Tuesday, September 25, 2012
Poly, swinging, open, or...?
Now, not to say some people don't do that, but as with all populations, there will always be exceptions to the rule.
There are terms tossed around without people seeming to understand what they mean. So let me take a moment for clarification.
When someone says they are "poly," meaning polyamorous, it doesn't necessarily mean they are swingers or have an open marriage.
When someone says they're a "swinger," it doesn't mean they're poly or have an open relationship.
When someone says they have an "open relationship," it doesn't mean they're a swinger or poly.
Or it could mean any or only some of all of the above apply.
The terms are not mutually exclusive, but while sometimes, yes, some people do consider themselves under more than one umbrella, I'm going to discuss the basic differences in them. YMMV.
"Poly" generally means there are established rules or codes of conduct. There isn't any sneaking around behind the other partners' backs. Everyone is on board with what happens. This might mean a "closed" poly group of three or more people, yes, like the menages you read about in fiction, or it might mean one person has more than one partner, but they are committed partners, either permanently or "monogamously" within the confines of the poly group.
For example, in my life, I am in a poly "N" configuration. I am married to Hubby, Sir is married to His wife. Only Sir and I are involved with each other (hence the diagonal on the N), although sometimes Sir and Hubby both top me. The four of us are monogamous within our "pack" as we like to call it. (As in wolf pack.) Occasionally, I will top a male friend of Sir's for play only, but when I do it's usually in an instructional way to show the friend's wife how to use implements.
We are not swingers. We are not "swappers." We are not "open." My primary relationship is Hubby, Sir's primary relationship is His wife. Sir and I are secondary partners to each other.
Poly configurations and rules are as varied as the people in the relationships. We are just one small example of how it can be done.
Swingers are commonly members of clubs or groups (but NO, NOT always) of fellow swingers. They get together for parties or whatnot and have fun as they desire. Not everyone gets lucky at swingers events. People might or might not "swing" outside of their primary relationship on other occasions. Some people only do it within the context of an event or gathering, some have regular partners they swing with.
An "open" relationship is one where members are free, within certain boundaries usually, to seek out other relationships. Sometimes just for sex or fun, sometimes for secondary relationships. Again, it depends on the people.
As I said, these can cross-pollinate (no pun intended, seriously LOL). People can be more than one label. These are just generalities.
Then you have people who consider themselves monogamous, but they might have BDSM playpartners with any level of sexual-type play. To the novice, it might look like sex. But the participants might not consider it sex (for example, orgasm play) and consider themselves monogamous.
Hope that helped clarify things and didn't muddy the water for you. :)
So what are your thoughts on polyamory, swinging, and open relationships?
(Tymber Dalton is a bestselling erotic romance author involved in a poly-N dynamic and is a BDSM switch. You can find her Siren-BookStrand releases HERE, and her website is http://tymberdalton.com)