Confused about all the words used in the poly world? This dictionary can help!
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AGENCY: “…the power people have to think for themselves and act in ways that shape their experiences and life trajectories. Agency can take individual and collective forms.” https://www.thoughtco.com/agency-definition-3026036
ASEXUAL: An asexual person (also “ace”) is someone who does not experience sexual attraction. Aces can be any sex or gender or age or ethnic background or body type, can be rich or poor, can wear any clothing style, and can be any religion or political affiliation. www.whatisasexuality.com/intro/
BDSM: BDSM is a variety of erotic practices that, in short, involve power exchange, role-playing, bondage, and other interpersonal dynamics. Given the wide range of practices, some of which may be engaged in by people who do not consider themselves as practicing BDSM, inclusion in the BDSM community or sub-cultures is usually dependent on self-identification and shared experience. Read our Intro to BDSM here.
BISEXUAL: 1. Of or related to sexual attraction to or sexual activity with both men and women, though not necessarily equally; as, a bisexual person: a person who is sexually attracted to or sexually active with partners of both sexes. 2. A person whose enduring physical, romantic and/or emotional attraction is to other people of various sexes and/or gender identities. Individuals may experience this attraction in differing ways and degrees over their lifetime.
CHEATING: In a relationship, any activity which violates the rules or agreements of that relationship, whether tacit or explicit. Commentary: In traditional monogamous relationships, any sexual activity with anyone outside that relationship is generally viewed as cheating. In a polyamorous or swinging relationship, sexual activity with people outside the relationship may or may not be seen as cheating, depending on the context of that sexual activity and whether or not it violates the agreements of the people in that relationship. Even in such relationships, most commonly sexual activity without the knowledge and explicit consent of the other members of the relationship is likely to be viewed as cheating.
CLOSED MARRIAGE: Any marriages where there is no emotional intimacy or sexuality outside the marriage; monogamous marriage. Contrast open marriage. Commentary: This is the most common form of marriage in most Western countries.
CLOSED RELATIONSHIP: Any romantic relationship, such as a conventional monogamous relationship or a polyfidelitous relationship, which specifically excludes the possibility of sexual or romantic connections outside that relationship.
COMET: [kom-it] Noun. 1. A person that passes through your life sporadically, remaining in contact when gone, but they are not a continuous partner.
COMPERSION: A feeling of joy when a partner invests in and takes pleasure from another romantic or sexual relationship. Commentary: Compersion can be thought of as the opposite of “jealousy;” it is a positive emotional reaction to a lover’s other relationship. The term was coined by the Kerista Commune.
CONDOM CONTRACT; also CONDOM COMPACT, CONDOM COMMITMENT: A formal agreement within a relationship to confine exchange of bodily fluids and barrier-free sexual contact to the people in that relationship, each of whom has previously been screened for sexually transmitted diseases. Condom contracts may specify under what conditions a member of that group may exchange body fluids or have sexual contact without barriers with a new partner, or may specify that such contact is not permissible with any new partner.
CO-HABITATE; also, COHABITATE, COHABIT: To live together. Cohabitating: the state or practice of living together.
CO-PRIMARY: A person who is one of two or more primary partners in a polyamorous relationship, as Bob and Joe are my co-primaries. See also primary/secondary; See related secondary, tertiary.
COWBOY/COWGIRL/PERSON: Colloquial A monogamous person who engages in a relationship with a polyamorous individual with the intention of separating the individual from any other partners and bringing the individual into a monogamous relationship.
DADT (initialism): See don’t ask, don’t tell.
DEMISEXUAL: A person who does not experience sexual attraction unless they form an emotional connection. It’s more commonly seen in, but by no means confined, to romantic relationships. The term demisexual comes from the orientation being “halfway between” sexual and asexual.
DON’T ASK, DON’T TELL (DADT): A relationship structure in which a person who is partnered is permitted to have additional sexual or romantic relationships on the condition that his or her partner does not know anything about those additional relationships and does not meet any of those other people. Commentary: Many people in the polyamorous community frown on don’t ask, don’t tell relationships, and choose not to become involved in such relationships. Some feel there are many dangers in such relationships, including the idea that a person who claims to be involved in such a relationship may simply be cheating (as the relationship often provides no mechanism by which that person’s partner may be contacted to confirm that the relationship permits other relationships); the belief that many people choose DADT relationships as a way of avoiding and not dealing with emotional issues such as jealousy; and the belief that DADT relationships are built on a foundation of lack of communication within the existing relationship.
