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The Journal Of The InnKeeper
Ranty Lessons by Joreth
4th-Mar-2010 12:26 am
Bad Computer!, anger
... and I also deserve the right to get pissed off when someone insults me and that person ought to feel the effects of pissing someone off.

There has been some discussion in several venues lately about primaries and secondaries in the poly community.   We did a Poly Weekly segment about it (coming out next week), it's been a discussion topic in several online and in-person discussions, tacit wrote a post about prescripting primary/secondary in order to create a delusion of control against change, and then RedPepper started a thread about it in the polyamory.com forums.

I had decided to rant about the primary/secondary issue because it kept coming up and I kept getting angry over it, but what sparked the *direction* of the following rant was the argument in the polyamory.com forums.   I've had a few run-ins with the members of the polyamory.com forum members, and this last one was the final one - I'm dropping my account the way I did when the old PolyMatchMaker forums had the same kind of people. I hear PMM has changed now, so I may re-sign up, at their request.

I've had it up to here with passive-aggressive and ego-centric behaviour.  I am sick to death of people who take every mother-fucking statement as a personal attack, whether it was directed at them or not, and whether the "attacker" even said whatever it was that got their panties in a bunch.  I am sick to death of getting into a discussion or debate on an important topic only to spend the next 8 fucking pages saying "I didn't say that, I said this and I was responding to [your quote here]".   And I am royally sick of moderators allowing people to be repeatedly insulting and offensive, as long as they say it with nice words, even after it has been repeatedly, politely pointed out that it was insulting, but when I'm fed up with being insulted, getting MY posts blocked because I didn't bother using nice words to express my frustration.

Sorry, but using cuss words is not the only way someone can make a "hostile and inflammatory attack".  I don't appreciate the way everyone else has to pacify and pander to a handful of the most vocal members because they get their feelings hurt everytime someone disagrees with them and they take it as a personal attack.  Being forced to defend myself every time I make a statement because someone thinks I was personally insulting *that person* is tiring and puts me on the defensive from the outset as I try to out-think how someone might possibly interpret something I said as "offensive" when I know damn well that I wasn't talking to or about whoever it is that will throw a hissy fit, or when I am talking to someone in particular but there's just no way to cushion the truth any more and still have it resemble the truth.  Especially when I and 2 or 3 others have already rephrased it as many ways as we can think of and people are still misinterpreting, or worse, outright saying the opposite.

I'm sick of people making generalizations like "all monogamous people are inherently selfish" and "a mono mind will read a book about polyamory and interpret its spirituality content differently than a poly mind" and "all women are bi and all men are straight" and "all men take flirting as a promise while all women naively take flirting not seriously", while those same exact people read a post that says "Poly people who make rules out of fear are insecure" and say "hey, not all people who make rules are insecure, you shouldn't generalize like that!"  And I'm fucking sick to the point of blind, spitting, rage of people saying that my relationships "don't count" because they're long-distance or not live-in or I wasn't there first, and that the primaries are more important than the secondaries, whomever they designate as "secondary" by whatever arbitrary limitations they place on relationships they're not in.

What strikes me most about this topic is that, over and over again, people don't seem to see any problem with saying "My life is more important than yours, therefore if we start dating, we require you to rearrange your life to suit our issues so that you make no meaningful impact on our lives.  We have it just as we like it and we don't need you coming in and messing that up, so we're going to limit your impact."   People continue to justify treating their future partners like threats, like criminals guilty until proven innocent, like dating is an adversarial relationship and all efforts must be made to preserve the status quo at all costs.  The new guy is the enemy and we have to protect the primary relationship against possible and unknown CHANGE, whether we know if that change will be good or not.  

"We want to have a relationship with you, but we don't want to, y'know, CHANGE anything about our lives to accomodate that new relationship.  Our lives should look exactly the same as it does now, except we get sex from you and we get to say we're dating you (but only when we want to say it, you're not allowed to decide when we say it). You do all the changing to make sure our lives stay exactly the same while still giving us sex and dating privileges with you."

And I have a BIG problem with that.  Why the fuck are you getting involved in any way with someone you view as a threat to your existing life?

Like non-religious folk for centuries, poly people who find themselves as "secondaries" (i.e. second-class citizens) to these selfish, self-centered, ego-centric, solipsistic assholes have been saying politely "um, y'know, I'd kinda like to have a say in my own relationship here, but since this whole relationship is new, I'm not going to insist that I be treated like a human being with equal rights because that might cause you to dump me".  OK, the non-religious or other-religious folk have been saying "uh, look, I have rights too, but I'll sit quietly over here, not demanding my rights, because you might kill me."  But the point is still the same. Things don't get changed when only one side is being polite and the other side goes on happily tromping all over the other side's life, liberty, and dignity.

So I'm not going to be polite.  In this post, I'm going to get angry.  I'm going to get emotional, raging angry.  I'm going to cuss and I'm going to be mean.  I'm going to call names.  I'm going to talk in the second person because it more effectively illustrates my anger, so if you don't personally do this (even though you're in a pre-existing couple or you use the words "primary" and "secondary), then assume I'm not talking about you. If you don't do this, pretend you came across a letter to someone else because I don't want to hear "I do primary/secondary but I don't do it like this".

I don't fucking care.  If you don't do this, I'm not talking to you (but it might benefit you to be more aware of how other people might perceive you).  If you *do* do this but are in denial, the last thing I want to hear is your justification and rationalization for why it's *different* when you fuck someone over.

I think you people need to hear just how insulting, just how offensive, just how HURTFUL you are to the people you date.   Too many people who become secondaries are not allowed to get upset or angry, or if they do, it's after you've already dumped their ass and you don't see it.   If you do happen to get a glimpse, you get all self-righteous and defensive, saying that the other person just didn't respect your relationship. Well why should they? You don't respect them!

So I'm going to show you what your actions do to other human beings.  I'm going to lash out like the secondaries you treat like non-people aren't allowed to.  I'm going to attempt to hurt you with my words the way you've hurt them and the way they aren't allowed to hurt you.   I'm going to show you the hurt feelings, the rage, and the emotional tantrum THAT YOU CAUSED with your insensitivity and lack of empathy because I think you need to see.  Because those people you hurt are unlikely to show you themselves, and because those who have been burned by you and others like you are afraid to speak up publicly because we have to be polite and respectful of your oh-so-special primary-bond, because there isn't "One True Way" so no one is allowed to say "you're doing it wrong!"

Maybe if you had to suffer through the fallout of your actions, you people would be a little more sensitive and think about your partners a little more and yourself a little less.  Since you're already partnered & looking for those single polys whose lives are unimportant enough to be absorbed into yours, you won't ever feel what it's like to be in this position, so I'm going to yell and scream the way these secondaries can't ever do themselves in the hopes that SOMEONE will look at this and say "I never realized I hurt another human being so badly."  Ya'll seriously need a Breakfast Club detention session where you have to come face to face with the people you're hurting and SEE their pain.

Of course, the ability to accept that we contributed to another's pain is a sign of true maturity, and those who treat secondaries like this are still stuck in the kindergarten-phase of life, where the world revolves around them and everyone else's feelings are incidental, if noticed at all, so I'll be shocked if I actually achieve my goal.  Oh well, at least shouting makes me feel better, since I can't actually knock you people upside the heads to beat some sense into you.  Believe me, if that method showed any evidence of working, you'd all see what kind of physical temper I traded for this verbal temper I now express online.

So, in the polyamory.com thread started by RedPepper, she and others have expressed (there and in other threads) the idea that there is nothing wrong with a pre-existing couple pre-scripting their future (read: not-yet-existing with people not-yet-met) relationships in order to protect their existing structure.  Several people tried in mostly polite words to explain that this doesn't take into account the fact that the new person is, in fact, a person, with needs and rights of their own and, at the very least, deserve a say in negotiating their own relationship.

It was also said SEVERAL TIMES that this is not the same thing as making someone an automatic equal partner on the same level as a spouse starting on the first date.  As usual, the opposition seems to have failed reading comprehension in high school, because more than once, the response was "I shouldn't give my new partner the same rights as my spouse".


No one has now or ever said "when you go on a first date with someone, that person is now the equivalent of your spouse and has equal say in parenting, financial, physical, and emotional issues in your life."  That's a strawman argument, which is a logical fallacy, which means SHUT THE FUCK UP.

What is being said is that the new person should not be given a handbook with their relationship description, their rights and benefits, as though it were a company handbook and he has just been hired for the position of "new secondary".  What is being said is that it is reasonable for the member of the existing family and the new partner to sit down together and NEGOTIATE the rules and/or boundaries of their relationship TOGETHER.  What is being said is that the new partner gets to say "uh, I don't think that clause is very fair, I'd like to discuss it" or "I have a few non-negotiable clauses of my own".

What is being said is that the new person has financial obligations, familial obligations, a job, a home, a social life, friends, family, maybe even children and existing partners, that are JUST AS IMPORTANT as those belonging to the couple making all the rules.  Just because the new partner is single does't mean that it is easier (or fair) for the new person to give everything up to merge into the new family than it would be for the existing couple.

RELATIONSHIPS SHOULD NOT BE ADVERSARIAL.  When an existing couple begins a relationship with a new partner, whether it's together, or just one member, you are not absorbing the new person into your family.  YOU ARE BUILDING A WHOLE NEW FAMILY.

Expecting that just because someone is single, that it is easier for them to do all the changing and accomodating to suit the couple they're getting involved with, is unfair and not based in reality.  Single poly people have all the same goddamn obligations as partnered polys, only we have to do it all by ourselves with no help and no safety net, no one to support us if we pick up and move across the country to join you, no one to share the financial burden, no one to take over or help with the care of our ailing parents, no one to watch our kids when we go on a date with you, no additional income to make up for that vacation time we took to go on YOUR family vacation, and no one to support us when you do something to hurt our feelings.  We have to do this all by ourselves.  When you're feeling alone or neglected, you get to call your partner home, but since we're not allowed to make demands or requests, and we have no one else, we have to deal with our bad days at work, our financial stress, our hormones, our illnesses, and even our celebrations by ourselves.  Accommodating the two or more of you can be MUCH harder than a group of you making some accommodation for one of me.

