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The Map of Non Monogamy [via]
posted by empath (139 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite

 
Comic Sans! Need I say more?
posted by sanko at 8:13 AM on October 24, 2010 [9 favorites]


Dang, I've had imported hardware manuals that were easier and more inviting reads than that. It makes me overcome with the urge to spend a desire-filled evening with Oreo ice cream, my quilting supplies and some BBC dramas.

Additional uncalled-for comment: the first commenter's LJ userpic is the most LJ userpic of possible LJ userpics.
posted by Countess Elena at 8:14 AM on October 24, 2010


I like that the map looks like an orgy.
posted by SouthCNorthNY at 8:14 AM on October 24, 2010 [7 favorites]


I like that the 'map' is really more of a confusing mess.

Unicorn polyamory is a term?! HAHAHA
posted by graventy at 8:17 AM on October 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


Like an orgy, I suppose.
posted by graventy at 8:18 AM on October 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


I like that the map looks like an orgy.

Why do you think he called it A Romance of Many Dimensions?
posted by griphus at 8:18 AM on October 24, 2010


I'd like to propose a new profile option Matt.
posted by The Whelk at 8:18 AM on October 24, 2010 [6 favorites]


Comic Sans! Need I say more?

Comic Sans improves learning.
posted by empath at 8:19 AM on October 24, 2010 [7 favorites]


Looks kind of like a subway map.
posted by jonmc at 8:20 AM on October 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


That right there is why AskMe will NEVER, EVER run out of questions.
posted by Hardcore Poser at 8:21 AM on October 24, 2010 [46 favorites]


Looks kind of like a subway map.

Oh christ don't tell cory doctorow
posted by empath at 8:21 AM on October 24, 2010 [30 favorites]


Map of Regular Monogamy:

[large white square, w/ this text inside]:

"Wanna have sex tonight?"
"No."
posted by Avenger at 8:21 AM on October 24, 2010 [66 favorites]


Where does 'mefi meetup' fall?
posted by empath at 8:22 AM on October 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Where does 'mefi meetup' fall?

Tape that map to a dartboard and there you go.
posted by griphus at 8:25 AM on October 24, 2010 [3 favorites]


Where does 'mefi meetup' fall?

On the sidewalk after the 10th shot, usually.
posted by jonmc at 8:27 AM on October 24, 2010 [13 favorites]


See also: conditional homosexuality through kink.

0: I'm sorry, that's a hard limit. No.

1: I don't mind threesomes! But don't cross the streams!

2: I have sex with other women because it's socially required, as a woman. Not really my cup of tea, though. Or: "I'll kiss a man at the party if you two girls make out."

3: Master only lets me play with women and I'm bitter. I'm straight, god damn it! Still gonna do it though.

4: Master only lets me play with other women. Kink is kink.

5: I fantasize about the same gender once in a blue moon. Everyone does.

6: It's total humiliation to have sex with your own gender. Hawt!

7: I'm Hetroflexiable!

8: Happily partnered with opposite sex, but seeing same sex for a kinky relationship behind their back. It's just a fantasy, my fetish doesn't make me gay.

9: I only mess around with the same sex, but I am still doggedly ID-ing as straight.

10: I'm in love with a person, not their gender. Good sex life though!
posted by Phalene at 8:28 AM on October 24, 2010 [7 favorites]


I blame the internet for making people think that an issue this complicated could be described in a cute design that could fit on a t-shirt (only $9.99 at shirt.woot!).
posted by munchingzombie at 8:28 AM on October 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Can I get this on my GPS?
posted by fourcheesemac at 8:29 AM on October 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


I got on at Casual Sex using my NonNormative EZ pass and took the Internet Express to Dating Around after a brief layover in Polyamory before missing the 4:20 to Open Relation and forced to spend an hour slimming around Con Sex.


And now I'm all sticky.
posted by The Whelk at 8:30 AM on October 24, 2010 [13 favorites]


1: I don't mind threesomes! But don't cross the streams!

Keep your Ghostbuster cosplay fetish out of this.
posted by jonmc at 8:33 AM on October 24, 2010 [6 favorites]


Now I feel even more square than usual...
posted by Slothrup at 8:36 AM on October 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


You crazy kids!
posted by Artw at 8:38 AM on October 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


Non-monogamy would include celibacy, which is missing from the chart.
posted by beagle at 8:38 AM on October 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


Celibacy is the white space the map floats in.
posted by The Whelk at 8:39 AM on October 24, 2010 [10 favorites]


Vat is das sex, pliss?
posted by The Lady is a designer at 8:39 AM on October 24, 2010


Non-monogamy would include celibacy, which is missing from the chart.

Don't be silly, nobody CHOOSES to be celibate!
posted by elsietheeel at 8:41 AM on October 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


Now I feel even more square than usual...
Me too; I learned 3 new terms.
(Thanks, Google!)
posted by MtDewd at 8:44 AM on October 24, 2010


Non-monogamy looks like an awful lot of work.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 8:47 AM on October 24, 2010 [18 favorites]


Celibacy is the white space the map floats in.
There are some strange islands way out there away from the mainland.
posted by Wolfdog at 8:50 AM on October 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


You've never been cornered by someone who wants to tell you how their polyamory works? It all sounds horrendously complicated, and the only thing they ever talk about.
posted by Artw at 8:50 AM on October 24, 2010 [30 favorites]


(also one always suspects that five years later they'll do a complete 180 and become an evangelical)
posted by Artw at 8:53 AM on October 24, 2010 [10 favorites]


Non-monogamy looks like an awful lot of work.