EGALITARIAN: (adjective): 1. relating to or believing in the principle that all people are equal and deserve equal rights and opportunities.
ETHICAL SLUT: (Colloquial) A person who openly chooses to have multiple simultaneous sexual relationships in an ethical and responsible way, and who openly revels in that decision. See related responsible non-monogamy. Commentary: The term comes from the book The Ethical Slut, which advocates reclaiming the word “slut” from its derogatory meaning of a promiscuous woman.
ERE (Existing Relationship Energy): see ORE (Old/Original Relationship Energy)
FLUID BONDING: Of or related to practices which involve the exchange of bodily fluids, such as barrier-free sexual intercourse and BDSM: «blood play». See related condom contract.
FRIENDS WITH BENEFITS (FWB): A relationship in which two (or more) people establish a friendship which includes sex or sexual activity, typically without the same type or degree of expectations or other practical or emotional entanglements that typically accompany romantic relationships.
FUCK BUDDY: (Colloquial; vulgar) See friends with benefits.
FWB (ACRONYM): See friends with benefits.
HINGE: (Colloquial; )see pivot.
HOTEP: Someone labeled as or self-identifying as a Hotep generally has beliefs as follows (though there are always exceptions, like in everything else):
– black nationalist
– believe everything/most positive things done were done by black ppl and white ppl later lied about it
– ancient Egypt is the root/center of black history and culture (contrast this to Black Hebrew Israelites who believe biblical Jews were black and Egypt was still the bad guy)
– heavy sense of patriarchy. The man is king. The woman is queen. The man is in charge, the woman is subordinate.
– OPP or harem relationship rules
– toxic masculinity
– strong emphasis on building, whether it be communities, ’empires’, etc
You’ll notice that some of the attributes aren’t inherently bad (like building communities and such). The problem it often triggers with many (often younger members like me) is that the ‘good’ things are almost always paired with the heavily toxic things like homophobia/misogyny/etc. And it’s not uncommon for some ppl to take an idea like building and make ppl/women into objects towards that end, which is bad. – Marcus Pyles, Sep 5 , 2018 in a thread in the Facebook group, Black & Poly.
Writing eloquently for The Root, Damon Young defined a hotep as “a person who’s either a clueless parody of Afrocentricity” or “loudly, conspicuously and obnoxiously pro-black but anti-progress.” May 8, 2018
“Hotep” is an Egyptian word that means “at peace.” It’s basically the Egyptian “What’s good?” Over the past several decades, the word has also been utilized quite frequently by black Americans who happen to be more Afrocentric. Let me put it this way: If you happen to attend a Juneteenth festival this year and collect business cards from vendors there, at least 17 percent of them will have “Hotep” written somewhere on them. – https://www.theroot.com/hotep-explained-1790854506
HOTWIFE; also, HOT WIFE: (Colloquial) A married woman who takes male lovers outside the marriage, often in the context of swinging or BDSM: «cuckoldry»
JEALOUSY: A feeling of anger or bitterness that arises when something we already possess or feel we possess (usually a special relationship) is threatened by another person or persons. Distinct from envy, which is when we desire attributes of others for ourselves, although in popular culture, the two are used interchangeably. See https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/joy-and-pain/201401/what-is-the-difference-between-envy-and-jealousy
KITCHEN TABLE POLYAMORY: Kitchen Table Polyamory is a new term even in poly circles. It refers to poly relationships where everyone in the polycule is comfortable sitting together at the kitchen table with a cup of coffee. Folks who prefer kitchen table polyamory want to know their metamours and be friends with them. They may want their kids and their metamour’s kids to spend time together, or their metamour’s other partners to be comfortable calling them up to plan a surprise party together.
LDR (initialism): See long-distance relationship.
LONG-DISTANCE RELATIONSHIP (LDR): A relationship in which the people involved do not live together, and are separated by great distances; as, for example partners who live in different cities, in different states, or even in different countries.
LOVESTYLE: Type of intimate relationship, sexual and/or romantic; ‘lovestyle’ is used routinely in the Black & Poly ™ community.
See relationship orientation. Usage: Most common in New Age or tantra communities, according to the More Than Two glossary.