And, on top of that, we're met with suspicion by you or your spouses, treated as though we're on probation while several sets of eyes watch us for any moves that could be interpreted as too pushy, too forward, trying to take over, trying to "steal" you, trying to move in too quickly, or not moving quickly enough if we resist some of the changes you insist we make for you.  You insist that we respect your relationship while you do not respect our existing relationships, our future relationships, or our current singlehood.  It feels like living in a fucking Police song ("Every Move You Make, I'll Be Watching You") or a police state.  

All the while, we're being constantly reminded that YOU already have what we're trying to build, and that you think we'll never measure up, that we're not good enough, that we don't deserve to be treated fairly.   Sometimes we're not even allowed in your house, our PDA is curtailed, our every action is scripted before we come on the scene, the names we're allowed to call you, the places we're allowed to go, the bed we're allowed to make love in, the amount of time we're allowed to spend with you, all written without our input.  Those of you who started out your coupleship as monogamous, you got to experience NRE with no outside restrictions and you got to build your relationship naturally.  We have our NRE pre-written for us and we have to pay attention to our NRE and curb our expression of our NRE to prevent you from feeling left out.  We do not get to experience the full joys of a relationship the way you did because you didn't have someone standing over your shoulder like we do, telling you how you're allowed to love someone.

If I wanted a fucking parent, I'd have stayed back home.  Hell, even my parents let me negotiate what time my curfew was.   The fact that you are giving me one now that I'm an adult and dating another adult is ludicrous.   Back the fuck off and let me fuck up first before you punish me for it.  You're acting like an overprotective parent or a jealous mother-in-law.

So, while people were trying to politely get these points across (even I started out relatively nice), the most predictable objection EVER got thrown in: "What about the children? Won't somebody please overprotect the children?"

This is used to justify all those slights and offenses, as though simply saying "I have children" is an excuse for treating another adult like a pariah.

Three points that I will address next:

1) Not everyone who behaves in this fashion has children, so the Kid Defense is a cop-out
2) Some single polys and new-partner polys have kids too
3) Non-parents aren't clueless or heartless about other people's kids

1) Stop trotting out the Kid Defense every time someone says "Please treat me respectfully".  This is not about your children, this is about how you treat other adults.

Every fucking time this subject comes up, those on my side of the argument get sidetracked trying to explain why we are not talking about making the new guy an equal fucking partner to your spouse.  "I deserve an equal say in my relationship" IS NOT THE SAME THING as "I deserve to be an equal member of your household."


I think that giving a new partner's needs the same weight right off the bat is cruel to those already involved in the relationship. I would never presume that someone that I have just started dating make their schedule fit my own. I have not earned that level of consideration. As things develop and you become more important to one another that may change (or it may never change). But I think those already invested in the relationship can and should have more of a say in how anyone new added to the dynamic will fit it.

You clearly have a reading comprehension problem, since I explicitly said, more than once, that a new partner does not get the exact same rights as the existing partner. I said that they get to have the same right TO BE HEARD and to have a say in the relationship.

OF COURSE a brand new partner doesn't get to change your schedule, and changing their own schedule for you at the beginning might be premature. But when you're making up the rules for which days of the week your future partner gets to see you, that future partner deserves the right to negotiate what those days are according to HIS needs and schedule. This is the same for monogamous people dating as it is for poly people.

This is absolutely not the same thing as giving some guy you went on a single date with access to your Google Calendar or checking account.

Stop treating your future partners under the "guilty until proven innocent" theory. If you think they're bad people who will take advantage of you, don't date them. Your future partners do not generally approve of being assumed to be bad people who must be held carefully in check to prove their goodness.

As I said earlier in the forum thread, when two monogamous people begin dating, they do not exchange checking account numbers on the first date.  Most reasonable adults do not bring a guy home at the end of the night, wake up the kiddies and say "Billy, Suzy, meet your new daddy! You will listen to him exactly as you listen to me."  A relationship needs time to grow, to see which direction it even wants to grow in. Many specific privileges are granted only with a certain level of intimacy.

But monogamous people ALSO do not go on a first date with a 40 page contract spelling out what level of intimacy they're allowed to achieve, what pet names they're allowed to be called, on which numbered date they're allowed to have sex, and in which rooms, all of which has been determined by more than one person, none of whom are the new date (that's not a strawman, that's an anecdote - someone actually published a 40-page contract on their website, including which pet names new partners are allowed to use. If they hadn't taken down the document, I'd post a link).  Those things are determined over time as the individuals learn what their relationship wants to be.   Single parents who date manage to figure out how to introduce a new partner to their family just fine without writing up the path of the relationship beforehand.

What they do is get to know each other.  Then maybe they talk about how they think their relationship is going.  Through the course of their relationship, they discuss their dreams and goals, and they see how they fit together.  Anyone who has ever dated a "momma's boy" or girl with an overprotective father knows how frustrating it is to have a third party looking over your shoulder and deciding for you the course of your relationship.  And anyone who has ever eloped or snuck out in the middle of the night, or skipped class to have sex knows just how realistic those rules are when the participants are head-over-heels "in love" and the rules no longer make sense or hold any power over them.  The day we, as children, realize our parents only have the power over us that we give them is the day their control over us ends.  The day we, as adults, realize that our spouses' rules are only effective for as long as we want to follow them is the day the "rules" no longer dictate our behaviour, and it is our individual choice to behave respectfully and lovingly that controls whether or not we behave respectfully and lovingly.   Our partners have no control over our behaviour.   We choose to behave in certain manners, and if anyone ever decides they don't want to behave that way anymore, having a "rule" will not stop them.

If your new partner or metamour wants to behave respectfully, they will not need a "rule" telling them to do so.  If they do not want to behave respectfully, your "rule" will not prevent them from being disrespectful, because (get this!) they're disrespectful!

So don't treat your spouse and his new girlfriend as if you were their mother trying to keep teenagers in check before they get into trouble.   If your adult partner needs to be watched like a child for his or her own good, then you really ought not to be doing polyamory, or any relationship with that person, for that matter.

The people who are actually in the relationship being negotiated are the ones who should make up the bulk of the negotiation process.  OF COURSE the other pre-existing partner can express his or her concerns, and should discuss them directly with both the partner and the new person. Group discussions are recommended.   So quit going to extremes, quit pulling out the strawmen, because it's becoming a fire hazard in here.   Just as we're not abdicating full and equal household rule for the new guy, we're also not abdicating pushing aside the feelings and concerns of the non-participating pre-existing partner or other family members. Everyone affected should get a say, and that includes the new partner!  But the ones who are actually in the relationship should have the most say, and should have an equal say to each other.

I will repeat, because apparently the 50,000 times I've said it before didn't get heard:

THIS DOES NOT MEAN THE NEW GUY IS EQUAL TO YOUR SPOUSE IN YOUR LIFE DECISIONS.   It means the new guy is an equal partner IN HIS OWN FUCKING RELATIONSHIP.  If the new guy and the wife have a "secondary" relationship, that means that they are BOTH "secondary" to each other and have the same rights and privileges AS each other TO each other.  If he's not allowed to make demands on your time anytime he wants, NEITHER ARE YOU.

Or, instead of writing up prohibitive permissions, you could negotiate welcoming guidelines instead and, y'know, behave as though you all WANT this relationship.

2) If you have kids AND a spouse (or two), how fucking arrogant is it of you to think that your kids and your family deserve more respect and more protection-from-change-masquerading-as-stability than the single poly parent?   As a single parent, it's fucking HARDER to provide that level of stability and protection without a spouse to help, poly or not.  I repeat what I said above, the single poly is not a potential job applicant for joining your corporation family. You are creating a new family.  And just like single monogamous parents, each side should have equal negotiating status.

Do you understand that we're saying the new partner, and the person with existing partners that the new partner is dating, should be equal TO EACH OTHER in the negotiation process, not that the new partner should be given equal relationship status to the existing partners?  For the existing partners who are insisting on this prescription method for their partners & metamours:  IT'S NOT ABOUT YOU.   Quit being so narcissistic and making everything about YOU.  This relationship is between your spouse and his new girlfriend.   Yes, you ALSO have a metamour relationship with the new girlfriend, and that should be negotiated between you and her.   But your spouse and his relationship with the girlfriend is between THEM.   It is NOT between you and your spouse.  It is not a reflection of his relationship with you, nor is it the two of you crafting a relationship that he can have where she is merely a feature in the arrangement, as opposed to a partner in it, like negotiating with your spouse how much time he can spend on his new hobby.  The hobby doesn't care.  The new girlfriend does.

And now onto the part that got me blocked in the polyamory.com forums...

3) "If the new partner doesn't have kids, the new partner isn't in a position to really understand what goes into raising children."

FUCK. YOU. Fuck you with a razor-sharp, red-hot poker in the eyeball, repeatedly, you insensitive, callous, selfish prick.

What's that? Think I'm paraphrasing? Misinterpreting? They couldn't have said that, I must be reading too much into it?

Here's my actual post that got blocked (that you won't see if you follow the link to the thread above), including the quotes I responded to (make note here that the statement I quoted was not the first time that sentiment was uttered, it was merely the final time that pushed me over the edge and into anger, and the previous statements were equally as clearly stated):

Originally Posted by Derbylicious
until you have a child it's hard to truly get that this little person's needs come before anyone else's (including your own).

Oh, I'm sure the people who have nieces and nephews, committed teachers, foster parents, medical staff, adult-children caring for ailing parents, older siblings caring for younger siblings when the parents fail or die, step parents, and adopted parents will be glad to know that their feelings for children don't really count.  Because unless they've had their own, they don't really know what it's like to put someone else's needs before theirs.