It all sounds horrendously complicated, and the only thing they ever talk about.

I've always seen polyamory as akin to being really into Warhammer 40K. There's an enormous time and financial investment, jawdropping stress and exasperation over tiny, tiny details, massive drama over the misunderstanding of completely artificial rules and a complete inability to find someone interested in it outside of the community.
posted by griphus at 8:54 AM on October 24, 2010 [125 favorites]


Fixed for the internet.
posted by Taft at 8:55 AM on October 24, 2010 [25 favorites]


MetaFilter: Jawdropping stress and exasperation over tiny, tiny details, massive drama over the misunderstanding of completely artificial rules and a complete inability to find someone interested in it outside of the community.
posted by Wolfdog at 8:56 AM on October 24, 2010 [53 favorites]


And of course the supposedly judgement free map manages to suggest that religiously inspired polygamy can't overlap with anything else.

I am not the biggest fan of religious polygamy, of course, but... come on.
posted by mightygodking at 8:59 AM on October 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Unicorn polyamory is a term?! HAHAHA


In certain circles I travel in, one hears the term "unicorn" a lot, usually referring to a sub girl willing to play with a couple.

Yeah, they don't exist in real life either.
posted by newpotato at 9:03 AM on October 24, 2010 [17 favorites]


Keep your Ghostbuster cosplay fetish out of this.

No, it's okay, as long as nobody's Slimer.

(ew)
posted by maqsarian at 9:04 AM on October 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


This is the perfect illustration of why I suspect that monogamy is the default (that is, public and/or acceptable) social state for most of humanity. Not because we're good at it, or because it's easy, or natural, or because men don't want to raise children that aren't theirs. Monogamy is prevalent because the alternative is so horribly complicated that many (most?) people couldn't be poly and earn a living or raise children or have hobbies.

So maybe this is just for that 1%. You know, like the Walton heirs, who just have nothing better to do.
posted by Leta at 9:07 AM on October 24, 2010 [4 favorites]


I just now realized that both Ghostbusters films end with everyone covered in goo.

(again, ew)
posted by maqsarian at 9:09 AM on October 24, 2010 [4 favorites]


And of course the supposedly judgement free map manages to suggest that religiously inspired polygamy can't overlap with anything else.

Spare the rod, spoil the wives?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 9:15 AM on October 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


My sexual activities: let me tell you them!
posted by paisley henosis at 9:16 AM on October 24, 2010 [9 favorites]


This is the perfect illustration of why I suspect that monogamy is the default (that is, public and/or acceptable) social state for most of humanity.

The map isn't to scale, it only shows relative placement.

If it were to scale, the 'cheating' oval would fill the screen and the rest of the map would be displayed in a little inset box with an arrow pointing to a small dot off to one side.
posted by device55 at 9:37 AM on October 24, 2010 [21 favorites]


Monogamy is prevalent because the alternative is so horribly complicated that many (most?) people couldn't be poly and earn a living or raise children or have hobbies.

What's the statistic about how many "monogamous" people cheat again? Or did you miss that part of the map?

Seems to me that the deception involved in many supposedly monogamous marriages is rather more complicated.
posted by RedEmma at 9:40 AM on October 24, 2010 [10 favorites]


I think we need at least two more spacial dimensions to make a proper map of human sexuality. Everything overlaps with everything, and you'll destroy your mind if you try to navigate it. Just try to figure out where you are, and just remember your coordinates to figure out where you are relative to someone else.
posted by mccarty.tim at 9:40 AM on October 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


This is the perfect illustration of why I suspect that monogamy is the default (that is, public and/or acceptable) social state for most of humanity. Not because we're good at it, or because it's easy, or natural, or because men don't want to raise children that aren't theirs. Monogamy is prevalent because the alternative is so horribly complicated that many (most?) people couldn't be poly and earn a living or raise children or have hobbies.

You know, I'm poly and I don't find polyamory that complicated. It might be the fact that I live in the simplest of possible non-monogamious relationships, a V. I'm dating my boyfriend and he is dating someone else. We all live together! And other than that it's basically like I'm single, I can sleep with anyone else I want and date whoever I want. If my bf disapproves of I guy I'm dating then that gets handled on a case by case basis, and doesn't come up that often.

I honestly think that the confusion comes up when people aren't comfortable letting go because of the societal pressures that made monogamy come up in the first place. I don't think about sexual matters any more than any single person does.
posted by The Devil Tesla at 9:41 AM on October 24, 2010 [10 favorites]


Wait, I'm confused. Why is this so complicated? You and the person you're with figure out what system works for you, you talk whenever there's a disagreement, and if another person becomes majorly involved then you talk to them too.

