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Sexual Informatics: Non-Monogamy

I've been told, many times, that the word "polyamory" is not really necessary, as it's simply a synonym for "open relationship" or "swinging" (or, depending on the person talking to me, "cheating"). This idea seems to assume that there's really only one kind of non-monogamy, which is kind of silly.

I started thinking lately about the various ways in which a relationship can be non-monogamous, and the intersections between different sorts of non-monogamy, and after tinkering around with the notion for a while I've come up with this diagram.



A relationship can be non-monogamous without being open; cheating relationships, polyfidelitous relationships, and religious polygyny are all examples. I've made polyamory and swinging separate and nonoverlapping here, though of course a person can be polyamorous and also be a swinger (they're two different behaviors engaged in by the same person, just as a person can be a swinger and also be a cheater, and so on).

BDSM throws a monkeywrench into the issue because there are so many ways that people involved in BDSM can be non-monogamous. I've seen people who play at play parties with other folks but don't do so outside play parties and don't form relationships; that sort of arrangement overlaps with swinging. I've seen various flavors of polyamorous and polyfi BDSM relationships. I've seen closed-group non-monogamy that isn't quite polyamory and looks more like closed-group swinging, though God knows there's some overlap between closed-group swinging and polyfi; I've known closed group swingers whose groups stay stable for longer than most marriages do. And there's a sliver of non-monogamous BDSM relationships that don't intersect with anything else; "I'll arrange a gang bang for you and you'll LIKE IT," ferinstance.

And then there's con sex, which overlaps with a whole lot of other stuff. But someone could probably write an entire book about con sex. And now that I think about it, I'd probably read it.


Comments

( 37 comments — Leave a comment )
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margoeve
Mar. 18th, 2010 07:18 pm (UTC)
I totally snarfed at "Con Sex" but...

The 100 mile rule? Soft Swinging? I don't know these terms.
tacit
Mar. 18th, 2010 07:32 pm (UTC)
"Hundred mile rules" or "hundred mile agreements" are relationship agreements, sometimes tacit, that say that when one member of a couple is out of town (on business trips, or on military deployment, or whatever), it's OK to get some nookie on the side, as long as it doesn't come back when the person returns home.

Soft swinging is the practice of going to public venues for sex (swing clubs, play parties, and so on), but only having sex with your partner, not with other people there.
(no subject) - badrahessa - Mar. 18th, 2010 08:34 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - pstscrpt - Mar. 19th, 2010 12:16 am (UTC) - Expand
bookofmirrors
Mar. 18th, 2010 07:22 pm (UTC)
'Nother poster? :)
thenanerbananer
Mar. 18th, 2010 08:49 pm (UTC)
Yes, please. Want copy!!!
(Deleted comment)
tacit
Mar. 18th, 2010 07:33 pm (UTC)
Yep! Also sometimes used by military people when someone is on deployment.
winterlady
Mar. 18th, 2010 07:47 pm (UTC)
LoL once I figured out what "con sex" was... I giggled. ^_^

Nice poster on relationships, tho.
rekre8
Mar. 18th, 2010 07:52 pm (UTC)
I still haven't figured out what CON is
-your overly innocent reader.
tacit
Mar. 18th, 2010 07:56 pm (UTC)
Sex at conventions--such as science fiction conventions, BDSM conventions, or whatever. What happens at Dragon*Con, stays at Dragon*Con, y'know?
(no subject) - rekre8 - Mar. 19th, 2010 12:19 am (UTC) - Expand
badrahessa
Mar. 18th, 2010 08:35 pm (UTC)
interesting diagram, glad you left this post open for linking purposes.
redhotlips
Mar. 18th, 2010 09:12 pm (UTC)
Interesting visual, thank you. May I ask why you inculded Religious polygamy, but not the labels out there for the various configuartions(polyandry, polygyny, bigamy etc)
(Deleted comment)
binks
Mar. 18th, 2010 11:33 pm (UTC)
Seems like that could fit into a lot of places -- I'd still call that an open relationship, it just has pretty specific boundaries; or it could be a closed poly relationship that hasn't found a third yet, right?
binks
Mar. 18th, 2010 11:31 pm (UTC)
So you fit in on the very edge of closed-group swinging? Interesting, I might have pegged you differently. ;)
xrivet_grrlx
Mar. 19th, 2010 02:49 am (UTC)
*rimshot!* :D

I totally got the reference. Cause I'm perverted like that. ;)
(no subject) - emanix - Apr. 13th, 2010 04:08 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - binks - Apr. 13th, 2010 05:29 pm (UTC) - Expand
pstscrpt
Mar. 19th, 2010 12:22 am (UTC)
I've made polyamory and swinging separate and nonoverlapping here, though of course a person can be polyamorous and also be a swinger
The general consensus of poly people seems to be that casual sex between close friends is polyamory.
The general consensus of swingers seems to be that casual sex between close friends is swinging.
I do identify as both poly and a swinger, and I suspect poly people just accept it as poly because they don't disapprove of it.

I do think casual sex without ruling out progressing to serious relationships is a clear area of overlap, though.
the_failed_poet
Mar. 19th, 2010 02:56 am (UTC)
I absolutely love your overlapping diagrams. Make more!

Also, hell, I'd read it.
dragonbabylisa
Mar. 19th, 2010 04:19 am (UTC)
question
Totally cool, can i repost your diagram?
tacit
Mar. 19th, 2010 04:27 pm (UTC)
Re: question
Absolutely! :)
ab3nd
Mar. 19th, 2010 05:11 pm (UTC)
"But someone could probably write an entire book about con sex."

Do it. DOOO IITTTTT!
petite_lambda
Mar. 20th, 2010 12:26 pm (UTC)
Great! But you know what's missing? Scale. The area of the shapes should represent how common the relationships are. For example, from what I understand, DADT is way more commonly found than polyamory, but it's not reflected in this graph.

Is it even true, btw? I know we don't yet have serious research and stats, but even your hunch would be very valuable, I think. You meet a lot of people in various open relationships.
skittenwench
Mar. 21st, 2010 06:33 pm (UTC)
It's been my experience that the don't ask don't tell type of nonmonofgamy is pretty much prettified cheating...
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( 37 comments — Leave a comment )