As I've said before, I helped raise my nephew.  Even if I hadn't, I have to say "fuck you" for telling me that I can't possibly know the feeling that someone else's needs come before my own.  How dare you tell me what I think and feel?  Where do you get off presuming to know what someone else feels?  It sounds more like YOU lack the empathy and foresight and assume everyone else is that self-concerned.

The whole damn reason I put off having children is because I get that children's needs come first and I was not in a position to care for them properly.

Considering how many people have children by "accident", I'd venture to say that I understand this concept better than many young parents.  People who think having a child will be "fun", will give them someone to "love me forever", people who make the decision to have children after they're already pregnant, not speaking to the father, without higher education or a job that makes more than minimum wage, these people do not understand the responsibility a child is, and will learn the hard way at the expense of the child.

Breeding does not make one an expert at children, nor does it automatically create those feelings by magic.  In fact, an awful lot of women suffer from PPD and have feelings of resentment towards their children, some women have it so severely that they neglect their children and a handful actively try to kill them.  It takes more than incubating fetuses to make a "good" parent.

All of us are around children at some point in our lives.  Some of us had children who have grown.  Some of us had children and lost them.  Some of us currently have children but are sharing custody.  Some of us work with children. some of us studied or trained in subjects like child psychology or medicine or daycare.   Some of us desperately wish to have children and are only waiting for the right circumstances.  Some of us helped raise other people's children.  And some of us are just empathetic enough to see what other people go through when they raise children.   Most of *those* of us who are child-free are without children precisely BECAUSE we know EXACTLY how much work goes into raising children and we choose not to.

How many new parents actually spent years thinking and planning and discussing exactly the reasons for and against having children?  Some, sure, but many didn't.  However, people who are intentionally child-free HAVE.  That's the "intentional" part.  We've thought about it.  Many of us have agonized over that decision, weighing the options, REALLY considering what goes into being a parent and making the conscious decision that we do not have some important element required for raising children and so, FOR THE CHILDREN'S SAKE, we do not have them.  How many parents actually said "We have decided to have children for the children's own sake"?  No, all of them want children for the sake of the adults, and the responsible parents at least thought about how to make it mutually beneficial by providing for those humans that did not get a vote on whether or not they were brought into the world.   How many parents have had to defend their reasons for having children against a hostile society that thinks nothing about having "accidents" as long as you don't get an abortion, but consideres carefully, thought-out reasons against children as "selfish"?

And regardless of who has kids and who doesn't, most people who have ever felt love for either a romantic partner or a family member, knows about putting someone else's needs or life before our own.  Many people make the same kinds of sacrifices for their elderly parents.  Many people end up raising their younger siblings either because of absent parents or incompetent parents.   One of the *reasons* so many poly people are poly is because we feel a strong sense of family, and family obligation, and what we're trying to create is a FAMILY.

I don't need to have had my own children to have seen what my sister gave up when she got pregnant, to see the changes in the decisions she made for her life in order to accomodate her child.   I don't need to have had my own children to KNOW the feeling of "I'd give up everything to help this person if they needed me".  I have family and I have loved ones.  Maybe YOU don't love your family as much as I do.  I've seen my mom's family shuttle around my maternal grandmother from sibling to sibling as a burden that none of them are willing or able to take on because they've built their "own life" and they don't accommodate change.  It's apalling. Yet *I* am the one accused of not understanding the commitment and obligation caring for another human requires.

You people with your prescripted rules are thinking only of yourself.   You are not considering the new partner as another person, you're thinking only about what he can do for or to you, not what you can or should do for him.  What do you have to offer?  Why should anyone care about or respect your primary relationship when you don't give a fuck about anyone else's obligations, responsibilities, or life?  You don't consider my life as important as yours, so why should I place any priority on you?   You don't think I'm capable of being considerate of you or your family because my current family doesn't look like yours, and you make rules to try to MAKE me be considerate of you.   You don't think I can possibly understand that you have obligations, responsibilities, that I don't get that children need care and stability in their lives!

You can't find a hot bi babe to be your special third to complete your family?   It's not because there aren't any hot bi poly babes out there, it's because you are not worth the time, energy, or emotion they will lose chasing after a relationship that they were not consulted on before being offered it.   It's because you're a selfish, egotistical, myopic asshole and anyone with any decent amount of relationship skills knows better than to get involved with you, so you're only left with the bi-curious, the "just trying it out", and the cowboys because they're just as selfish as you are and don't give a fuck about all your rules because they'll do just what they want to do whether you approve or not, or they're "too naive" to know better & will get their heart broken when they struggle with all your rules that they don't understand and the disrespect and lack of consideration for them.

Don't you DARE tell me how I feel.  Don't you dare accuse me of not respecting or understanding that you have responsibilities when you clearly don't respect or understand that I have responsibilities.  And don't you fucking dare treat me like a naughty child or a criminal on probation by dictating to me how my relationship with you will go.   I am a partner in my relationships, not servant, subordinate, or employee.  You will get exactly the same amount of respect and consideration for your feelings, family, and life as you give to mine.

And right now, with your attitude and rules and willful ignorance and selfishness, that's exactly zero.

4th-Mar-2010 07:27 am (UTC)
Dear Joreth,

You have received an infraction at Polyamory.com Forum.

Reason: Flaming

Your post in the primary/secondary link thread has been marked for moderation and removal for flaming.

The reason for the removal is the post has been determined to be a hostile and inflammatory attack against another member.

In particular for the following extract:
Originally Posted by Joreth
As I've said before, I helped raise my nephew. Even if I hadn't, I have to say "fuck you" for telling me that I can't possibly know the feeling that someone else's needs come before my own. How dare you tell me what I think and feel? Where do you get off presuming to know what someone else feels? It sounds more like YOU lack the empathy and foresight and assume everyone else is that self-concerned.

I'll refer you to the following passage from the User Guidelines:

Originally Posted by User Guidelines
Our site founder, Olivier, founded the boards for the purpose of creating a community where people help, respect, and care for each other. Polyamory.com is intended to be home to an upbeat, caring community, where poly folk can come for friendly discussion, support from peers, and a bit of TLC.

Our objective on the board is pretty clear. You are more than welcome to participate and discuss ideas, your thoughts, and contribute to the community, as are the other members with whom you interact. As such we'll not abide behavior that creates a hostile atmosphere or makes other members feel unwelcome, belittled or insulted.

You have been warned in the past for similar behavior.
As such, I am issuing a 6-pt Infraction for Flaming & Creating a Hostile Atmosphere.

This is half the allowable amount for infraction points, and will result in the staff asking you to leave the board if this occurs again.

This infraction is also a warning that is not limited to direct cases of flaming, but also other behaviors such as running roughshod over other discussions or argumentum ad nauseam.

Simply put, contribute to the community in a positive manner, or you will be asked to leave.

I recommend you review the Site Guidelines, with particular emphasis on the mission statements of the first part, and check your behavior accordingly in the future.

Please don't hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.

Thank-you for your cooperation.

4th-Mar-2010 02:28 pm (UTC) - Hazardous Waste
This is YGirl, and I'm the one who first marked your post for moderation, as well as few posts from other users.

I read some of your Twitter posts, and the one where it says that you were told "this phrase is offensive" 4 times before you said "fuck you" raises some concerns. I'm not sure which "4 times" you are referring to, but perhaps this http://www.polyamory.com/forum/showpost.php?p=23269&postcount=25 is one of them, and if so, you failed to notice that I was referring to what Derbylicious said. I don't know if you even read what I wrote, but essentially I said the same thing you said without saying "fuck you".

It is obvious to me, especially now that you have said so to Imaginary Illusion, that your only purpose for participating in the polyamory.com forum was to stir up discord and create friction. I hope you feel that you have been successful. I am a little disappointed though because up until this last time, I used to enjoy your posts and looked forward to them. I have usually agreed with the things you've said and shared in the frustration when other people don't get it. I now realize that this sentiment was not mutual. Pfeh.

I want to thank you for making your true intentions toward the forum known. It reaffirms my original decision to lock that thread and send the posts to the queue, and it elevates my skepticism regarding people's true motivations for doing things in any context.

I suspect that this post may not make it past YOUR moderation queue, and that is ok with me.

Have a day.
4th-Mar-2010 05:39 pm (UTC) - Re: Hazardous Waste
Actually, what I meant on twitter was that we told the forums that "unless you have children, you can't know how important they are" was insulting 4 times (the first time, seinneann_ceoil used the word "offensive", rather than insulting), and after saying that was insulting 4 times, when I said "fuck you" for insulting me, I was the one who got blocked.

I see you are just as likely as the other forum members for deciding what other people think and feel. My purpose for participating in the forums is to talk about polyamory, same as everyone else. It just so happens that so many members at polyamory.com are full of their own self-importance. I was arguing on your side, as we usually do in those forums. As usual, people are reading themselves in my words when I'm not talking about them, only this time it's someone who I thought was better than that.
4th-Mar-2010 05:48 pm (UTC) - Re: Hazardous Waste
Explain to me, please, from your position as a moderator, how telling someone else the right way to feel, or how they should feel, or how they DO feel, is not offensive. Or that if they don't have children they can't possibly understand. Etc.

How does that work, exactly?
4th-Mar-2010 06:01 pm (UTC) - Re: Hazardous Waste
I will say, in Ygirl's defense, that she was on that same side in the argument - she agreed that saying only people with children could understand was offensive.

And yet, none of the people who insisted on saying what was already pointed out as insulting were blocked. I was chosen to be blocked because I am not polite when someone else insults me.

