Categories
Polyamory

Polya and Polyam Are The New Poly Terms

Every once in a while, topics will circle back around in Polyamorous groups. Usually when there’s an influx of new people, either to the area or to ethical non-monogamy (ENM). Recently, one of these topics was about the terms we use. For those of us identifying as polyamorous, should we use poly, polya, or polyam when we want to shorten it? On this blog, I try to stick with polyamorous, just to avoid any confusion. But I’m not perfect and some shortened versions slip through.

It can be surprising to see the debate that crops up over a few letters. But debate they do. And sometimes it gets heated.

Poly vs. Polya or Polyam

So what is the debate exactly? Well, it seems to have started with a post on tumblr from someone in the community suggesting that the use of “poly” was muddying the waters for those identifying as of Polynesian descent. Someone else, after hearing about this, wrote their own thoughts on it and shared a suggestion they had come across: out of respect for the Polynesian community, polyamorous folx should try to update our language to say polya or polyam instead.

Simple enough, right? Lines were quickly drawn though. On one side were those of us who think we should listen when BIPOC speak up and tell us how to be better allies. On other side are multiple reasons for not adjusting the language used. They range from cries of white saviorism to shouts of how “Polynesian” itself was no longer accurate.

Where I stand

If you weren’t sure, I fall into camp #1. BIPOC voices should be heard on all things that affect them and their cultures. And the world should respect what they have to say. Doesn’t matter if it’s one person or a whole community. If they ask us to stop using certain language because it hurts them in any way, then we all need to adjust.

I truly strive to see the good in humanity all around. I enjoy my rose-colored glasses, thank you. So it’s a little disheartening when I see polyamorous circles debate something like this. We are a marginalized community. We face many unflattering stereotypes. Many of us often have to hide that part of our lives from family and coworkers. We should be willing to embrace the words of other marginalized groups, and be better at changing our language when we learn it hurts others.

But we are all human and have vastly different life experiences that lead us to form the beliefs we do. In any community, there will be many different viewpoints. That is what makes it beautiful.

Sound off!

What do you think of changing language to reflect the wishes of marginalized communities? Will you be adjusting yours to reflect what BIPOC voices are saying?

Categories
General Info Polyamory

Jealousy, Sex, Communication, & Compersion: The Truth About Polyamorous Relationships

Hello class, and welcome to Introduction to Polyamory! We are going to answer some of the top questions about polyamorous relationships. Please hold all questions until the end. Do you have your notebook and pen handy? Great!  Here we go!

What is Polyamory?

Polyamory is literally “many loves” when broken down into its root words (poly) and (amor). It is on type of relationship under the large umbrella that is Ethical Non-Monogamy. Many others include, but are not limited to: Swinging, Open Relationships, Monogam-ish.

Back to “many loves”. It is the belief that a person can have multiple loving relationships with the full consent and willingness of their partners. And without compromising any part of those relationships. Polyamorous relationships can look like any monogamous relationship.

Aren’t polyamorous relationships all sexy times and naked games?

No! Some relationships are not sexual at all. And some are purely sexual. Just as some monogamous relationships are.

This is a common misconception about polyamorous relationships. But many people in these relationships will attest to the fact that this lifestyle is about the loving connections we can make with other humans. Those looking for purely sexual encounters are often pointed toward Swinging communities.

What about all that jealousy? And what exactly is Compersion?

Jealousy is actually less of an issue in polyamorous relationships. Because everything is out in the open and talked about incessantly, jealousy has very little ground to gain any kind of foothold. That is not to say it is not a problem at all, or that it can’t pop up. It’s simply saying that jealousy is less likely to become a big problem than in monogamous relationships.

In fact, polyamorous folx like to share their experiences with what they refer to as jealousy’s opposite: Compersion.

It is that feeling of joy for your partner’s happiness. Monogamous folx could compare it to that feeling of happiness when a friend gets married. Or when a family member receives good health news.

Compersion is sharing in your partner’s happiness, specifically in regards to their relationship with their other partner. It is being able to enjoy their giddiness at text messages and dates, in sleepovers and phone calls. Being happy with them, as well as for them.

But isn’t that all just cheating?

No. Why? Because everyone involved is aware of and consents to it before anything happens. Communication is such a huge key factor for those in polyamorous relationships.

And, despite what some may think, cheating is not just for monogamous folx. Cheating can and does happen in polyamorous relationships. Any act that breaks trust and boundaries in a relationship can be considered cheating. For some, watching pornography is cheating. For others, it is only sexual relationships outside of the core one. Only the people in the relationship can define what cheating means to them.

The 3 C’s of healthy polyamorous relationships: Communication, Communication, Communication

It’s a little like the running joke for real estate: Location, Location, Location!

You might think communication is a no-brainer when it comes to relationships. You may be one of those people who are already good at expressing your wants and needs and feelings to your partner. But the majority of people aren’t. It is something we learn the hard way, usually through multiple failed relationships.

In polyamorous relationships, communication skills are a must. Everything is talked to death it seems. People in polyamorous relationships learn to be open and honest about everything going on their lives with each of their partners. They learn that keeping secrets or hidden feelings are unhealthy and lead to major problems all around. So talking about boundaries, feelings, and all of the stuff you were taught to just bottle up inside, becomes normal and freeing.

And that includes the uncomfortable topics like safe sex practices and STI status and screenings. If you are going to have grown up relationships, you need to be able to have grown up conversations about all the things those relationships could entail.  

Communication skills with others are paramount in polyamorous relationships. But you must also be able to communicate with yourself. How can you explain to your partner that you are feeling left out or insecure if you are not able to figure out those feelings for yourself. Communication starts internally. You must learn to recognize thoughts and feelings for what they are, where they stem from, and then share that with your partner(s).

Is Polyamory right for me?

Only you can answer that. Polyamory is hard. It’s not for everyone. And it is not a way to fix or help an existing troubled relationship. There is no one size fits all approach to it. If you are interested in exploring polyamory, or any form of ethical non-monogamy, start with some reading. You can check out our resources list here for my favorite books, podcasts, and websites.

Alright, that concludes your Introduction to Polyamory! I hope you learned something. Please leave any questions you may have in the comments below. Or shoot us a message here.

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