Why Defining “Polyamory” IS Important

I found this draft of a post from February 2014, and while I wouldn’t ordinarily react to anything as old as that post, the draft was too good to toss away.

I don’t normally respond to other people’s blog posts, but I’ve seen a particular notion all over the place, so I am going to respond to the Polyamory Weekly post, Everyone is doing poly wrong and needs to die in a fire, that talks about it.

I have no issue with much of Cunning Minx’s post. Yes, it’s a bit much for anyone to say that someone else isn’t poly because that person’s relationships are structured differently than the speaker’s. Honestly, I haven’t ever encountered anyone who said that such a difference means the other person should “go to hell” or “die in a fire,” but apparently, they exist. I’m all for tolerance of diversity.

I have a problem with accepting absolutely anyone labeling a relationship as polyamorous when it doesn’t meet the basic definition of the word. It’s even in a dictionary now, remember? From the OED:
“Polyamory: the practice of engaging in multiple sexual relationships with the consent of all the people involved.”

We define words for a reason – so we know what the hell we all mean when we use them. Otherwise, we can’t communicate effectively.

Cheating and affairs do not fall under the umbrella of polyamory because they do not occur with the consent of all the people involved. Infidelity isn’t just another way to do polyamory. Yes, it’s non-monogamy, for sure. It isn’t ethical non-monogamy, though, and it isn’t polyamory.

Everyone does not get to choose their own label when those labels involve misusing perfectly reasonable words that have agreed-upon definitions. If qn open marriage involves multiple sexual relationships with the consent of all involved parties, you’re polyamorous. Yay! But if anyone involved is cheating rather than engaging in ethical non-monogamy, the relationship isn’t polyamorous.

This isn’t about a “one true way” – there are many ways to “do” polyamory, and while I may not agree with them, they are perfectly valid for other people. But this is a hill on which I will die: cheating and infidelity of any sort are not polyamory!

Cyn is Rick's wife, Katie's Mom, and Esther & Oliver's Mémé. She's also a professional geek, avid reader, fledgling coder, enthusiastic gamer (TTRPGs), occasional singer, and devoted stitcher.
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