Friday, July 3, 2009

terminology and why we're here

Okay people. Lets talk about terminology for a second. Because, annoying as it may be, we all use specific words to describe specific things and there's really no way to circumvent that. We could choose to beat on drums to communicate, or use a pattern of dance moves to communicate, or use a group of hand signals to communicate. But in the end, it's all the same thing. Whether we choose dance or beats or hand signs or a set of sounds that come from vocal cords, it all comes down to recognizing a pattern of some agreed upon symbols. Symbols that we, as a community, agree to have certain meanings.

Now, don't get me wrong. I understand how squishy language and communication can be (and more often than not, is). And I know I don't have to tell the DIY relationship community how rarely one word has the same inferred meaning from person to person. But. I want to build a dialogue here for a purpose. And in order to communicate in that dialogue we have to have terminology that has a generally agreed upon and understood meanings.

Part of the reason I'm writing this blog is to do what I can to push DIY relationships into the social and, eventually, legal spotlight. I'm so incredibly proud and excited by what has happened in our culture in the last few years regarding same sex couples. We are seeing amazing social change happening right now. I feel that it's the next inevitable step that multipartner relationships will see the same great strides happen socially and legally. But it's gotta start somewhere. And if our terminology is too squishy then we will just have one more hurdle to jump once multipartner relationships start becoming more focused on by society at large.

So. Let's start with the term that is probably most inclusive and coined by a lovely friend of mine: DIY relationship. What does this mean? I see this as meaning any kind of relationship that chooses to not be governed by the set of societally imposed rules that make up monogamy. Now, this doesn't necessarily connotate having multiple partners or being in an open relationship. There is a lot more wrapped up in the idea of monogamy than just whom one has sex with. Traditional ideas about monogamy also have a lot to say about how monogamous people conduct themselves around friends in both public and private. Lets say, for example, that a person who chooses to be in a two person exclusive relationship has a sleepover once a month with a platonic friend of the gender that that person is attracted to. Lets say they even sleep in the same bed and snuggle. In a society of monogamous relationships such behavior would probably be completely unacceptable, even though there is no sex involved. So choosing to be in a DIY relationship means that the people who are in the relationship sit down and work out the boundaries of their relationships together. Based on their own needs, based on what they are comfortable with, based on what they desire. They write the rules themselves.

The term DIY relationship can apply to any configuration of people, regardless of gender, sex, or number of people. It can include the two person exclusive couple, an exclusive triad, an open four person relationship, a poly pod household of twelve, whatever. It doesn't matter. It's all about the way that the relationship is created and maintained. It's about thinking for yourself instead of following a dogma imposed from outside.

So. That's my two cents. Anyone wanna expand?

1 comment:

  1. I think this is spot on. This defining of terms will likely be the biggest challenge that the poly community will have to deal with.

    Just as there is much diversity within the GLBT community and discussion about what it means to be gay or lesbian, there seems to be exponetialy as much in the poly community. Because, as you stated, there are so many diffrent possible configurations. Open as a relationship label can be kind of vague and a bit misleading.

    But you have to start somewhere. Which means that


make it up as you go along: