the most air time don't they? It's a pretty common practice and has been throughout time...did you now that in the Middle Ages it was an assumed duty for a squire to "step in" if the master knight couldn't get his wife pregnant? This is why most if not all squires and Jr. Knights were of the Noble class...can't have no class babies being made lordlings now can we?
It was the lady of the house's (Chatelaine) to welcome weary travelers (mostly menfolk) and bathe them...and see to their 'comfort'....which means exactly what it sounds like. Sex wasn't so romanticized it was a symptom of life. LOVE, however, kept the poets employed!
Love and sex have evolved according to the needs of the people so have lables and descriptions of duties. Generally, though, the best idea is to carve out and define for yourself what makes you happy and then model that for the world!!
08/30/2011
Errant Venture Errant Venture
Oh my. Thank you, all of you! I think you were right, Stormy, in saying that it's quite complicated. However, great deal of my confusion has been eased (though not all. I reserve the right to come back and poke you with big sticks ). I do have two questions:

About polyamory and polygamy: Is polygamy an evolution (for lack of a better word) of polyamory, in that it has the inclusion of the family unit, where it wasn't before? But apart from that, the 'adult' relationships are basically the same?

And another: Is it possible to mix and match different subsets? For example, have a polyamorous relationship, yet also have (again, for lack of a better term) flings?

And I knew some of those facts, Airen, but I confess I never thought of it in this setting.

Thanks again!
08/31/2011
Ansley Ansley
Quote:
Originally posted by Errant Venture
Oh my. Thank you, all of you! I think you were right, Stormy, in saying that it's quite complicated. However, great deal of my confusion has been eased (though not all. I reserve the right to come back and poke you with big sticks ). I do have ... More
To be quite honest, I can't fully answer your first question about the inclusion of the family unit because polygamy is something as old as the dawn of time, but I don't think it was as sophisticated or complicated in the beginning as it is now and I've only studied the Mormon side of things and the aspects of polyamory in the Noble classes. The belief there (Mormon) is that the more children and wives a man has, the closer he is to God. (Google anything about Warren Jeffs and you'll see what I mean. Just whatever you do, DO NOT listen to the tapes from his trial.) With the English, French and Spanish kingdoms the monarch often had several mistresses throughout his life though usually no more than one at a time unless he was especially ambitious. His wife knew, in some if not most cases the queen had to welcome the mistress to court and see to his bastard children. The mistress rarely lived at the palace, however. If the queen could not produce a viable heir, the mistress's eldest male child would become the next in line and the king would give her a title to make it legitimate. The mistress was usually excluded from any funeral proceedings as it was the first time in the queen's marriage when the king was solely her's. It's quite fascinating stuff. I use polyamory to describe these relationships because all in the relationship are aware of what's going on and both women are loved in a manner unique unto them.

In the Mormon community, a man takes as many wives as he can provide for and has as many children as he can provide for. The family becomes it's own little community. In the beginning, this meant that the eldest children went to work as soon as they were able and the sister wives all shared the household duties of cooking, cleaning and laundry. Today, it's more modernized. (Watch TLC's Sister Wives or HBO's Big Love.) The wives don't engage each other sexually, but they share the bed with the husband at least one night a week depending on how many wives there are in total. If there were two wives, he would just switch rooms every other day. They deal with issues together and the children consider all of the wives to be their mother(s).

And yes. It's completely up to the boundaries the two people are comfortable with. For instance, off the top of my head, there is a radio personality who picks out girls for her boyfriend to have sex with while she watches and she can sleep with any girl she chooses, but she won't (and was asked not to) sleep with another man. There are some who have girlfriends and two out of the three will pair off and go get a third for a night. It really is completely up to them how they carve out what's acceptable and what isn't. When I was first introduced to the concepts my first thought was then why not just say fuck it and sleep with everybody, but as I began to see real working relationships I realized it was a lot more complicated because you still have moments of jealousy and insecurity, even in the best of scenarios.
08/31/2011
Ansley Ansley
Quote:
Originally posted by Airen Wolf
Well they do seem to get the most air time don't they? It's a pretty common practice and has been throughout time...did you now that in the Middle Ages it was an assumed duty for a squire to "step in" if the master knight ... More
They sure do, but they make great reference material. When else in the history of man have we had such open discussions of what happens in those specific families. They certainly don't represent everyone, though.

I had heard of that, but I wasn't ever sure if it was true. But, it makes perfect sense. And no knight can be shamed by not being able to reproduce.

And I completely agree. Pardon me while I hop on the soap box---it's ridiculous how people think they have the right to dictate anything about a person's personal life if it's not hurting anyone. It's the one thing I get really worked up about.
08/31/2011
El-Jaro El-Jaro
Quote:
Originally posted by Illusional
Not dumb at all. This is a safe warm place where we can ask whatever we are concerned or interested about!
We have cookies too...somewhere. Maybe some hot chocolate too...with or without buttershots, i'm not sure.
08/31/2011
Errant Venture Errant Venture
Quote:
Originally posted by Ansley
To be quite honest, I can't fully answer your first question about the inclusion of the family unit because polygamy is something as old as the dawn of time, but I don't think it was as sophisticated or complicated in the beginning as it is ... More
And the confusion returns . I kid. It's certainly very fascinating to see the evolution of polyamory and polygamy over the centuries; thank you!
09/01/2011
Ansley Ansley
Quote:
Originally posted by Errant Venture
And the confusion returns . I kid. It's certainly very fascinating to see the evolution of polyamory and polygamy over the centuries; thank you!
My pleasure, I'm glad your confusion is lessened. I'm trying to think of a list of books for you to read that could help you understand it all a little bit better. The Ethical Slut (carried on Eden) is a pretty good and informative read but it mostly focuses on modern open relationships. Maybe if you were to google "polyamory/polygamy throughout history" you could find some interesting links. Just try to read between the lines because there are a ton of resources that are completely biased against monogamy.
09/01/2011
Airen Wolf Airen Wolf
Quote:
Originally posted by Ansley
My pleasure, I'm glad your confusion is lessened. I'm trying to think of a list of books for you to read that could help you understand it all a little bit better. The Ethical Slut (carried on Eden) is a pretty good and informative read but ... More
You really do have to read between the lines on some of the "history of polyamory/polygamy" sites because in my experience as well as in others, there is no difference in the maturity level or evolution of people who prefer monogamy or poly type relationships...now those who prefer serial monogamy (I am faithful to you until something better comes along) show some surprising immaturity and lack of ability to commit. Still, we have been a communal loving species since our beginnings but there is evidence that we have also been just as willing to live in pair bonding type settings. Thing is, nature and her influence aside, we are humans which means we are a walking contradiction with the only rule being that for every rule there will be a segment of the population that seems to thrive on the other side of it. The exception is always the rule with humans!
We aren't "moving toward poly type relationships" because they have always existed we are, hopefully, just becoming more tolerant and, possibly, more aware.
While sometimes the relationship between wife and mistress was acrimonious sometimes the wife realized that she is the interloper between a pair of real lovers. Marriages were political rather than feeling based, after all. There are woderful examples of royal mistresses being in the royal retinue and actual accounts of the wife and mistress actually being very close. It's rare to be sure but it did happen.
09/06/2011
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