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Dec 5, 2012 Unwisdom commented on Savage Love.
Regarding the notion of primaries and secondaries, I don't see how this can be avoided if a person is to have any fluidity in their relationships.

But surely the point is that a polyamorous person (or, if we accept the idea of a spectrum, a "mostly polyamorous person") would have a number of simultaneous romantic and/or sexual relationships, and that these relationships would take on their own characters and own trajectories. Some would be brief, some would be long lasting. Some would be more sexual, and some would be less so. And as the natures of these relationships change over time, both in absolute terms and relative to each other, the identification of the "closest relationship" would also change (possibly to the extent that the concept lost meaning).

Fitting such a life around the notion of marriage is difficult; marriage is an intrinsically monogamistic institution, and doesn't seem like a very good fit for the relationship model I mentioned above.

But again, if we accept the spectrum idea, it is quite believable that many polyamorous people are really midway on the spectrum, and that for such people it is possible to find a long term relationship which remains the "closest relationship" for an extended period. For such people, it would seem that marriage is compatible with polyamory.

And disputing that such people are truly polyamorous as @Ricardo (107) suggests, is a bit like saying that bisexuals aren't gay; it's sort of true in a narrow sense, but when viewed more pragmatically, it misses the point.
Dec 5, 2012 Unwisdom commented on Savage Love.

I think I understand your point: you're arguing that polyamorous behavior, or polyamorous relationship models, can differ in kind as well as degree, and so it is an oversimplification to place it on a continuum. Is that right?

I'm sympathetic to the point, but I feel that matters are getting a bit confused; with your discussion of polyamory, polyfidelity, and monogamy, you are talking about behaviors rather than desires. But the whole "orientation" line of discussion has been about individuals' preferences and desires, rather than their actions.

I'd be open to a line of argument suggesting that this behavior/desire distinction is a false dichotomy, but I'm not sure that that is where you're going.

In fact, I suspect that you are fighting the wrong battle. When you write: "I'm opposed to monogamy because I think it's fundamentally incompatible with human sexual happiness", it seems to me that you are denying the idea that monogamy can be satisfying, and therefore denying that idea that it can be an orientation. And I don't see how polyamory can be an orientation if monogamy is not.

Rather, it seems to me that your goal is not the acceptance of a polyamorous orientation, but the recognition that no one is innately monogamous, and therefore that monogamous relationship models are intrinsically flawed.
Dec 5, 2012 Unwisdom commented on Savage Love.
@Hyacinth: Thanks.
Dec 5, 2012 Unwisdom commented on Savage Love.
For all this talk of a "mono/polyamorous spectrum", there seems to be a lot if dichotomous thinking going on. if it really is a spectrum (leaving aside the terminological issue of whether it is an "orientation") then it's not just a case of there being polys and monos; some people would be more polyamorous than others.

This doesn't seem unreasonable.

Someone who is right at the mono end of the spectrum is easy to visualize; they seek out a single partner, and have no interest in a romantic relationship outside of the twosome - no desire for an extra-marital affair, no desire for a threesome, no desire for a flirtation with a colleague at work.

As noted by any number of commenters, most people, even those who broadly identify as mono, are probably not quite at this extreme.

For me at least, it is harder to imagine what an extreme poly would look like. But my sense is that such a person would prefer to have a number of concurrent romantic relationships, with no need to privilege one over the others.

If this is correct, then, just as with the monos, it would seem from the (happily married) commenters writing here that the same pattern observed with the monos holds; most self-identifying polys are not quite at the pole and are, at least a little bit, mono.
Dec 5, 2012 Unwisdom commented on Savage Love.
"I was immature as a teenager but was still not sexually/romantically jealous."

Interesting - thanks for the reply.

As I said, I don't have any intuition for polyamory, so I don't know when I can and can't apply my knowledge of how I would feel in a given situation.

You don't feel sexual or romantic jealousy, and you didn't even when you were still young. But what about insecurity? If a partner was interested in someone much more attractive than you, have you have feelings of resentment?
Dec 5, 2012 Unwisdom commented on Savage Love.
@47 This is an interesting claim: "I actually agree that wanting to have sex with multiple people is not poly, if the person would then freak out if their partner did the same."

This would seem to preclude possessive assholes from being poly. But there are gay possessive assholes and straight possessive assholes. There are monogamous possessive assholes. There are possessive assholes who are only attracted to blond(e)s, and possessive assholes who are only attracted to brun(ette)s.

Do you really think that being poly means that you don't feel jealousy when your partner has sex with someone else. That while a poly might be able to be an asshole, they genuinely can't be (sexually) possessive?

(And of course, one doesn't have to be a possessive asshole to be sexually possessive; one's possessiveness could also be a result of sexual insecurity.)

To be clear, I am not asserting that you are definitely overstating your case. I have no personal experience to draw on here, so I am open to possibility that you really meant what you wrote. But I want to highlight that your claim seems to imply that one must be quite mature and secure in order to be poly.

My guess is that a successful polyamorous relationship requires maturity and a sense of security from all its participants, but the ability to actually conduct a successful relationship is a different matter entirely from one's orientation or identity.
Dec 5, 2012 Unwisdom commented on Savage Love.
@73 I'm trying to work out whether "pedant" is just part of my identity, or whether I am actually oriented towards pedantry.

(We pedants will soon have a schism of our own, over whether we prefer pedantry or pedanticalness.)
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