That this is not the first time I was blocked for saying "quit insulting me" is indicative of the kind of moderation that happens at these forums. People are allowed to be insulting, for as long and as often as they want, as long as it's not overt or uses angry language. People are protected from ever seeing that the people they're insulting are getting angry, because the penalty is for the people who get angry at poor treatment, not the people who are initiating the poor treatment.
4th-Mar-2010 03:33 pm (UTC)
First of all...
::applause coupled with standing ovation::

Come hang out at Poly Percolations. :) We have cookies (and it's by far my favorite place on the web, secondary only to my primary relationship with livejournal). :)

(who is currently trying NOT to snicker too loud at her ex-husband who seems to take an unnatural delight in arguing with tacit on fetlife...which I find just hilarious, when I'm not reattaching my tongue from chewing it off trying not to engage...)
4th-Mar-2010 06:45 pm (UTC)
Well, I signed up there to check it out. It was brought to my attention that sarcasm is included in the definition of a flame, so if that's actually moderated, I'll get kicked out of there too.
4th-Mar-2010 03:37 pm (UTC)
Wow. Just... wow. It looks like the people you were talking to on the message board didn't care to understand what you were saying, so would make up arguments to throw at you. It also looks like the moderators took sides there. Doesn't look like a community worth being in, imo.
4th-Mar-2010 04:20 pm (UTC)
I don't blame you for quitting, I'd have been seeing red and spitting nails at that point, too.

(I think that my boyfriend is just as principled and ethical and acted with as much forethought when he decided to be childfree and took surgical steps to ensure that, as my partners who decided, after being together for many years, to intentionally try for a pregnancy together and who are now raising a child who I adore. I can't understand the mindset of people saying that the CF are "selfish" or that they "just don't understand" what it's like to raise children -- often, they DO, and that's why they've chosen not to!!)

*applause* I endorse this rant. And this is one reason I choose not to play the primary-secondary game -- I have had lower-key FWB relationships in the past (although never ones with any level of strict rules, that's just where the relationship naturally fell out given the level of emotional intensity/availability/etc.), but I have never chosen to treat someone as a "secondary," or to bring in a new partner with a list of strict prescriptions as to their future role.

My main "rules" all have to do with sexual health, and while they may be more restrictive than some (because I'm immune-compromised, I have to be very careful about being exposed to HSV in particular -- while it might be "not a big deal" for some people, it could actually kill me), it's totally up to any new partner/any partner's new partner whether they choose to join our configuration knowing that it would limit their behavior (because we're looking to remain a closed system, we're not open to partners who are interested in being sexual with untested people -- i.e., if J decided to date a woman who already had a boyfriend, and she and the boyfriend were willing to be tested and to agree not to take on any new sexual partners without consultation and testing, that would be fine -- but if said woman wanted to "play the field," it just would be too much of a risk factor.)

That's a really specific situation based on a fairly unusual health risk, though -- before I found out the extent of my health issues and risk profile, I was a bit more relaxed about this stuff (although sexual health has always been a priority for me, and I prefer closed systems to open ones -- doesn't mean everybody has to be involved with everybody else, though, or even close to it!!)

Oh, and people who think they can *tell* you whether *YOUR* relationships are "primary" based on *their* standards can fuck right off. I've gotten that, too -- "Oh, you don't live with them? So you're their secondary, and they're yours?" NO, THAT IS NOT THE FUCKING CASE, THANK YOU!!

-- A <3
4th-Mar-2010 06:24 pm (UTC)
I completely agree with this rant. Both parts, the parts about polyamory and the parts about the forum. I've found what you've experienced to be a common problem with feel good type forums. That always seems to be a codeword for "agree with how we interpret things or you'll be B&". I'm very glad I hadn't gotten introduced to the poly community through forums like that. I wouldn't have tolerated for very long the sanctimonious, holier-than-thou attitudes. Good on you for managing to hold back on dropping a "fuck you" for so long ;-)

My attitudes about poly seem to be very much in line with what you've describe. As half of a married couple that is polyamorous, I certainly understand the fears that may drive that sort of primary/secondary. However I've never considered any of my or my wife's partners to be secondary. The relationships are what they are and, while they overlap and are influenced by, they are not defined by the existing relationship. My wife and I had a monogamous relationship for many years that grew and developed unimpeded to what it is today and it wouldn't be fair to impose some sort of primary/secondary rules to a new relationship out of fear. We want to see what these new relationships grow and develop into. That's part of the adventure!

At any rate, very nice rant!
4th-Mar-2010 06:51 pm (UTC)
It's like arguing with Creationists sometimes.

For instance, this particular thread continues, with the same people reiterating "but what about the children?" We've addressed that several times, by several people, in several ways.

And yet, in my post (in the personal blogs section) with a link here, I'm told that the problem MUST be with me since it keeps happening.

When every relationship you've ever had turns out to be "with a psycho", then yeah, the first place you should look is the common denominator - you. But it's an internet truism that many people just do not read the opposing argument and insist on repeating the same thing over and over again, even when their side has been addressed or they have been repeatedly told they're being insulting.

It's like when Atheists are called "militant" because they're now standing up and insisting on being given equal rights. For some reason, refusing to take someone else's shit is now "aggressive" or "militant", when those people have been shoveling it forever.
4th-Mar-2010 08:56 pm (UTC)
So, in a fit of temper, I deleted someone's comments instead of allowing them to be posted. In a more rational moment, I decided that was wrong and I should post them.

I want to be clear here that I'm fully aware that I'm throwing a temper tantrum. This is where I go to do that. I'm human and I have emotional outbursts.

And that's the problem. By singling out my reaction, I am being punished for having a reaction without anyone taking responsibility for the fact that it was a REaction - that there was something for me to react TO. For some reason, I am the one who is expected to remain polite and civil at all times, even in the face of insults, while those who do the insulting are not prevented, prohibited, discouraged, or punished for doing the insulting. Any emotional reaction is automatically bad, nevermind whether it was justified or not.

Anyway, here's the comment I deleted:

Joreth, if someone had said "fuck you" to you, I would have done the same thing. It has very little to do with "taking sides" and "squelching" posts. You chose to marginalize yourself by resorting to personal attacks rather than addressing what the other person said. The forum is moderated because the owner wants it that way. The terms of usage are free of charge and the moderators are not there to provide a "service" to members. I'm not going to explain the forum usage guidelines to you because they are up there for everyone to read. You are not the first or only person to have your post moderated. You ARE the first and only one to behave as though your entire life is being called into question because the phrase "fuck you" was deemed uncalled-for.

No, you know what? One of your LJ fans hit the nail on the head: The REAL reason I moderated your post is because I said to myself, "Joreth is full of shit. I disagree with what she has to say on this topic, so I'm gonna SHOW HER WHO IS BOSS and "squelch" her post." Yeah. That's why I did it. I thought that would teach you a lesson. For sure. I'm just so full of myself and on a power trip that I thought it would be fun to oppress someone for no reason at all. This is, after all, the only way I know how to have fun.

I fail to see how I'm dictating how you should think or feel. I read your reply to Imaginary illusion where you say you want to "bring people down a few pegs". Did you NOT say that to him? Please clarify that because if he is a liar then I will want to watch my back around him too.

You see, I'm being civil to you right now? See how that works? You don't seem to understand that the only issue was with the "fuck you" part, not with your position or the rest of the content of that message. I guess I'm just one of the many oppressive people that are preventing you from living your life to its fullest potential. Thank you for sparing me the trouble of getting to know you better.

S - if you want an unmoderated rant forum where you can say "fuck you" and many, many worse things to parents who claim they're better than you are just because they have kids and not get banned, go here:


There is a time and a place for everything.

4th-Mar-2010 09:26 pm (UTC)
If there was a policy against using swear words, and that was the reason cited for my block, that argument would hold more water. As it was, I was blocked for creating a "hostile environment" when I and others happen to think that environment already existed.

I had already addressed what the other person said on more than one occasion, as did several others including you. We were repeating ourselves and not being heard, and I felt I needed to be more drastic to be heard.

I have not once claimed that you were dictating how I should think or feel, the people who are saying that childfree adults can't have the same feelings towards children as parents do are the ones who are making statements about how other people think or feel. The comment by corpsefairy was directed towards those individuals and not you, because she did not read the original thread and didn't realize that the person who blocked me was not also on that side of the argument. Apparently I have to repeat myself again... if you're not the person doing these things, then I am not talking about you. When I say your name, then you can assume I am actually talking about you in particular.

Yes, I do think the people at polyamory.com are so inflated with their own sense of self-importance that they can say things like "you can't possibly know what I'm going through" and "my life is more important than yours" and those people need to be takend own a few pegs. They are not more important than the people they deem as acceptable to be secondaries and they do not have special insight into what others think and feel.

The deference that is paid to a select few on that forum makes those people think that it is acceptable to treat others as second class citizens, and to cry "insult" without ever admitting or apologizing for their own insults.

Please don't fall into the same strawman cliche as everyone else on that board, I used to have more respect for you than that and I'm tired of knocking down strawmen. Of course don't think there are "many oppressive people that are preventing me from living my life to its fullest potential" (well, I do, but that's mostly at a governmental level, not a stupid online forum).

You are also falling into another cliche where people see a very specific reaction to a very specific situation and assume that it is the whole and entirety of that person. Telling me that I shouldn't get upset suggests that whatever I got upset about is actually OK and allowable. Going to a forum that is specifically designed for people to bitch about holier-than-thou parents does not actually instruct those parents that they are, in fact, being holier-than-thou, hurtful, naive, insulting, etc., and does not solve the problem. Social change only comes after society is made aware that what they're doing is wrong. And for most social movements, it often takes people being loud and obnoxious at first before people even see that there is something that needs to be changed.

People who prescript primary/secondary need to be made aware that their behaviour negatively affects those around them and right now things are set up so that they are protected from seeing the negative consequences of their prejudice and self-absorption. Repeating our position politely was not getting through, and repeating that we are repeating ourselves is still not getting through, as evidenced by the continued posts that completely ignore those other posts that DID address those very issues.

No, I have child-free friends that I can bitch to about the smug parents, and I have descriptive poly friends that I can bitch to about prescripting primaries. That does not bring it to the attention of those who need to do the changing. The time and place for social change is now and everywhere.
4th-Mar-2010 09:40 pm (UTC)
To better clarify what I meant with regards to corpsefairy, when you introduced yourself here as a moderator, and defended the position that it was *my* statement that was offensive, and not those making the insulting statements I was reacting to, she asked what makes those statements not offensive, since you are the moderator who chose my comments for moderation and not theirs.

This does not mean that she thinks you were the one making those statements, she wanted to know why those statements were not deemed "offensive". If she did assume you contributed to those statements, I'm sure she would retract that assumption now that she knows you did not. But her original question is still valid - if you are blocking people for offensive content, and that was the reason for blocking me, how do you justify letting those comments go unchallenged?
4th-Mar-2010 09:31 pm (UTC)
Also, I never used the word "squelching", so putting it in quotes is inaccurate. I said "being punished", I'm not complaining about censorship, I'm complaining about inconsistent use of punishment and authority
4th-Mar-2010 09:49 pm (UTC)
Wow. Um... I may be tempted to genuflect if should happen to meet you in person.
This isn't sarcasm, I just can't think of a better way to express the respect I have for your ethics, and the sheer level of passion with which you hold them.

I'm now very late for dinner, may have more to say later, but otherwise, I wish you a world not full of idiots.

5th-Mar-2010 03:41 am (UTC)
I am in complete agreement with you regarding the rights of "secondaries". I totally get your distinction between descriptive and prescriptive language (that's a good phrase to describe a concept I was having difficulty naming, btw - I may borrow that). I also think that getting a 6-point demerit on your polyamory.com licence is a harsh punishment.

Having said that, I understand where your detractors are coming from, even if I don't agree myself. You have an in-your-face style that I much prefer, but I imagine some people might find feather-ruffling. Personally I prefer to know exactly how someone feels about the issue being discussed and people's comments on it, which is something you are always very clear about.

As you say, the forum (and society in general) has a habit of confusing the content of a message with its delivery. It doesn't matter how offensive it is to condescend and say "oh, you couldn't possibly understand the issues at stake, you just sit quietly and my primary and I will tell you what is the best course to take in our relationship" - it's when you start swearing that people decide you're not playing nice.

I dunno. It's an attitude towards communication and debate that sucks, no doubt. But it's prevalent in the rest of society too (construction and lighting riggers excepted ;), so the moderator's response is not that surprising. If you have the inclination to phrase things like Oscar Wilde, you can say anything you like to anyone.

It's obviously a conspiracy by a core group of BSG fans to elevate their own rights above the rest of the population - saying "frack you" wouldn't get the same response =P
5th-Mar-2010 09:11 am (UTC)
"You have an in-your-face style that I much prefer, but I imagine some people might find feather-ruffling. Personally I prefer to know exactly how someone feels about the issue being discussed and people's comments on it, which is something you are always very clear about."

I think one of the issues is that there are other members of the forum who also have an "in your face" style that are able to do so without consequence because they happen to have a large number of posts on that forum and are very good at throwing hissy fits whenever they feel offended.

There is a huge double standard on that board and those who fall outside the popular views tend to get to experience a hostile environment.
6th-Mar-2010 03:44 am (UTC) - and the beat goes on and on and on. . . .
Well, I'm not going to pretend to know everything. Honestly, not a part of the group you referred to. This all came to MY attention when coming home last night. My husband had told me about it as a "Hey know that site we like and that woman that runs it? Biiiiig time rant going on." I left it at that, until twitter came into things. I stayed out of that too, though my husband corresponded with you. Since it's hard to say much on twitter, I want to respond here.

I was upset, I felt insulted by some of the comments made. I can see now, after reading your whole post, that to be honest, we agree with pretty much what you said. Husband and I may have children and my other may not, but it's never been an issue of treating him as less because of it, or because he's not my husband, or because he's not living with us. True we didn't tell the kids right away, but as the poly thing was new we didn't tell them about that either. We let them know slowly, but now they know. My other is very much a part of things, we talk and chat every day, for quite a while, we work together on projects online. While we came to poly in not the best light, there was never rules that were hard set in stone for any of us. More, let's only go this far, until we can all adjust, at the slowest person's pace, but we DID progress.

As I've gotten hit with the unicorn hunters, still do at times, I would NEVER want to treat someone with so little disregard. Maybe I'm more aware because I'm a hinge and so each relationship stands on it's own, is discussed with that partner, and then openly with everyone, but if anything, husband and I worry about doing more for my other, and my other is constantly letting us know that if we need time for us, or for the kids to take it. We tell him to take time for his family as he is taking care of his family including a child himself. I'd say we work hard at respecting each other's boundaries, needs and responsibilities, but it's not always a lot of work. It's natural, because we care about each other, in at least an empathetic person to person way, to want to take care of each other and know people are doing well and getting what they need.

I know a lot of it is over definitions, this hurt, and it kind of makes me laugh, I've never seen two people agree definitively on a definition! We use prescriptive, well the way it seemed to us, like a doctor prescribing. "We'll try this, give it some time and re evaluate, does it work, do we need more, less, something else?" and like a (good) doctor the decision is based on all experiences and not just doled out on what one person thinks with no input from the people involved! So I will say I am sorry, that it upset you so much and I can understand with a build up of hearing it over and over, seeing it experiencing it and feeling like ramming your head through a wall! I will choose to assume that it was all that anger and frustration that led to the hurtful comments regarding the people I care about.
6th-Mar-2010 04:25 am (UTC) - Re: and the beat goes on and on and on. . . .
"Prescribing" is not the same as "Prescripting", even though they have the same root word. To pre-script something is to write it out beforehand. The word is typically used to mean a hard and fast rule. As you can see, most of the top definitions for various derivatives of the word include "rules" or even "laws", which have very different implications than "let's try things this way and see how it goes".

pre·scrip·tion (pr-skrpshn)
1. The act of establishing official rules, laws, or directions.

Main Entry: pre·scrip·tion
Pronunciation: \pri-ˈskrip-shən\
Function: noun
Etymology: partly from Middle English prescripcion establishment of a claim, from Anglo-French, from Late Latin praescription-, praescriptio, from Latin, act of writing at the beginning, order, limitation of subject matter, from praescribere; partly from Latin praescription-, praescriptio order
Date: 14th century
1 a : the establishment of a claim of title to something under common law usually by use and enjoyment for a period fixed by statute b : the right or title acquired under common law by such possession
2 : the process of making claim to something by long use and enjoyment
3 : the action of laying down authoritative rules or directions

Main Entry: pre·scribe
Pronunciation: \pri-ˈskrīb\
Function: verb
Etymology: Middle English, from Latin praescribere to write at the beginning, dictate, order, from prae- + scribere to write — more at scribe
Date: 15th century
intransitive verb
1 : to lay down a rule : dictate
transitive verb
1 a : to lay down as a guide, direction, or rule of action : ordain b : to specify with authority

pre·scrip·tive (pr-skrptv)
1. Sanctioned or authorized by long-standing custom or usage.
2. Making or giving injunctions, directions, laws, or rules.

In the context of "prescripting a primary relationship", that phrase was coined by tacit, who specifically intended for it to mean a set of rules created by an individual, couple, or family group to apply to a relationship that has not yet been established, with a person who has either not yet been met or with a person who is not allowed to have any input into these rules.

A key component of the word is the prefix "pre", meaning these rules and laws are all set down *beforehand*, so even if the word is used to cover a more flexible set of guidelines, they are still created without the input of the person or people that are most affected by them. They are created *before* the relationship starts.

By not allowing the person who will be most directly affected by the rules or the consequences of the rules, it necessarily demotes them to unequal partners in their own relationship, i.e. second-class citizens. It robs them of the dignity to have as much of a choice in the their relationships as the other participants. In fact, it gives people who are not directly in the relationship a bigger say than the person or people in it.

An extreme example of a prescriptive relationship is a Muslim arranged marriage, where a contract is drawn up, written by the parents of the future spouses, that dictate the structure of the future marriage, with no input from the future wife. Sometimes the future husband has some input, it depends on how old he is. These contracts cover things like whether or not the wife will be allowed to obtain a divorce, and if so, exactly in what manner she will be allowed to do so.

Many "poly" couples treat their future partners in this manner, albeit with much less harsh penalties. But any method of deciding for someone else what the limits of their relationship will be, without their input, falls under "prescriptive relationships".

If you are not doing that to your partners, then you do not prescript your relationships.

If you are using the term "prescriptive" but not using the word in this way, then you are using it incorrectly, or, if you prefer, you have created a new meaning for the word that will cause communication difficulties with everyone else who uses the word according to its original definition and intention.
6th-Mar-2010 04:52 am (UTC) - Re: and the beat goes on and on and on. . . .
Hmm, perhaps I was wrong. This is why new poly don't really do more then lurk for YEARS. The 'established' poly seem to feel their rules are THE rules. They coined the phrase, they made up the definitions, they say this is what it means, and if you aren't doing it that way, then you are wrong. To be a group of people that are working SO hard to show that the "established" forms of family, relationship, and even communication is not the only way, it's incredibly ironic, if not hypocritical to believe the only way you are going to be poly, the only way to say or do anything is how the 'established' polys say.

There are problems with communication on ANY subject, but most especially poly. Simply because not everyone feels the same way about the same definitions or words. Hang out with some newly poly, the ones that have found out while in an established relationship, usually through affairs of physical and/or emotional types. They are struggling because when they come to 'established' polys for help, for some sort of help, questions, they get blasted. Because you already have it all figured out.

I'd much rather be part of these newly poly that are supportive of each other, and ask and assume the best, rather then DICTATE what is and isn't. Because what you call prescriptive, is dictative, and that's exactly what you are doing.

Sad. It reminds me of nurses that start out wanting so much to help and be kind, but become so jaded all they end up doing is being hard, rude and offensive, the whole time believing they are technically correct.

As my relationships are full and respectful of everyone in them, and outside of them, I'll stick to how we are doing things then fretting over not following the edicts of people who because they have a blog that has coined a phrase are obviously in the right. Period. It's that kind of DICTATIVE attitude that I steer clear of. Why would I EVER want to talk to or be in a relationships with someone who feels the need to be right so keenly they could not possibly see that they are offensive, have empathy for anyone that doesn't jump on their bandwagon, or be capable of apologizing for being rude. Instead having to again assert how right they are.

May your knowledge in how right you are, in everything poly, keep you happy.
6th-Mar-2010 05:18 am (UTC) - Re: and the beat goes on and on and on. . . .
Language IS an agreed-upon meaning for a collection of sounds. Without common definitions, we do not have a common language and we cannot communicate.

The word "prescriptive" existed centuries before those of us came along and applied it to polyamory. It has a definition and that word is useful for describing a very particular set of circumstances.

You are free to make up whatever words or meanings for existing words you want, but if you insist on talking about the fabulously rich sound of your new tuna fish sandwich thanks to the new reed you installed, you are going to have a serious communication issue with everyone who calls a clarinet by its proper term.

This is not about how "right" I am, this is about people who insist on treating others as if they do not have a right to participate in their own relationships, but are, rather, there for the purpose of providing a relationship to the ones making the rules. Words that have existed for centuries already have a meaning, and it is more beneficial to use accepted definitions when a word already exists to cover the concept we're trying to talk about, than it is to co-opt words and make them mean the opposite of what they were intended to mean.

tacit's usage of the term "prescriptive" for the poly community is completely in keeping with its long-held definition. There wasn't a word to describe multiple loving relationships, so Morning Glory coined it. The entire community revolves around "coined" terminology, but the most effective terms are ones that most closely resemble their root words so that people not familiar with the community-specific words can still understand what we're saying.

And if you're going to start calling me names in my own journal, then you can just fuck off too.
6th-Mar-2010 03:17 pm (UTC) - Re: and the beat goes on and on and on. . . .
All rightie. EbonyMermaid/Ravenesque here.

"If you are using the term "prescriptive" but not using the word in this way, then you are using it incorrectly, or, if you prefer, you have created a new meaning for the word that will cause communication difficulties with everyone else who uses the word according to its original definition and intention."


"Language IS an agreed-upon meaning for a collection of sounds. Without common definitions, we do not have a common language and we cannot communicate."


"You are free to make up whatever words or meanings for existing words you want, but if you insist on talking about the fabulously rich sound of your new tuna fish sandwich thanks to the new reed you installed, you are going to have a serious communication issue with everyone who calls a clarinet by its proper term."

As I said on Twitter, it reminds me of how some say they use "veto," describing a dynamic that effectively is the opposite of veto and has no relation to the word whatsoever. Veto doesn't mean discussion and negotiation. Veto means unilateral decision overriding all objection. Yet I've been told "oh we don't make unilateral decisions, we talk and come to a decision together." It strikes me as ridiculous and a transparent attempt to make a prescriptive dynamic appear to be something else.

I think the "common language" portion is crucial because even if two people understand a word to mean the same thing, there is a common language there regardless of if a million people see the word otherwise. This is my view as someone who was once a Linguistics major and ended up with an Africana Studies degree. There is a history (and present day) of oppression in regards to what proper and correct language usage is.

When I speak or write, I do have an awareness most times of if I am using a word differently from how some understand it. This may be the case because the word has a different meaning in different cultures (such as my own culture) or because I use the word intentionally different. Because of this, I usually say "when I use this word, I use it wit the meaning blah blah blah." If someone is confused I explain. That in itself can extend a shared language.

An example. Family for me may not mean what it means for others. Black families in the U.S. have always had a different structure than the mainstream understanding of family therefore the term "broken home" may be used to describe a Black family as opposed to "in tact home," because people understand a "family" to mean totally different things. I come from a single parent home and as far as I'm concerned it was a family and it was in tact. Some kids are raised by grandparents or aunts and uncles, or by parents and grandparents and aunts and uncles and godparents, and family friends. Coming into the poly community with this understanding of family perhaps makes it easier for me to see possibility for what a poly family can be.

In addition to this, family for me no longer has to do with blood relation. I intentionally choose those within my family as they intentionally choose me.

When it comes to "prescription" and "veto" I do not think this is the case with the "poly" people I've spoken to. I believe they were trying to mask the prescription beneath with some other guise.

I remember what you wrote here:

"And I'm fucking sick to the point of blind, spitting, rage of people saying that my relationships "don't count" because they're long-distance or not live-in or I wasn't there first, and that the primaries are more important than the secondaries, whomever they designate as "secondary" by whatever arbitrary limitations they place on relationships they're not in."

I wondered if you were being told that your relationship didn't count as "primary." Was that the case? If so, it then seems that some people believe a primary could only be this that and the third. No changes.

Because of this I hardly think you were saying that there is only one correct way to use words based on original intent with no room for growth because language is living. But you can correct me if I'm wrong.
6th-Mar-2010 07:40 pm (UTC) - Re: and the beat goes on and on and on. . . .
I have been told that my relationships don't count as "primary", but not in this specific set of arguments that I was complaining about.

That's a tough one because I don't think of my relationships as "primary" either, because of the inherent implication of "ranking" that comes along with a word that uses a numerical value.

But to imply that my relationships are "less important" (usually, by contrast, to their own live-in relationships) often pisses me off. And often (but not always), these are the same sorts of people who then turn around and throw out the oppositely-defined terms that tend to get me so frustrated.

As I've said before, many words have fuzzy borders at their edges. There is a widely understood implication of the word "family" that means a particular close bond of sorts between individuals. But which individuals *count* as family are one of those fuzzy variables, and those sorts of things usually require some clarification in order to have effective communication. That clarification is currently being fought at the national, policy-making level, in this case.

But not all words have the same amount of fuzziness at the edges, and those that I usually get into arguments about tend to be words that are being used, not fuzzily, but in direct opposition to the definition that is supported by the "authorities" on the subject (dictionaries, linguists, historians) and the common understanding of the word (sometimes the Argument from Authority *is* a valid argument).

Insistence on using words, not just a little differently, not just blurring the edges, not just expanding the definition a little, but in the exact opposite manner of its original and currently widely-used definition not only causes a breakdown in communication, but it also renders the word useless when we expand its definition to the point that it means one thing and its opposite simultaneously.

Words have value, they have meaning, they have importance. They represent objects and concepts. These things need names so that we can communicate about them.

I've seen this done with the word "selfish", with "veto", with "prescriptive", with "atheist", with "slut", with "polyamory", with "monogamy" and with so many other words that I can't even think of them all. These words are symbols, representative of specific concepts. The edges of the concepts that they overreach might be soft or hard, or they might flex a little bit over time. But when you widen the scope of what that word represents to include everything, the word might as well not exist any longer because we no longer have something to represent a concept we want to communicate about.

Yes, I was not saying that there is only one correct way to use words with absolutely no room for growth. That would be a strawman argument. The very word "polyamory" was created relatively recently to cover a concept that previously had no word to represent it. Our entire tech lexicon had to be created relatively recently to cover concepts that did not exist before. In fact, many other languages use the English words for technology simply because we thought of it first and they didn't already have a word to cover a concept that didn't exist before we thought of it. The phrase "prescriptive primary" was created to cover a concept that previously had no other word to represent it. Without that word, discussions on the subject required a long, drawn out explanation every single time it was mentioned.

My point is that certain concepts already have representative names. They've been around a long time, they're well understood, and they exist in a manner in which someone unfamiliar with them can look them up and learn about them.

6th-Mar-2010 07:41 pm (UTC) - Re: and the beat goes on and on and on. . . .

Language is living, but it's also a tool. I've used my wrench as a hammer before. It works, kinda. But a hammer is better, and when I need to tighten a bolt, the wrench is better AND it works most efficiently if I haven't banged it all up by smacking it against nails.

When a concept already has a name, and when that name has been in use long enough to have made it into common understanding and has been accepted as the "proper" term for a particular concept, it is more effective and efficient to continue using it in that manner. When the term no longer serves its function of accurately describing its concept, that's when they become applied to other, more relevant, concepts, and when a new concept that does not have a name arises with enough importance to be discussed and shared and communicated about, that's when new words are created.

The new words that are the most effective, however, are the ones that use their roots, and their relation to other commonly understood words, rather than attempting to dump its implications and history all together and insist "no, that word USED to mean X, but now it means the exact opposite".

When the word "polyamory" was created, for instance, it became popular as a new word because "poly" and "amory" already had meaning, and their existing meanings effectively conveyed the new concept. We did not start calling a multi-person loving relationship "oligamory", which would be the root words for "few" and "love", or "uniphilia" would would be the root words for "one" and "love", or even "polyphobia" which would be the root words for "many" and "fear". No one came up with those words and said "I don't care what the historical meaning of the words are, I'm creating a whole new word in direct opposition to the root words' original meaning, and I expect people to understand what I'm saying and I'll get mad if anyone tries to tell me I'm wrong."

"Polyamory" works, and caught on, because it remained consistent with the original meaning of the words that comprised it. In this way, people could say "polyamory" and effectively convey a concept that a person who has never heard the word before can grasp, even if the edges of the umbrella are a little fuzzy, even when there is some dispute about whether this specific situation, which kinda resembles the concept, should fit under the umbrella or not. We know what "poly" means, and we know what "multiple" means, and we know what "amory" means and we know what "love" means, and we have enough of a shared agreement on those words that we can *begin* the communication, even if further clarification is necessary and even if certain specific examples are debated.