Does this really have to be a community thing? It's not like people who prefer monogamy all get together and figure out a taxonomy, yet monogamy's still a term encompassing a diverse series of relationships.
posted by Rory Marinich at 9:43 AM on October 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


If my bf disapproves of I guy I'm dating then that gets handled on a case by case basis, and doesn't come up that often.

If you are capable of genuinely loving multiple people, that situation is the kicker for ridiculous complexity, IMO.
posted by griphus at 9:46 AM on October 24, 2010


...yet monogamy's still a term encompassing a diverse series of relationships.

But the diversity, at least in my observation, is a thimbleful compared to the different sorts of polyamorous relationships. I've met quite a number of people with the same, standard setup of Monogamy, and yet every set of polyamorous people have never had the same set of rules as another. Yes, there's a whole mess of selection bias in there considering how comfortable these people are w/r/t talking to me about their sex lives, but there appears to be a very clear distinction.
posted by griphus at 9:49 AM on October 24, 2010


It's not like people who prefer monogamy all get together and figure out a taxonomy

What about all the parsing out of marriage vs cohabitating vs common-law vs civil partnerships vs etc etc etc? I think the monogamous people (which is where I mostly sit) make plenty of taxonomic distinctions, with the added muscle of civil, religious, and legal enforcement on our side.
posted by Forktine at 9:55 AM on October 24, 2010 [5 favorites]


There should be an episode of Star Trek where they go to a planet exactly like 1950's America, but instead of everyone being monogamous, they have an elaborate dom-sub system. Spock remarks how arbitrary our own marriage system is (perhaps makes an allusion to Star Fleet allowing gay marriage), Bones makes a dumb joke to insult Spock's Vulcanness. Spock cries (on the inside), Kirk smiles at the camera. The clarinet of humor plays and the episode ends.
posted by mccarty.tim at 9:58 AM on October 24, 2010 [11 favorites]


If you are capable of genuinely loving multiple people, that situation is the kicker for ridiculous complexity, IMO.

Hay, sorry, but I'm not entirely sure what you mean here.

Two things: 1) I think that everyone is capable of loving multiple people. 2) What stops the complexity is if the people you love let you love multiple people.
posted by The Devil Tesla at 10:01 AM on October 24, 2010 [3 favorites]


And here's a map of monogamy:
O
posted by iamkimiam at 10:02 AM on October 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


If this was REALLY correct, there would be an elephant shaped object covering all of it. Because all these rules are only there because in each situation, there is always some elephant in the room that nobody will acknowledge. There is always *something* that will break even the most well thought out relationship taxonomy.

"You can do anyone or anything you want."

[does nothing]

"Get out of my life!"
posted by gjc at 10:06 AM on October 24, 2010 [3 favorites]


Hay, sorry, but I'm not entirely sure what you mean here.

Er, by "loving" I mean "having a serious relationship with." What I see as the problem is a significant clash between Boyfriend A and Boyfriend B if you've developed equal amount of feelings for the two and one does not think the other is Good For You on account of some personality trait (rather than jealousy) the other has. How do you proceed in a situation where by continuing to be with someone you genuinely love/want to build a life with you risk utterly alienating the other person you genuinely love/want to build a life with? Yes, they're fine with you loving other people on principle, but this particularly person, who you are as in love with as the other, cannot stand the other.
posted by griphus at 10:06 AM on October 24, 2010


Like the map, hate the quotes. My impression is that based on their snarkiness, it seems to me this was made by someone with an axe to grind against non-monogamy.
posted by tybeet at 10:17 AM on October 24, 2010


And here's a map of monogamy:
O


Does that circle include serial monogamy, life long monogamy, divorce, remarriage after divorce, marriage, common law marriage, arranged marriages, live-in-life-partner, exclusive friends with benefits, and asexual relationships?

It would help to know the scale here.
posted by device55 at 10:19 AM on October 24, 2010 [4 favorites]


I'm just going to leave this here. This person should have used FetLife.
posted by mccarty.tim at 10:21 AM on October 24, 2010 [3 favorites]


My impression is that based on their snarkiness, it seems to me this was made by someone with an axe to grind against non-monogamy.

Come on, it's on live journal.
posted by empath at 10:21 AM on October 24, 2010


[does anyone else really want an image tag so they can post snarky venn diagram responses?]
posted by device55 at 10:22 AM on October 24, 2010 [3 favorites]


I think people should have exclusive friendships of each type, to prevent harmful friend-friend interactions. For example, you get one friend to go drinking with, one friend who you choose to be your best man at your wedding, one friend who you go to for advice, and one friend who you just kinda know so that you can get clients for work.

Anything else is just insanely complicated, and is just asking to be in the middle of a horrible friendship triangle where you have to mediate two angry friends.
posted by mccarty.tim at 10:23 AM on October 24, 2010 [13 favorites]


This person should have used FetLife.

I would stay away from any website where my mystery match may be a gelatinous cube. Then again, at least you know it has a job. Apparently at Matthew Lesko's house.
posted by griphus at 10:23 AM on October 24, 2010 [3 favorites]


There should be an episode of Star Trek where they go to a planet exactly like 1950's America, but instead of everyone being monogamous, they have an elaborate dom-sub system.