MARRIAGE: A relationship, most commonly between one man and one woman in Western countries, which is sanctioned by the State and/or by a religious institution and which confers upon its members certain social and economic conditions, typically including rights of joint property ownership, rights of inheritance and of decision-making in legal and medical matters, and certain legal rights and responsibilities concerning mutual child rearing. These rights and responsibilities have varied over time and today vary from place to place, but common to all of them is the expectation that people who are married are in a legally recognized, financially entwined, committed relationship which is not trivial to separate. Traditionally, marriages in most Western countries carry with them expectations of sexual and emotional monogamy. See related closed marriage, open marriage, group marriage, polygamy, polygyny,polyandry.
METAMOUR: (Literally, meta with; about + amor love): The partner of one’s partner, with whom one does not share a direct sexual or loving relationship. See related vee.
MONOGAMISH: Colloquial A relationship which is not necessarily sexually fidelitous, but that differs from polyamory in that the outside sexual relationships are seen as primarily sexual rather than romantic, without necessarily having any expectation of continuity, and are viewed as enhancing the primary couple. See related open marriage. Etymology: The term was coined by columnist Dan Savage to describe committed relationships that still allow some “outside” sexual dalliances.
MONOGAMY: (Literally, mono one + gamos marriage) Formally, the state or practice of having only one wedded spouse. Informally, the state or practice of having only one wedded spouse at a time, or more generally, having only one sexual partner or only one romantic relationship at a time. Monogamous: of or related to the practice of monogamy, as in monogamous relationship: a relationship permitting one and only one romantic or sexual partner. Contrast polyamory, polygamy, polygyny, polyandry; See related closed marriage, serial monogamy.
MONO/POLY: Colloquial; see poly/mono
NESTING OR NESTING RELATIONSHIP: A nesting relationship means about the same as “primary” (the more common usage) – two or more people living together and building a closely shared life. This is preferable to some, to avoid the “ranking” implication. This leads to the obvious alternative of a non-nesting relationship (sometimes called secondary).
NESTING PARTNER: someone with whom you cohabit intimately, but with whom you do not engage in common “relationship escalator” behaviors (progression to marriage, blending finances, identifying as a “couple”, shared-bedroom cohabitation, etc.), poly-hierarchy or couple-centrism. It’s a way of indicating a cohabiting partnership, while also indicating you do not engage in constructs that are often assumed of cohabiting lovers/partners.
NEW RELATIONSHIP ENERGY (NRE): A strong, almost giddy feeling of excitement and infatuation common in the beginning of any new romantic relationship. Often following the beginning of a relationship (as opposed to desire for a relationship), and can last as long as several years. Contrast old/existing relationship energy. Commentary: Some researchers believe that new relationship energy is the result of the hormones oxytocin and vasopressin, which are released by the brain during the start of a new relationship and after a mother gives birth and are believed to have a role in emotional bonding and in the feelings of happiness and well-being that often accompany the start of a new relationship.
NOETISEXUAL: (noun) “Noetisexual — It’s a mental attraction rather than a purely “intellectual” one. It’s loving the shape of their mental landscape and wanting to explore it. It’s falling in love with the way they think, their unique mental make up. It’s loving their creativity, their ingenuity, their silliness, their humor, their emotional intelligence, the way they use words, or the way they make mental space for you in their minds, and more.
“It’s being attracted to the way their minds work — not how their brain functions — rather than simply one ill-defined facet of it. Noeti can serve as a prefix in itself: noetisexual, noetiromantic, noetisensual, etc. Noetilinking,the general experience, is not a sexuality per se; it can be a type of attraction like sensual or emotional are types.” – Michon Neal
NRE (initialism): See new relationship energy.
NRE JUNKIE: (Colloquial; usually derogatory) A term sometimes applied, often dismissively, to a person who starts many new relationships in rapid succession but does not seem to maintain relationships for very long. Such a person may appear to seek out the euphoria and intense emotion associated with new relationship energy over the maintenance of a long-term relationship. Commentary: Some psychologists and psychiatrists believe that the intensity and euphoria associated with new relationship energy can be psychologically addictive; in the psychiatric community, the term “love addiction” is sometimes used to describe this behavior.
OLD RELATIONSHIP ENERGY (ORE), also Existing Relationship Energy (ERE) : The feeling of comfort, security, and stability often associated with a long-standing romantic relationship. Contrast new relationship energy.
