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Poly Definitions

There are many unusual words used by Poly people and as far as we known there isn't a definitive dictionary. However here is a collection of definitions Bob Miller has collected from several places plus some of his own.

Poly Short for polyamorous, usually used as an adjective. A Poly relationship is a non- monogamous relationship. A Poly person is someone in, or at least interested in, a Poly relationship. See polyamory. (2)

Polyamory Literally, "many loves". A generic term for non-monogamy, with a heavy emphasis on honesty and responsibility. (2)

Polyfidelity Closed relationship involving more than two people. The members of a group marriage, for example, may limit their sexual/romantic involvement to members of the group. They could then be described as polyfidelitous. (2)

Polygamy Having more than one spouse. (2)

Polyandry Having more than one husband. (2)

Marriage Historically, a relationship between a male, a female and their families whose primary purpose is to raise offspring. Today many people use the word to describe a committed, loving relationship with or without children.

Group Marriage A marriage involving more than two people. Not recognized by the U.S. government or most major religions in western society. Many people do it anyway, often making legal agreements that function similarly to the legalities involved in a usual marriage. (2) Group marriages, just like couple marriages, may or may not be open to other partners. (1)

Family Historically, a group of people related through blood lines or marriage.

Intentional family Unrelated individuals who have joined together to establish a loving, caring family.

Expanded family Where three or more people choose to live as a family unit. This usually involves a commitment between each of the partners and decisions are usually made by mutual consent. The term expanded family is also used to describe the core family and their closest supporting friends/families/ lovers.i

Triad A relationship involving three people. (2)

Tribe A social group that has a strong sense of identity and may have a family arrangement as its core. (1)

Primary Relationship(s) The relationship(s) which is (are) the most important and typically involve a high degree of commitment, such as the relationship with a marriage partner. (2)

Secondary Relationship(s) Close, ongoing emotional and/or sexual relationship(s), but with a lesser degree of commitment than a primary relationship. (2)

Tertiary Relationship(s) Emotional and/or sexual relationship(s) with little, sporadic, or no ongoing involvement. (2)

Open Relationship or Open Marriage A non-monogamous relationship or marriage. (1) A relationship is open if there is an agreement among the members that it is acceptable to get sexually and/or romantically involved outside of the relationship. Specific rules within a relationship about such involvement are usually negotiated to best fit the people in the relationship. For instance, one or more members may want prior notification of any outside involvement by another member. (2)

Closed A relationship is closed if there is an agreement among the members not to get sexually and/or romantically involved with anyone outside the relationship. A monogamous relationship is a closed two- person relationship. (2)

Partner Short for "life partner". Gender-free, hetero-assumption-free term for someone with whom one is involved, usually in a primary relationship. (2)

Intimate Network A term describing the social web that results from having sexual relations with friends and lovers of yours and your partners and perhaps their friends and lovers, etc. (1)

Non-Monogamy The practice of creating intimate relationships that may include sexuality which do not require sexual exclusivity. As a result, there may or may not be more than one such relationship occurring at a time. (1)

Serial Monogamy The most common style of relating in the US today. The belief that a person should only have one lover at a time. This is belief is so strong that millions of people end perfectly good relationships in order to start another. (1)

Monogamy A closed two person hetro relationship, may be the result of an informed mutual agreement or from not understanding that there are viable options.

Sacred Sex The belief that sex is a spiritual event. This can take many forms from simply honoring sexuality as such, to the practice of Tantra, a sexual yoga. (1)

Safe Sex Also known as safer sex. Ways of being sexual while trying to minimize the odds of contracting STDs (sexually transmitted diseases), particularly AIDS. This is done by minimizing the exchange of bodily fluids (especially semen, vaginal secretions, and blood), usually by using latex barriers such as condoms and dental dams for intercourse and oral sex, and/or by limiting sexual practices to less risky ones (e.g. mutual masturbation). (2)

Sex Negative An adjective used to describe people who think of sexuality in general (and/or any sexuality different from their own) as dirty or distasteful. (2)

Sex Positive An adjective often used to describe people who are comfortable with their own sexuality and sexuality in general. (2)

Swinging The practice of having sex with others where the focus is primarily sexual. Often done in groups. Sex is an important part of the poly lifestyle and many are swingers as they have a sex positive bias and are open to all forms of responsible, consensual relating. (1) A sub-culture of people who enjoy being sexual with acquaintances and/or friends. This word seems to be a point of some contention. Many people happily self-identify as swingers, many others reject that in favor of "poly", which is more generic. Some self-identified Poly people associate "swinging" with sexist, indiscriminate, dishonest, and/or risky sexual behavior. The truth is probably that behavior like this probably does or doesn't happen no matter what the participants call themselves. (2)

(1) From Loving More web site
(2) From Bearpaw MacDonald's web site
All others from Bob Miller, Family Synergy
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