So you mean exactly like 1950s America, then.
posted by empath at 10:23 AM on October 24, 2010 [30 favorites]


This isn't all that complicated.

The relationship ends (for some or all parties). You have described irreconcilable differences which are not fundamentally different from, say, a married person falling in love with their coworker, and still loving their spouse. Something's gotta give.
posted by device55 at 10:25 AM on October 24, 2010


You'd need to be a 3rd Stage Guild Navigator on a 1000 year Spice bender to find that map useful.
posted by zippy at 10:40 AM on October 24, 2010 [5 favorites]


What's the statistic about how many "monogamous" people cheat again? Or did you miss that part of the map?

Yeah, my usual response to "polyamory can't possibly work!" is to note that monogamy doesn't appear to be working too well for a lot of people.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:47 AM on October 24, 2010 [5 favorites]


Monogamy is complicated enough for me, my little brain could never handle the logistics of anything beyond that.
posted by octothorpe at 10:48 AM on October 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


My boyfriend says that monogamy is like running a standard OS (maybe windows is a good analogy) and non-monogamy is like running linux. Rather than having things work a certain way by default, and leaving that unexamined, you have to think through the details and put in some effort to implement things the way you want them.

It involves a lot of conversations about feelings. Successful monogamy could involve just as many conversations about feelings but most people choose not to do that work.
posted by mai at 10:51 AM on October 24, 2010 [13 favorites]


Please can we use this thread to also make fun of the conservative talking point where they say "Gay marriage is bad because it's a slippery slope to polygamy!" And then when you argue polygamy isn't bad so long as there's consent, they just kind of look at you funny?
posted by mccarty.tim at 10:52 AM on October 24, 2010


I approve this use of Comic Sans.
posted by ErikaB at 10:54 AM on October 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


It can be difficult to share something you value.
(Voice of experience)
posted by squalor at 10:57 AM on October 24, 2010 [3 favorites]


How do you proceed in a situation where by continuing to be with someone you genuinely love/want to build a life with you risk utterly alienating the other person you genuinely love/want to build a life with?

I haven't reached this point, so I don't really know. It has gotten somewhere near that point with my boyfriend and his boyfriend, but the objections came as much from concerns about one another's emotional well being.

If me and my boyfriend came to this kind of problem I think it would for a good reason, likely because he was scared that I would be hurt from this dating situation. I'd hope that he'd care about me enough to get in the way if he truly believed that. But yea, I think I'm smart enough to avoid those kind of situations, and that my boyfriend is open minded enough and tactful enough to not get in the way of a relationship he didn't like me being in just because he personally didn't like someone.

Keeping this from coming up mostly comes down to not confusing the second situation (I find this person annoying) with the first situation (I think this person is putting him in harms way). One thing I love about my boyfriend is that he doesn't confuse altruism with what he wants. Really, even monogamous relationships are a lot more healthy when both partners know how to so this.
posted by The Devil Tesla at 11:02 AM on October 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


What's wrong with comic sans?
posted by biochemist at 11:03 AM on October 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Everything.
posted by PROD_TPSL at 11:08 AM on October 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Comic sans is a much bigger violation of trust.
posted by The Whelk at 11:09 AM on October 24, 2010 [4 favorites]


And Papyrus is unnatural and an affront to God.
posted by mccarty.tim at 11:16 AM on October 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Papyrus is a slipper slope to Celtic md.
posted by The Whelk at 11:17 AM on October 24, 2010 [3 favorites]


Sex is not like linux. Not even a little bit.
posted by keratacon at 11:21 AM on October 24, 2010 [9 favorites]


Sex is like Firewire ports. Yes, you can daisy-chain, but chances are it will still be a pretty lacking analogy.
posted by mccarty.tim at 11:22 AM on October 24, 2010 [13 favorites]


Sometimes it's hard to get community support.
posted by The Whelk at 11:22 AM on October 24, 2010 [8 favorites]


I rejected a grant proposal last week solely because of the applying organization's use of comic sans, not only on the proposal itself, but on their website.

I regret nothing.
posted by elizardbits at 11:25 AM on October 24, 2010 [17 favorites]


A married couple I know each have a partner of the same gender, which is totally fine, but when one flirted with an opposite sex partner it almost broke up the marriage. Strange how boundaries fall.

I was quite pleased to learn that it worked for them otherwise, though, as - outside of the LJ women's community I was in where everyone seemed to be poly - I'd met a lot of people who used 'polyamorous' to mean 'I cheat on people and don't care if it upsets them.' It's nice that it works for some people. It's not for me - I can't even share an ice-cream - but hey.
posted by mippy at 11:35 AM on October 24, 2010


Any more, stuff like this just makes me feel old.
posted by kalessin at 11:36 AM on October 24, 2010


Humans would probably be much happier if they loved some people and had sex with other people.* It's when you try to love and have sex with the same person that things get weird.

It's like blending Comic Sans with Papyrus. There, I said it.

*Or opted out of one or both activities, of course.
posted by FelliniBlank at 11:37 AM on October 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yeah, my usual response to "polyamory can't possibly work!" is to note that monogamy doesn't appear to be working too well for a lot of people.

Right, which tells you that the number of partners is not the issue.