ONE PENIS POLICY: (OPP) An arrangement within a polyamorous relationship in which a man is allowed to have multiple female partners, each of whom is allowed to have sex with other women but forbidden to have any other male partners. Commentary: Its hypothetical opposite, a “one vagina policy” in which a woman has a group of male partners who are each forbidden to have other female lovers, seems so rare as to be theoretical; I’ve never seen or heard of a real-life example of such a relationship.
OPEN MARRIAGE: Any marriage whose structures or arrangements permit one or both of the members involved to have outside sexual relationships, outside romantic relationships, or both. The term open marriage is a catchall for marriages which are not emotionally or sexually monogamous; and may include such activities as polyamory or swinging. Contrast closed marriage; See related group marriage. Commentary: The term “open marriage” is sometimes used as a synonym for polyamory, though this is not necessarily the case; some relationships may be open but not polyamorous (as in some swinging relationships which explicitly ban emotional entanglement with anyone outside the relationship), and some relationships may be polyamorous but not open (as in polyfidelitious relationships).
OPEN RELATIONSHIP: 1. Any relationship that is not sexually monogamous. 2. Any relationship that permits “outside” sexual entanglements, but not loving or romantic relationships. Commentary: Some folks use the term open relationship as a synonym for polyamory. To other people, the term excludes polyamory, and is used specifically to describe relationships which are sexually non-monogamous but which still expect that the people involved will not fall in love or engage in romantic relationships outside the couple, as for example with many swinging relationships. It’s important to be careful when using this term, as it may carry very different connotations for different people.
ORE (initialism): See old relationship energy.
OTHER SIGNIFICANT OTHER (OSO): 1. A partner’s other partner; metamour. 2. A person’s partner, sometimes but not always a non-primary or non-spouse partner; as, Bob is my husband, and Joe is my other significant other.
OSO (initialism): See other significant other.
OPP (initialism): See one penis policy.
PANSEXUAL: Usage: In some communities, particularly some parts of the lesbian and gay community, antipathy toward or hostility to people who self-identify as bisexual has become common. The term pansexual has started to become popular as a synonym for bisexual but without the negative connotations of the word.
PARALLEL POLYAMORY: is a companion term to kitchen table polyamory. It refers to poly relationships where the relationships run in parallel and don’t interact. I’m in a relationship with you, and you are in a relationship with your other partner, but the two of us aren’t friends and may never meet. Our two separate relationships progress without connecting to each other. (From http://PolyamoryonPurpose.com/, August 4, 2016)
PERSON OF COLOR, (plural: PEOPLE OF COLOR), POC: a person who is not white or of European heritage; a term used mainly in the United States to describe any person who is not white. From Wikipedia: the term encompasses all non-white people, emphasizing common experiences of systemic racism. See also: https://www.npr.org/sections/codeswitch/2014/03/30/295931070/the-journey-from-colored-to-minorities-to-people-of-color
PIVOT: Colloquial In a vee relationship, the person who has two partners.
PLURAL MARRIAGE: See polygamy.
POLY: Colloquial Of or related to polyamory; as, a poly relationship, a poly person.
POLYAMORY: (Literally, poly many + amor love) The state or practice of maintaining multiple romantic relationships simultaneously, with the full knowledge and consent of all the people involved. Polyamorous: of or related to the practice of polyamory, as in polyamorous relationship: a relationship involving more than two people, or open to involvement by more than two people; polyamorous person: a person who prefers or is open to romantic relationships with more than one partner simultaneously. Contrast monogamy; See related polyfidelity, triad, quad, vee, N, polygamy, polygyny, polyandry, swinging, monogamy. A person may have no spouse or only one spouse and still be polyamorous. Many people use the term “polyamory” to describe only those relationships in which a person has multiple loving partners; some people have extended the term to include relationships in which a person has multiple sexual partners regardless of the emotional component or degree of commitment between them, though this meaning was not a part of Morning Glory Zell’s original intent for the word. In 1992, when the editors of the Oxford English Dictionary contacted Morning Glory Zell to ask for a formal definition and background of the word; part of her response was “The two essential ingredients of the concept of “polyamory” are “more than one” and “loving.” That is, it is expected that the people in such relationships have a loving emotional bond, are involved in each other’s lives multi-dimensionally, and care for each other. This term is not intended to apply to merely casual recreational sex, anonymous orgies, one-night stands, pick-ups, prostitution, “cheating,” serial monogamy, or the popular definition of swinging as “mate-swapping” parties.”
POLYANDRY: (Literally, poly many + andros man) The state or practice of having multiple wedded husbands at the same time. Contrast monogamy; see related polygamy, polygyny, bigamy.