So no, I'm not saying there is no room for growth. I'm saying "growth" is more effective when it uses the tools we have and is consistent with pre-existing terminology. Anyone attempting to do otherwise will find themselves in an uphill battle to be understood by the vast majority of people who use the term in other ways, and the minority of people who are unfamiliar with the term at all but who look to authorities like the dictionary to teach or reinforce understanding in a new term.
6th-Mar-2010 10:03 pm (UTC) - Re: and the beat goes on and on and on. . . .
Ravenesque here.

I'm fairly new to the poly community and I didn't like the terms primary/secondary/tertiary either because all I can see is gold medal, silver medal, first place, second place. And a movie I saw a while back called Raise the Red Lantern.

In regards to the forums, I had a negative experience with another forum called The Birdcage. The arguments, biases and the methods of discussing where people were accused of attacking others etc were similar with what I've seen on Polyamory.com. Humorously some from both forums have become best buds. Birds of a feather and all that.

"But not all words have the same amount of fuzziness at the edges, and those that I usually get into arguments about tend to be words that are being used, not fuzzily, but in direct opposition to the definition that is supported by the "authorities" on the subject (dictionaries, linguists, historians) and the common understanding of the word (sometimes the Argument from Authority *is* a valid argument).

Insistence on using words, not just a little differently, not just blurring the edges, not just expanding the definition a little, but in the exact opposite manner of its original and currently widely-used definition not only causes a breakdown in communication, but it also renders the word useless when we expand its definition to the point that it means one thing and its opposite simultaneously.

Words have value, they have meaning, they have importance. They represent objects and concepts. These things need names so that we can communicate about them."


"So no, I'm not saying there is no room for growth. I'm saying "growth" is more effective when it uses the tools we have and is consistent with pre-existing terminology. Anyone attempting to do otherwise will find themselves in an uphill battle to be understood by the vast majority of people who use the term in other ways, and the minority of people who are unfamiliar with the term at all but who look to authorities like the dictionary to teach or reinforce understanding in a new term."

I'll admit I am a bit more relativist on the topic of language. Language is tied to my politics quite a bit. My perspective is one that sees value not in the age of language but in how language connects people. How language can be used to connect people and how it has been used to disconnect people. Language is connected to colonialism and imperialism as much as religion and land and resources are.

Next it has been the case that the minority speaks or writes in such a way that it has been an uphill battle because the majority does not deem that way of speaking to have value. Language has been wielded as a tool with other devices to stamp out other cultures. Translate or learn this language or else you'll be forever disadvantaged and misunderstood. Assimilate. You understand us. We don't have to understand you.

Thinking structurally here, there is a manner of speaking that some people in the African diaspora share in various countries. It varies here and there depending on the history. Though not popular knowledge (and well the mainstream is usually focused inwards and not out) this structure has been traced to language structures in Africa. Though these people have been separated from those languages for who knows how long, the structure remains, only in English (or French or Spanish etc).

These ways of speaking have been called pejoratively 'dialects,' 'patois,' 'broken English,' etc.

I see a solution to possible communication chaos to be regular explanation and discussion of what words mean to us as well as a great deal of exposure to languages (as many non-Euro ones as possible too) other than English (or whatever the common language is) so we grow to understand those languages by immersion/osmosis and better understand people who speak those languages.

I think I understand what you mean about using roots but the question would then be roots from which languages? Why these languages and not those languages?

So to start off, the above may give you insight into where my perspective comes from on language.

(gods really? Just 4300 words)
6th-Mar-2010 10:05 pm (UTC) - Re: and the beat goes on and on and on. . . .
(Ravenesque continued)

There was a discussion where one poster persistently asked another on Polyamory.com why she used the word "fuck buddy" if she felt the relationship was a deep and meaningful one and could include love. Why not use the word lover?

At this point, it was beating a dead horse because the poster had already described what fuck buddy meant for her and that was what mattered even if it was not the terminology the other poster would use.

In discussions about prescription and veto, I have not encountered anyone who starts off using the opposite meanings of either. These poly people describe relationships where the rules disadvantage and place restrictions on incoming partners and it also gives one partner or more, more say over relationships they will not actually be participating in except as a peripherals.

The discussion changes when the inherent restrictions and insecurities over another's ability to love and see how a relationship will grow for good or bad are highlighted by others. Suddenly the dynamic which was described is altered to seem more favorable in the discussion. This is then where we get the "opposite." Usually by the one/s who wants the veto in place. The one who are ruled over by these prescriptions justify it by saying that without them, partners would run roughshod over their loves (boy would I want a partner like that). This is what I've come across.

This bugs me a lot and it is dishonest on several levels. It can be a ploy or it can be a sign of a total lack of self awareness and trust in the relationship.

I do believe I would see it differently if the word truly meant something different to these individuals but I think I'm a pretty good judge of bullshit.

Language can be serious. Language can also be extremely funny, ridiculous, and not that serious at all. There are words known as autoantonyms. Autoantonyms are words that mean the opposite of themselves. How did they come about? I'm not sure. Maybe I'll look it up one day.

7th-Mar-2010 04:15 am (UTC) - Re: and the beat goes on and on and on. . . .
I've noticed that trend to. I'll say something about, say, prescriptive, or veto, and someone will say "I do that", and I'll say "you know that's not fair, right?" and they'll say "wait, did I say I do that? What I meant was I kinda do that, but really I do this" and the more I stick to the "that's bad" position, the further back they try to weasel out of resembling whatever negative picture I'm painting.

Now, I've hurt people in the past. I've cheated. I have no excuse for that. It was wrong. Period. I can give you all the reasons I did it, but being able to justify to myself why I'm not a Bad Person doesn't change the fact that I did actually treat someone else poorly.

I meet very few people willing to say that about themselves. Usually they just try to re-write the definition of the word so that they don't look so bad when it applies to them.

Someone just did that on Twitter. They started out by admitting to prescripting, and when I said it wasn't fair to the other person, they said "well, it wasn't really unfair because they had a say in it, and anyway, it was necessary for me as a security blanket to get accustomed to this whole poly thing, and now everyone's an equal partner" I responded with "great to hear it worked out for everyone - you still learned your lessons at the expense of someone else." Naturally that was followed with yet more backtracking about how his version of "prescripting" wasn't the same as the one I was using, and besides, it was necessary.

As you said, this shows to me quite a lot of dishonesty, mainly with themselves. I stopped cheating because it finally became clear to me just how much it robs another human of his dignity and his ability and right to give informed consent to his own life. As long as I believed it was *my* right to do what I needed to do, that trumped the value of human dignity. Only when I began to value human dignity above my own comfort did cheating become impossible for me to continue.

It seems to me that a lot of these arguments over semantics are really just ways for people convince themselves (and possibly others) that they're not The Bad Guy (as if The Bad Guy wears the black hat and is one-dimensionally A Bad Guy, chortling maniacally in his lair about the chaos he's planning) by re-writing the definitions so they don't sound so "bad", for whatever detail they're placing that value judgement on.

I fall back on root words, etc. because I want to be accurate in my communication (and yes, I am Euro-centric in my language use because that's my primary language and typically the primary language of those I'm talking to), but when that might possibly make the person I'm talking to appear to be A Bad Guy, then it, I think, becomes easier to fight over the definition of a word rather than address the possibility that someone might not be as "good" of a person as they think of themselves.
6th-Mar-2010 07:47 pm (UTC) - Re: and the beat goes on and on and on. . . .
Oh, and as an aside, the original post by tacit that started the whole fight in the forums started out with specifying the definition of "prescriptive primary" that he intended to use in his post.
6th-Mar-2010 11:52 am (UTC) - Re: and the beat goes on and on and on. . . .
How is using a word in the exact same way that it is used in our language and in the exact same way it's defined in the dictionary dictating?

You must feel terribly oppressed by Merriam Webster dictating to you what words mean and all....
6th-Mar-2010 10:06 pm (UTC) - Re: and the beat goes on and on and on. . . .
Ravenesque here.

Depends on the dictionary being used. English dictionaries tend to favor Euro-centric languages. :-P But I got your meaning.
6th-Mar-2010 11:26 pm (UTC)
Oh, my. Oh, my. I've enjoyed this post WAY too much.

So ... does that mean I agree with your central point here? I don't think so; I think I'm still going to advocate to my coupled-poly exes for a practice of announcing to all new lovers up front that -- according to the relationship model preferred by the one member of their partnership who tends to state her needs out loud -- if anything really serious ever comes up, they'll only be able to be reliably responsive to each other's needs and feelings, not the new person's, thank you very much, and that any new person had better be watching his or her own back from the outset and continue doing so for as long as the relationship lasts.

I think I'm well-intentioned, here! I think mate-guarding can be done with respect! I think there's room for sexual relationships in which exposure of vulnerabilities is clearly limited! I think I wish they'd given me fair warning by setting out an array of anti-love rules right up front and giving me the chance to choose for myself whether I wanted to be involved with those rules before I fell in love, that's what I think, rather than laughing at me and calling me back to bed whenever I acted skittish, and THEN pulling out the essentially monogamous mission statement. I think they're older and wiser now; I think they can do a better job for the next person.

On the other hand, I MIGHT just be trying to get them to fail as badly with everyone else as they did with me, back when we were all awkward, reticent lovers.

Those poor fucks. My poor best friends. I gave them as good a dose of spitting rage as you're giving now, for several months at a time, a couple of years back. I broke them into shivering little pieces, then refused to speak to them for a year, and they came back when I was ready, met me on my own turf and on my own terms, and said "okay, we care, let's all live this down together."

And yet I STILL enjoy reading this rant? I STILL have a bitter streak that identifies with your bitterness? Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck. Something's still wrong, isn't it. Yeah. Something's still wrong.

This stuff's really hard.