Try this as an exercise:

Remove all marketing and social pressures that boil down to: "There's a party going on and you're missing out/not invited" (see the two trains in "Startdust Memories"). This will immediately remove many "sacred" institutions like Comedy Central and MTV-style hip hop as well as about 99.9% of all advertising. It might also include many of your "friends" who post pictures of themselves to facebook with their arms spread open and their mouths agape mid-yell. It might also (unfortunately) include family members or your partner or spouse.

What's left are your actual friends, people you can rely on and trust with your emotions. People who bust you when you're being stupid, applaud you when you're being generous but support you in any case.

Ironically enough, ime, turns out the sex is, in fact, better when that is the basis of your relationship. By "better" I mean it is, except in the most reptilian sense, unfathomable to start zipping around town looking for someone else to shake your penis at.
posted by victors at 11:39 AM on October 24, 2010 [3 favorites]


What do you have against mouths agape mid-yell?
posted by The Whelk at 11:47 AM on October 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Having just jammed the HBO series Rome I am finding this entire discussion amusingly parochial. I am trying to locate the place on the map where your wife understands that since you're a Senator of course you're going to fuck the slaves.
posted by localroger at 11:50 AM on October 24, 2010 [9 favorites]


Somewhere in the vicinity of Commerce, I would have thought.
posted by Artw at 11:52 AM on October 24, 2010 [4 favorites]


And pimping your son out to the general is just good parenting.
posted by The Whelk at 11:52 AM on October 24, 2010 [3 favorites]


I try to be pretty sex positive, even though I've only been in monogamous relationships.

However, I feel like arguing that cheating is proof that monogamy doesn't work is like saying stealing is proof that capitalism doesn't work. The fact is that monogamy is a system made up of rules, and people will break those rules, like in any other system. Granted, we could argue that the issue is that when things break in monogamy, they break pretty bad, what with court battles and all of that stuff.

Of course, the whole premise of poly systems is to loosen up those rules so that people will be happier, but there will still be a few rules, and probably a lot more communication.

I think the real issue is just that human intimate relations aren't going to be safe (talking heartbreak, not STDs) or simple no matter how you slice it. Monogamy just seems the safest because it's so familiar. It's a bit like how people go through their lives afraid of things like getting murdered at gunpoint when they're really more likely to get killed in a car accident.
posted by mccarty.tim at 11:53 AM on October 24, 2010 [5 favorites]


Speaking of slavery, it's also kind of amusing what a prominent role the side fetish S&M has in the polyamory map; I suppose that's because S&M people are so prone to form clubs and meetups for other reasons where polyamorous relationships form as a matter of course.
posted by localroger at 11:55 AM on October 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


First of all, coerced relationships shouldn't be on this map at all (ala cult/child marriages) in that they are not "relationships"; they are rape/slavery. Once actual (as opposed to staged/voluntary) coercion enters the picture, you are dealing with a criminal act.

Re: the "Poly is too complicated/no it isn't": You could make the case that any relationship, mono or poly, that involves someone cheating/using deceit is much more complicated than any relationship that doesn't. If everyone knows how things stand and are all honest, things stay pretty simple; if they don't, then Drama Ensues.
posted by emjaybee at 11:55 AM on October 24, 2010 [4 favorites]


However, I feel like arguing that cheating is proof that monogamy doesn't work is like saying stealing is proof that capitalism doesn't work.

Well, it is and it doesn't.
posted by The Devil Tesla at 11:57 AM on October 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


Non-monogamy looks like an awful lot of work.

It all sounds horrendously complicated, and the only thing they ever talk about.


If you have to ask, you'll never know.

I've always assumed that the people stuck fucking (or rather *not* fucking) the same person for 50 years are just jealous. Also I don't know WHAT kind of relationships all these "monogamy is simple" folks are in.
posted by Lutoslawski at 12:00 PM on October 24, 2010


I'm in a poly relationship. It works until it doesn't... just like every other relationship arrangement in the world.

I will not wave a flag or advocate for it as a lifestyle. It has worked for me/us. It works even better for some people. For others, it wouldn't work at all. I may go back to monogamy. I may not. I'll say this much: I've never, ever cheated, within monogamous relationships or on either of my current partners. There's more to it than simply being a horndog.

...though, thank you, Internet, for spoiling my dream of having a harem of hot chicks that cheerfully agree that I'm the only male in the entire world worth sleeping with. After slapping a name like "unicorn" on it, even I look down on my own fantasies now...
posted by scaryblackdeath at 12:06 PM on October 24, 2010 [3 favorites]


Sorry, non-snark comment: Any relationship is as complicated or simple as the people involved make it. There are a lot of people in messy poly relationships who have to juggle having sex with many people and such (damn, sounds rough). There are lots of people in mono relationships who have to go to endless couples therapy and hash out why their sex life has ended and who buy endless numbers of self-help books trying to understand why they are so devoted to someone they are so unhappy with.

