"7 Poly Terms Everyone Should Know, Whether You're New To Polyamory Or Monogamous"
By KATHLEEN BURDO
During a recent trip to Seattle, my nesting partner and I were out at a bar on Capitol Hill and sang some (ridiculously awful) karaoke. Afterwards, a Hot Bi Babe came up to us and started flirting. While a guest star in the bedroom wasn't an option that evening, I was amused (and flattered!) at being reverse unicorn-hunted at a bar which was so perfectly named "the Unicorn." Giddy, I shared the experience with a few friends and was immediately asked: what’s a unicorn?
If you're a poly newb or more monogamously-oriented, there were probably a few phrases in that paragraph that you were unfamiliar with, too. It’s easy to get wrapped in our own little communities and forget that we have our own jargon. A lot of words commonly used in the poly community — f*ck buddy, FWB, co-habitate, life partner, LDR, etc — are more general and widely used, but we have a lot of really specific words, such as “compersion” and “nesting partner,” to describe all of the various ways poly relationships can look as well as the experiences poly folk have.
While the practice of polyamory isn't new, the identity and jargon surrounding those communities, and in many cases, the communities themselves, are much more recent, and because of that, these terms are constantly evolving and may mean different things within different poly communities. The definitions I used are the most common ones in both my local community and the online world of poly folk as well, but some there is still some disagreement around some of these words.
Whether you're new to the poly community, curious about ethical non-monogamy, or mono and just need some translations for when you're around your poly friends, here are seven terms you should know.
1. Ethical Non-Monogamy
The practice of engaging in multiple sexual and/or romantic relationships simultaneously with the consent and knowledge of all parties, as opposed to unethical non-monogamy, aka cheating. This is generally regarded as an umbrella term that includes polyamory, open relationships, swinging, solo poly, relationship anarchy, and poly-fi relationships, similar to how queer is the umbrella term that covers gay, lesbian, bisexual, pansexual, etc. Sometimes also called "consensual" or "responsible" non-monogamy.
2. Polyamory (Poly)
The practice of engaging in multiple romantic relationships simultaneously with the consent and knowledge of all parties. Poly means many, and amory means love, so this type of ethical non-monogamy usually focuses on having multiple loving relationships, which may or may not include sexual activity.
This is not to be confused with polygamy, like on Big Love, which is the practice of having multiple spouses and tends to be more gender normative/heteronormative and closely tied to religion. There are different ways to structure poly relationships, such as hierarchical versus non-hierarchical, open versus closed, and solo poly versus a more "relationship escalator" oriented approach.
Choosing to not use barrier protection during sex with a partner, usually with an agreement about safer sex with other people (and hopefully after appropriate STI testing). Mono folks fluid-bond, too, but I'd never heard the term before becoming part of the poly community. It's possible to fluid-bond with more than one person in poly relationships, it's just a bit more complicated. ...