/sympathetic emotional reaction>

<judgment I agree-for-real with this much of what you've said: If you enter a relationship with half of a couple, and then that couple makes new rules for your relationship without consulting you, you're being oppressed. Here's something I want to point out, though: If a couple lays out a script for your potential relationship with one of them and tells you the relationship is only available if you agree to the script, and you don't like what's in the script, or you don't like the fact of there BEING a script, but you choose to enter the relationship anyway and hide your anger and dissatisfaction at its rules, then they're not the first ones to fail to respect your life and needs. You are.
7th-Mar-2010 10:09 am (UTC)
judgment I agree-for-real with this much of what you've said: If you enter a relationship with half of a couple, and then that couple makes new rules for your relationship without consulting you, you're being oppressed. Here's something I want to point out, though: If a couple lays out a script for your potential relationship with one of them and tells you the relationship is only available if you agree to the script, and you don't like what's in the script, or you don't like the fact of there BEING a script, but you choose to enter the relationship anyway and hide your anger and dissatisfaction at its rules, then they're not the first ones to fail to respect your life and needs. You are.

Wow. You really missed the point.

Her rant wasn't about that.


Yet poly communities are littered with insecure couples that continue to DEFEND their right to treat others in such a shitty way because "there's no one right way to do poly".

And beyond that, when those of us who have been completely burned by such behavior call out couples who behave that way, somehow WE'RE viewed as attacking, or "imposing our ONE TRUE WAY" (as if it's too much to say "YOU SHOULDN'T TREAT PEOPLE LIKE SHIT")

Communities that do that give tacit permission for people to treat others like shit and for unpartnered or unmarried folk to be treated like second class citizens.

Save your judgement for those who deserve it. Sheesh.
18th-Apr-2010 05:14 pm (UTC)
Hm. You're right. After getting burned by my relationship with the couple I so unkindly describe above, I'm wise enough to make sure that I insist on full negotiating rights when entering new relationships with any couple whose pre-existing commitment might tempt us all to treat my needs as being less important than theirs. Full negotiating rights, for every romantic partner, in every decision that affects them directly, and I'm going to USE those rights and insist that my partners do the same: that's my 40-page contract in a nutshell. I haven't written it all down, but I have explained it in enough detail to feel able to build a tentative new romantic relationship, with that same couple, with what I consider to be a pretty decent power balance. We're all getting our limits firmly stated; it's an extremely restricted relationship from all sides. It's great, though. I'm giddy with happiness actually.

I guess that's why I like this rant so much: it sounds to me as if the OP's letting her anger help her write the contract that any new already-partnered partner of hers is going to have to "sign." I like seeing people learn to stand up for themselves! I've only learned it myself so recently! My criticism, which I meant to be read as such a mild one that it shades into congratulation, is along the lines of "Dude! Why didn't you do this earlier? We could save everybody a lot of trouble if we'd advocate for our own rights a little better at the outset of these relationships."

Mild or not, though, that criticism sounds scarily like a standard victim-blaming trope, so I'm gonna think about it now. Self-respect, self-knowledge, and clear stating of individual boundaries are necessary in ANY interaction, but good communities don't accept them as the only remedies to systemic abuses of power. Do we have a systemic abuse of power within a community, here?

Well, yes, maybe we do!

More thinking.
18th-Apr-2010 02:10 am (UTC)
"... anything really serious ever comes up, they'll only be able to be reliably responsive to each other's needs and feelings, not the new person's, thank you very much, and that any new person had better be watching his or her own back from the outset and continue doing so for as long as the relationship lasts."

Are you for real?

That's not something that falls under any kind of definition of "a relationship" that I know of. If you're going to treat "the new person" in a relationship that way, you shouldn't be having a relationship at all. You should be going to therapy and working out your issues with needing to emotionally abuse and drain other people in order to feel safe.

A fuck buddy is a fuck buddy; you expect them to watch their own back. A relationship involves being emotionally invested in someone else's well-being, and not in a casual sense.

I wanted to believe that this was just badly-worded, but by the time I got through the rest of your post... No. You are a scary person with fucked-up, abusive ideas of how to treat other people that you claim to be in a relationship with.

"I think mate-guarding can be done with respect!"

Well, you can hold that opinion all you like, but in practice you're wrong. If you need to "guard" your lover from the new person - if you see that "new person" as an interloper at all - then you shouldn't be in a relationship with them. Or your lover shouldn't, if they really give two shits about you.
7th-Mar-2010 03:37 am (UTC)
I'm late to this discussion, but thank you. Your blog regarding the behavior of members of the polyamory "community" unfortunately has all too much to do with why I can't seem to find a poly group online that I'm comfortable in.

Instead I find poly individuals who seem to understand and write about the same issues I've run into and wish there was a more welcoming space that actually fostered these types of discussion.
7th-Mar-2010 01:58 pm (UTC)
Wow! What more can I say?! That was some good reading I must say. I need a punching bag...quick. I'm feeling a bit antsy and full of adrenaline right now.

Ok, ok, I'm just messing. But seriously, I enjoyed this rant very much. Very thought provoking to say the least. By now, I hope you're in a much more relaxed mindset. That stress is a killer and you sound like a decent and meaningful person. As a matter-of-fact, I'ma have myself a drink in your honor tonight. Take care Joreth.

8th-Mar-2010 03:14 pm (UTC) - My two cents
Chey here,

I enjoyed the rant greatly. I've been struggling with poly and how to accept a new person into my existing relationship, make them feel welcome, and still have the original relationship I spent 18 years building continue to function smoothly. Not easy.

I have two kids, one with medical needs that severely limits babysitting and creates a whole host of stress. I don't ask that my SOs OSO understand and grasp what it means to be a parent, but I question if she understands how much of what appears to be 'us' time as a husband/wife couple is actually dedicated to kids. It's not that I don't think she understands that the kids come first. But I do believe that if my husband has to cancel dates because of kids she will rapidly stop being understanding and start being hurt. Which puts extra stress on me to provide the time and space for he and she to get together, regardless of my health and the kids' health.

I don't put rules and limitations of their time together, *they* do that themselves as part of their negotiation. So no, I don't think you were talking about my relationship in particular. But she calls herself secondary. Not because she is afforded less respect, but because she knows she will never be a live in partner and she herself has responsibilities outside of her and my husbands' relationship that take priority. Does that demean their relationship? I don't think so.

The only problem I have is people who, in coming into a new relationship, want rights and privileges that have usually take months or years to build. Some want to dive right in a be part of the family structure. I take forever to get comfortable with new people. No disrespect to a new sweetie, but I want to wait until I know that the relationship is going to work between her and my husband before I invest time and caring. I want to get a better feel for who the person is before I become good friends. It doesn't mean I limit their time together, but I find it does bother me when a new sweetie expects (and occasionally demands) that we become one big happy family and she's accepted into the household as a new best friend. NRE does not translate across spousal bonds.

I'm respectful of a new relationship. I'm respectful toward a person who has a part of my husband's heart. I may not be the sort of person you are referring to in your rant, but there are many new 'secondaries' who expect to plug right in to an existing relationship without doing much work and wail and complain that they are not being treated equally or well. I wonder what you would say to those people.
8th-Mar-2010 07:27 pm (UTC) - Re: My two cents
I addressed each of the points you make her already.

As I said, if you're not doing what I'm talking about, then I'm not talking about you.

This was not a rant about the words "primary" and "secondary". When used descriptively, they're perfectly legitimate labels.

I also covered the part about new relationships taking time to build and not immediately becoming equal to a spouse.

The point was to not compare the new relationship to the existing relationship. They're not the same thing. The point was to say that the new partner is equal in his own relationship to his partner, not to his partner's spouse.

To the secondaries who expect to have access to the checking account and decorating rights to the home, I'd say the exact same thing that I did here. A new relationship takes time to build and it is not appropriate to do that. I already covered that.

I know it's a long rant, but people not reading what I wrote, then responding to things I already covered was part of what got me so angry at the polyamory.com forums.
8th-Mar-2010 07:32 pm (UTC)
People, I don't know how to make it any more clear that a new partner should have the same say *as the other partner* in *that* relationship, not the same say in his *life* as his spouse of 20 years
20th-May-2011 03:33 am (UTC) - thank you!
Thank you so much for posting this. I am involved in a poly relationship where I am treated in this very way. There aren't kids involved, but the primary insists on creating rules that I and our shared partner must follow. When I asked for privacy around my conversations with him, she insisted that I was "disrepecting" their relationship and that she had a *right* to know everything I said that had to do with her. She also makes rules about when I can be in their house and throws a fit if there is basically any evidence that I exist there (for example, I left my bag at the house while our partner and I went for a walk, she came home from work early and was upset that it was there). I have been at my wit's end for many months because I don't know how to deal with someone who obviously has no respect for me.

The feeling was only made worse when I turned to poly communities (online and in real life) and was basically met with the assumption that the primary is the most important and their feelings must be protected at all costs. Many times I heard that poly people are better and more enlightened than mono people because they can openly address jealousy and they "communicate, communicate, communicate." Tell me, how do you communicate with someone who treats you like a child?

I know not all poly people are like that, but I just wanted to express my frustration and say THANK YOU for being someone inside the poly community who can understand this feeling. I have decided that polyamory is not for me, but I hope that all people who will potentially be in poly relationships will read this and take it to heart. Everyone involved in a relationship has a right to shape that relationship and be treated with respect.

20th-May-2011 07:24 am (UTC) - Re: thank you!
It is my private little hypothesis that the only people who are in favor of prescripting their relationships or doing hierarchical mandatory roles have never tried dating polyamorously as a single person (especially as a single female).

I hope that whatever style of relationship you ultimately find yourself in, you don't rule out polyamory *strictly* because of this kind of experience. There are plenty of us who take issue with exactly these sorts of situations ... and some of us are even partnered to people who take new partners!

No, poly people are not better or more enlightened. The best you can say is that successful poly relationships require a certain set of skills that mono relationships benefit from but do not necessarily require. Being poly, there's no guarantee that any given individual actually *has* those skills. In fact, being poly just gives us that many more opportunities to screw things up!
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