It really depends on the people involved, and not the type of relationship, as one might expect. Prima facie, complexity/simplicity/workability is not inherent in any type or arrangement of human-human(s) relationship.
posted by Lutoslawski at 12:07 PM on October 24, 2010 [3 favorites]


emjaybee, while my tendency is to agree with you even that is a fairly modern attitude. Many of those cult wives would claim that they are in fact in their relationships voluntarily, and even if you posit that they are victims of capture bonding / Stockholm syndrome it makes me rather nervous to say it's OK to invalidate a person's statement of their current feelings on a speculation about how in the past they might have come to have those feelings. It seems that attitude is ripe for abuse in other ways.

In any case it is only within the last couple of hundred years that the idea that slaves or plebes or lower people of whatever caste should enjoy security from the sexual advances of their economic or political superiors, or that people who have the power should resist the urge to spread their attentions around as possible. In fact it's a fairly modern idea that sex is such a big and special deal that considering sexual assault especially bad makes any sense.
posted by localroger at 12:11 PM on October 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Ooh, I have spotted a categorization error! Joining Hugh Hefner's harem is definitely a commercial transaction.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 12:13 PM on October 24, 2010 [5 favorites]


Prima facie, complexity/simplicity/workability is not inherent in any type or arrangement of human-human(s) relationship.

I disagree. I believe that the more people you get involved, you have an inherently larger chance of complications arising. They may not, but the chance is higher simply because there are more actors and therefore more possible surface area for clashes.
posted by griphus at 12:14 PM on October 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


localroger: I am trying to locate the place on the map where your wife understands that since you're a Senator of course you're going to fuck the slaves.

Well, the map includes, "My husband the senator is not having relations with his secretary." So...upper left.
posted by washburn at 12:23 PM on October 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


But washburn, that's an example of the wife pretending it isn't happening because it wouldn't be right if it was. In ancient Rome it was understood that powerful men could pretty much fuck whoever they wanted, and there was nothing inherently wrong with this. A wife would be considered unreasonably grabby to object to this.

(And yes, I know I'm talking about a fictionalization, but I happen to know this is an example of doing their homework pretty well. Take it from someone who was born on Lupercalia.)
posted by localroger at 12:46 PM on October 24, 2010


"Stuck" fucking the same person for fifty years?

Excuse me, but your bias is showing.
posted by five fresh fish at 12:53 PM on October 24, 2010 [18 favorites]


Lutoslawski, I'm in a monogamous relationship. It's quite rewarding, very complex, and I haven't found even one other person who could possibly both keep up with me and WANT TO. And we started out poly, so believe me, we've both tried to see if there were.

I'm glad you're glad and happy to be in your skin, but please don't assume you know how the other side lives.
posted by kalessin at 1:05 PM on October 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


I've always assumed that it's the people stuck fucking (or rather *not* fucking) the same species for 50 years that are jealous, myself.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 1:22 PM on October 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


>Stuck" fucking the same person for fifty years?

Excuse me, but your bias is showing.


QFT

The inability to remain monogamous may or may not be a component in a poly relationship. It also may or may not be a component in a monogamous relationship. If we pretend this map isn't just for the lulz and take it seriously for a moment...the cheating oval would be the area of intersection between the mono and poly mega-bubbles.

I think it is fair to point out, however, that the high incidence of cheating indicates that perhaps a very strict definition of monogamy is unrealistic and perhaps untenable. I think also that anyone venturing into a serious and lengthy relationship should consider that forgiveness may need to be part of the rules defining your relationship, regardless of the number of partners.
posted by device55 at 1:34 PM on October 24, 2010 [6 favorites]


You've never been cornered by someone who wants to tell you how their polyamory works? It all sounds horrendously complicated, and the only thing they ever talk about.

You need to hang out with better people, then. All my poly friends are awesome.
posted by Sauce Trough at 1:35 PM on October 24, 2010 [5 favorites]


Where's the slot for "I got this friend and neither one of us is remotely interested in a romantic relationship, but once in a blue moon we bang"?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:37 PM on October 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


Thats called having really good friends.
posted by The Whelk at 1:39 PM on October 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


The author of this is actually a well-known poly/BDSM guy.

There's an enormous time and financial investment, jawdropping stress and exasperation over tiny, tiny details, massive drama over the misunderstanding of completely artificial rules and a complete inability to find someone interested in it outside of the community.


Heh.

I don't know about the financial investment, though. It seems to be a relatively cheap form of entertainment.
posted by the young rope-rider at 1:52 PM on October 24, 2010


"Where's the slot for "I got this friend and neither one of us is remotely interested in a romantic relationship, but once in a blue moon we bang"?"

"Friend" unless the banging is relevant to the anecdote at which point "friend with benefits" is the accepted nomenclature.
posted by the young rope-rider at 1:54 PM on October 24, 2010


Prima facie, complexity/simplicity/workability is not inherent in any type or arrangement of human-human(s) relationship.

I disagree. I believe that the more people you get involved, you have an inherently larger chance of complications arising. They may not, but the chance is higher simply because there are more actors and therefore more possible surface area for clashes.


Ok, that's a fair point. Though that does depend somewhat on all players being equal (in the scientific sense). All I was really trying to say was the obvious: that the scope of human nature is enormous, and that it's possible to have elegance, love, fulfillment, companionship, etc. without tremendous complexities in a wide variety of relationship types. As has been pointed out above many times, if you are wont to wander sexually, then often it is in fact simpler and less-complex to build that honestly into your relationship, rather then sow deceit, bitterness, resentment etc. by cheating, lying and pretending your relationship is something that it is not and portend to value something that, in action, you do not.

