I was asked on okcupid recently about the difference between swinging and polyamory.
The gentleman who asked the question identifies on the profile as single, and looking for a long-term relationship, but who would not be interested in dating someone who is already with another partner. I wonder where his question came from, so I started to look into his profile a bit more.
I tend to look a the “Unacceptable answers” questions when someone shows interest in what I have to say… and our percentile matches were in the seventies, which is generally pretty high for me. I figured it was worth a couple of minutes of my time.
He is certainly not open to open relationships, based on his answers, but I responded, and I was surprised to get another response almost immediately. If nothing else, I’m helping to explain polyamory to the world at large, one person at a time.
My Response to What’s the Difference between Polyamory and Swinging?
Polyamory and swinging are both forms of ethical non-monogamy, but many would argue that swinging is about only a physical connection (sex outside of a marriage or relationship bond) and polyamory is about multiple emotional attachments.
In today’s world, from my experience at least, many swingers are realizing they want more than just sex, or are realizing they already have an emotional connection to their swinging partners and are accepting polyamory as more of their true relationship structure.
My Response to his follow up of “How does the term open apply? I view open relationship as you do what you want you’re partner has no say.”
The term “open” has different meanings for everyone, in every kind of relationship. The key is to define “open” in whatever your relationship structure is at the time, and stay cognizant that the definition will most assuredly change over time.
For example, I am in an “open” relationship with my partner, but neither of us is seeing anyone else right now. What the word means to me is that I will feel no shame, guilt, or anxiousness when I want to discuss going out on a date with someone else, and I will do my best to not feel paranoia or anxiousness when he does the same.
Our version of “open” is designed to protect ourselves and each other from pain in any sense of the word.
If I feel restricted, I’ll feel pain from not being true to my nature of loving abundantly. So, while there isn’t a “veto” option in our relationship – and that option exists in many polyamorous relationships – I respect him and work to ensure I am not the source of pain for him, either.
We both need to feel secure in our relationship, and so I have a promise to him and to myself, that I will always listen with a logical mind to his questions and concerns, and when I know that I am not of sound logical mind, that I will do my best to take a step back from the situation to examine my head, my heart, and my emotions closely.
In terms of protecting ourselves, we also have agreements about things like STI testing before certain boundaries are crossed, that there will never be secret meetings between people, and that we promise to focus on one another in ways that will strengthen our relationship if additional people are added to our hearts’ strings.
So, yes, “Open” means that I can see whomever I want, but it does not mean that I will disrespect my partner in any way through that decision, or that if I do, I face consequences I don’t want to face.