Relationship Pluralism – On Poly/ENM Nomenclature

I’ve got *huge* linguistic issues with a lot of the jargon in this sphere. I can’t abide defining myself in the negative, or qualifying my behavior with blanket judgments, so the term “ethical non-monogamy” makes me cringe far too hard to use it. And besides that, the use of these words concedes arguments about the default nature of that behavior – that anything outside of monogamy is de facto unethical, and that monogamy is the natural human state from which I deviate – and I’m cool with neither of those things. Would you buy a muffin from an Edible Non-Toxic Bakery? ‘Cause that seems hella shady to me.

I understand the spirit of “relationship anarchy” but anarchy is like altruism or an amphisbaena – it doesn’t exist in nature. There’s always a power differential, shifty though it may be. There are always rules, as long as there are others. The goal was to imply freedom from hierarchy, and I get that, but the conveyed message is too often one of freedom from order, which in relationship terms translates to toxicity and/or bullshit drama and that’s not what I’m trying to bring to the table.

Regarding “polyamory”, it was a lovely umbrella term for a while, but the Church of All Worlds folks definitely poured the foundations with hierarchy in the mix, and that’s been more and more evident as ENM and RA become more established regions of the map to emigrate to. I appreciate the “solo poly” attempt to retrofit the term, but I still have trouble reconciling the “solo” bit – especially as someone with a nesting partner and kids, it feels dismissive of my larger contexts.

Therefore, I reject these options and substitute my own descriptive, affirmative, linguistically neutral term: “relationship pluralism”. I have lots of relationships. The one thing I’m trying to describe is the numerousness, because basically everything else is an organic derivation based on the person or people, which could fit under any of the other headers (and probably under some that weren’t mentioned). It’s not the opposite of a thing, and it’s not inherently bad, or tiered, or fraught with subtext. It’s just n+1. Neatly wrapped.

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