Friday, January 23, 2009



When one is polyamorous and has more than one person of importance in one's life, the issue of what to call everyone comes up. PG has a distinct dislike for hierarchical titles (primary, secondary, tertiary), so I've been trying to come up with alternates that fit well.

The fairly universal mulit-purpose term that is used is "partner". I've been using it myself for quite some time, but it honestly doesn't do it for me. Partner is either too much, too little, or just not right for the people I care for, never mind trying to describe S or PG's other connections!

How does one find words that fit, when the standard definitions don't? "Spouse" works for PG and I on some levels, but our current relationship is far expanded from what most people think of when the term spouse is used.

How about S? Do I call him my "Spice" (plural of spouse)? Nah, he doesn't want to experience anything related to matrimony as he's known it previously, and frankly, I don't care to have that association tacked to our relationship either!

And here we are back at partner again... Too formal and businesslike for my taste, and not evocative of the rich organic flavor that permeates my relationships.

Many poly folk I have talked to have dispensed entirely with trying to describe who anyone is to them, and just introduce the person. I invest in and enjoy my relationships deeply, so claiming that connection still feels important to me. But how?

"Girlfriend" and "boyfriend" are ridiculously juvenile. S and I tried out "paramour" for a while, but due to the utter lack of vocabulary in the populace at large, explaining what that meant to us got a bit old. It's a bit flashy as well.

For those of you reading, if you've developed a term(s) that work well for you in describing your relationships, please do let me know! I'm eager to move beyond "partner", and into the words that lie outside the box.


Anonymous said...

We've puzzled over this a lot too and don't have any better answers. We usually use housemate because, well, it describes what we are and it is generic enough to work for our kids too. In more specific discussions about poly relationships, partner or lover gets used but we haven't come up with anything much better. I like simply using their name and leaving labels out as much as possible. It really reaffirms the individual involved.

peteonearth said...

I always prefer to go with "beloved(s)"...

Shhh.... said...

Some good points in this one. Since my current relationship is so new, I haven't really had to worry too much about defining or categorizing the various connections between the three of us. I've heard the couple I'm "dating" describe each other as "partners" in the past, but it does sound so very business-like. Maybe that would make me a silent-partner or an associate. No. I don't know. I think I'll try to avoid using any titles for now. :D