But I am of course not saying that this means that monogamy can't be beautiful and simple either. Certainly if one values monogamy in their relationship, and each partner actively practices monogamy, and it forms a founding and integral component of the relationship, as it does for zillions of people, then that's fantastic and there's nothing wrong with that. My parents are a prime example. I really wasn't trying to make a value judgment.

I'm glad you're glad and happy to be in your skin, but please don't assume you know how the other side lives.

Who said I was happy to be in my skin? My relationship and my partner are fantastic, but it's certainly not always a walk in the park. Like I said above, not making any value judgments. Just irritated with the 'alt relationships so much work lol amirite?' stuff.

and wtf do i know about this shit anyway i'm 25.
posted by Lutoslawski at 1:56 PM on October 24, 2010


I do think it would be better if, instead of a map of polyamorous sex this was just a map of sexual relationships and included monogamy and celibacy and their many expressions too. Monogamy isn't so boring that it would be a trivial upgrade, but some forms of monogamy are very obviously special cases of things on the map. (Surely "You're my sub and I forbid you to have sex with anyone else" belongs on there somewhere.)
posted by localroger at 1:57 PM on October 24, 2010


The author of this is actually a well-known poly/BDSM guy.

Well I guess that explains the size of the BDSM continent on that map. It just strikes me as being a bit specialized, what with being a monogamous BDSM type person myself.
posted by localroger at 2:02 PM on October 24, 2010


emjaybee, while my tendency is to agree with you even that is a fairly modern attitude.

Well, my presumption was that this chart was talking about modern relationship possibilities, and I don't really see any signs that we're not. And among societies that have illegalized slavery, then actions like, say, marrying off your 12 year old are both illegal and considered morally outrageous by the rest of society. And even for older women in cult settings, it's clear that their ability to make a "choice" is somewhat suspect when lack of access to transportation or communication with the outside world and threats of violence to her or her children are often used to keep her in line. Leaving an abusive culture is a huge undertaking: all you have to do is read the accounts of women who did so.

And secondly, our knowledge of human relationships in history is limited to that small percentage that a) happens to be written down and b) happens to discuss such issues. We don't actually know how pre-historical humans set up their romantic relationships.
posted by emjaybee at 2:15 PM on October 24, 2010


And the old joke goes ... " I couldn't get into S&M cause I couldn't get into all that talking."
posted by The Whelk at 2:16 PM on October 24, 2010


Oh hey, mystical post convergence
posted by The Whelk at 2:21 PM on October 24, 2010


However, I feel like arguing that cheating is proof that monogamy doesn't work is like saying stealing is proof that capitalism doesn't work.

It's more like saying that the massive income gaps in capitalist economies is proof that capitalism doesn't work.
posted by Pope Guilty at 2:25 PM on October 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


I don't think it's really very much like that.
posted by enn at 2:31 PM on October 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


Actually, emjaybee, the Romans wrote quite a bit more about their romantic relationships than they ever did about, for example, their hydraulic engineering. They're hardly "pre"-historical; they are if anything the very definition of historical.

The point I suppose I am circling around here is that if you want to disconnect sex from the obviously very artificial norm of monogamy, then you have to admit that there are a number of other equally artificial norms that are also attached to it, and we have multifarious examples of populations which have made those disconnects. Biologically sex and affection are only very loosely related, but our societal norms assume that they are very tightly bound. It is quite possible to have fantastic sex with someone you hate and to be unable to have satisfying sex with someone you deeply love. Most of the "complexity" comes from an inability to understand and deal with that.
posted by localroger at 3:07 PM on October 24, 2010


Wait. "Con sex" is a thing?

I am so sheltered. But I DO have a robe and a wizard hat...
posted by BitterOldPunk at 3:28 PM on October 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


Wait. "Con sex" is a thing?

Don't laugh, I hooked up into my now nearly 30 year monogamous relationship at a con. Of course, it was also the last con either of us ever attended.
posted by localroger at 3:37 PM on October 24, 2010


mccarty.tim writes "I think people should have exclusive friendships of each type, to prevent harmful friend-friend interactions. For example, you get one friend to go drinking with, one friend who you choose to be your best man at your wedding, one friend who you go to for advice, and one friend who you just kinda know so that you can get clients for work."

I've got an acquaintance like this. I'm in his bridge circle and I've never even met his BBQ friends, or movie friends or skiing friends, or swimming friends, or work friends or hiking friends, or TF group, etc. and as far as I'm aware there is no overlap of respective groups. He claims it's "friend efficient" but it's bloody weird.
posted by Mitheral at 3:48 PM on October 24, 2010


Wait. "Con sex" is a thing?

Dude, one of my formative sexual experiences was at a freaking REN FAIRE.

With a KNIGHT.
posted by The Whelk at 3:51 PM on October 24, 2010 [14 favorites]


...and that's why The Whelk was never allowed on the human chessboard again.
posted by griphus at 4:03 PM on October 24, 2010 [33 favorites]


I like this thing. I'm not just saying that because I went to one of those parties last night where this entire chart is relevant.

Look, if you can't make monogamy work for you because you really want to boff others (or do stuff sexually that your one and only really doesn't), I'm all for being honest about it with people. Every time someone is all "poly doesn't work," well, mono doesn't always either. But cheating and lying doesn't work even more than the other two "don't work."

To each their own, consenting adults, etc.

I'm also really amused at "unicorn polyamory." Haven't seen that term before.
posted by jenfullmoon at 4:06 PM on October 24, 2010 [3 favorites]


When I saw this earlier today I thought for sure that someone would have also linked the Alternate Design by David McCandless of Information is Beautiful by now, but I guess no one did. Now I did.
posted by tmthyrss at 4:33 PM on October 24, 2010 [6 favorites]


tmthyrss: "When I saw this earlier today I thought for sure that someone would have also linked the Alternate Design by David McCandless of Information is Beautiful by now, but I guess no one did. Now I did"

Thanks for that. Good design can rarely be over-valued.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 4:42 PM on October 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm seeing "more designy", I'm not necessarily seeing good.
posted by Artw at 4:51 PM on October 24, 2010 [3 favorites]


Missing from this diagram: the place where polyamory and cheating actually intersect.

Real life example: "I've made it clear to both of the women I'm dating that openness and honesty is the key to avoiding jealousy in open relationships. We must all know about and approve of each other's relationships for this to work." Time passes; guy begins dating two other women without telling the first two; they find out, shit hits the fan. [Bonus: this guy was a poly-evangelist who had pressured the first two women into trying out the poly lifestyle, who constantly trash-talked monogamy, and who had actively tried to break up other people's monogomous/married relationships because he believed monogamy was inherently co-dependant and unhealthy. Neato burrito!]
posted by Marla Singer at 5:00 PM on October 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


jenfullmoon, what I dislike about the common poly formulation of why it's better than monogamy is the absolute assumption that monogamy inevitably leads to infidelity and lying. In my experience, this is not the case. I think it would be awesome if poly activists (or just folks talking about how good it is for them) would keep in mind how deeply insulting that assumption is.

I think that as with every other human pursuit there are some folks for whom extremes (of poly, monogamy, serial monogamy, abstinence, whatever) don't work and some for whom the extremes do work. Among those extremes exist folks who are non-serially monogamous all their lives and are honest and faithful and effective their whole lives at having a wonderful time. And there are also folks for whom that's a romantic fantasy that doesn't really exist (just like a unicorn!).

But if you are going to talk about your personal philosophy and contrast it to others', it would be respectful to assume at least that if it's working for someone, it's possible it's working for folks who are discussing this very same thread with you. And by inference, it would be respectful to, well, be respectful.
posted by kalessin at 5:04 PM on October 24, 2010 [3 favorites]


I'm new to MetaFilter. The fact that this includes Dragon*Con makes me feel like I've found my niche on the internets - hilarious!
posted by allmimsy at 6:58 PM on October 24, 2010


Such interesting terms.

I know a man who's in a trinogamous relationship; so that must be polifidelity.
posted by nickyskye at 8:21 PM on October 24, 2010


trinogamous=thrupple?
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 10:20 PM on October 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yup, nickyskye, that's polyfidelity, also known as a closed relationship (a closed triad in that case).

The loose equivalents to "couple" are triad, V, or quad.

Past that it's more common to hear network (sometimes intimate network), poly family, or depending on the BDSM involved, leather family.

A relationship doesn't have to be open to be polyamorous. I have been in a relationship that I considered closing but it would have still been polyamorous.
posted by the young rope-rider at 10:35 PM on October 24, 2010


Oh wow. That Information is Beautiful version is really, well, Beautiful.
posted by iamkimiam at 12:03 AM on October 25, 2010


device55: "And here's a map of monogamy:
O


Does that circle include serial monogamy, life long monogamy, divorce, remarriage after divorce, marriage, common law marriage, arranged marriages, live-in-life-partner, exclusive friends with benefits, and asexual relationships?

It would help to know the scale here
"

As long as it's a closed loop, sure! (i.e. not an 'x'.)

I guess I should have drawn it more like a series of circles...or even, tubes...

[/bad metaphors and even shittier puns]
posted by iamkimiam at 12:12 AM on October 25, 2010


We're going to have to deal with robosexuality in our lifetimes, and we're still having trouble with dudes with dudes and dude with girl with another dude.

Our species is going to spend so much time thinking about sex, not even in the fun way, but in the arguing about sex way, that we're not going to be able to get important stuff done. The aliens and robots will deserve to take over.
posted by mccarty.tim at 6:31 AM on October 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


And cockroaches! And why not? The have "cock" in their names. You know like my good cockroach friend Bob Cockarooni.
posted by kalessin at 7:53 AM on October 25, 2010


This reads more like a list of rationalizations than an informative chart.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 9:56 AM on October 25, 2010


I'm new to MetaFilter. The fact that this includes Dragon*Con makes me feel like I've found my niche on the internets - hilarious!

*waves*
posted by odinsdream at 1:13 PM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


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