POLYFI: Colloquial; see polyfidelity.
POLYFIDELITY: (Literally, poly many + fidelitas faithfulness) A romantic or sexual relationship which involves more than two people, but which does not permit the members of that relationship to seek additional partners outside the relationship, at least without the approval and consent of all the existing members. Some polyfidelitous relationships may have a mechanism which permits adding new members to the relationship with mutual agreement and consent of the existing members; others may not permit any new members under any circumstances. Etymology: The term polyfidelity was coined by the Kerista Commune.
POLYFUCKERY: (Colloquial; vulgar; often derogatory) A coarse term sometimes used to describe people who call themselves “polyamorous” while engaging in a large number of sexual relationships which are short-lived or not emotionally intimate; as Bob practices polyfuckery. Almost always indicates derision of the activity or person so named. Usage: Almost always used only of people who self-describe as ‘polyamorous;’ not used to describe, for example, people who identify as swingers. See related polysexual.
POLYGAMY: (Literally, poly many + gamos marriage) The state or practice of having multiple wedded spouses at the same time, regardless of the sex of those spouses. Contrast monogamy; See related polyandry, polygyny, bigamy. Commentary: Polygyny is the most common form of polygamy in most societies which permit multiple spouses. For that reason, many people confuse the two. Some objections to the practice of polyamory–for example, objections based on the perception that polyamorous relationships are inherently disempowering to women–arise from the misperception that polyamory or polygamy are the same thing as polygyny.
POLYGYNY: (Literally, poly many + gynos woman) The state or practice of having multiple wedded wives at the same time. Contrast monogamy; See related polygamy, polyandry, bigamy. Commentary: According to some sociologists, polygynous societies represent the most common form of society, with 850 of the 1170 societies recorded in Murdock’s Ethnographic Atlas being polygynous. Modern Muslim societies are polygynous, and certain religious traditions, including Fundamentalist Mormonism (FLDS) in the United States, advocate polygyny.
POLY MIXED RELATIONSHIP: Colloquial A poly/mono relationship.
POLY/MONO; also, MONO/POLY: Colloquial Of or relating to a relationship between a person who self-identifies as polyamorous and a person who self-identifies as monogamous.
POLY-SATURATED: Colloquial Polyamorous, but not currently open to new relationships or new partners because of the number of existing partners, or because of time constraints which might make new relationships difficult. Contrast polyunsaturated. Usage: Often considered humorous or slightly silly. Seems to be most common primarily in the western United States.
POLYSEXUAL: Colloquial Of or related to relationships which are sexually non–monogamous but which are not emotionally intimate. Usage: Sometimes condescending or derogatory; as Bill is not really polyamorous, but only polysexual. May indicate dismissal or derision of the relationship so named. See related swinging.
POLY-UNSATURATED: (Colloquial) Polyamorous, and currently seeking or open to new partners. Contrast poly-saturated. Usage: Often considered humorous or slightly silly. Seems to be most common primarily in the western United States.
PRIMARY/SECONDARY: A polyamorous relationship structure in which a person has multiple partners who are not equal to one another in terms of interconnection, emotional intensity, intertwinement in practical or financial matters, or power within the relationship. A person in a primary/secondary relationship may have one (or occasionally, more than one) primary partner and one or more additional secondary or tertiary partners. A primary/secondary relationship may be “prescriptive” (that is, a primary couple consciously and deliberately creates a set of rules whereby any additional partners are secondary, often because this is seen as a mechanism which will protect the existing relationship from harm caused by additional relationships) or it may be “descriptive,” and emerge from the nature and the situation of the relationship. See related tertiary, veto. Commentary: In practice, prescriptive primary/secondary relationships may create an environment where the people in those additional relationships feel unappreciated or insignificant, which is why some experienced polyamorous people do not construct their relationships along enforced primary/secondary lines.
PRIMARY: In a primary/secondary relationship, the person (or persons) in the relationship with the highest degree of involvement or entanglement, or sometimes the person accorded the most importance. A person may be primary either as a natural consequence of the circumstance and nature of the relationship (because that person has the greatest degree of financial entanglement, for example), or as a deliberate consequence of the relationship structure and agreements (as in the case of an existing couple who set out to add additional partners only on the condition that those existing partners are seen as “less important” than the couple). See also co- primary; Contrast secondary, tertiary. Commentary: People who deliberately seek to construct a relationship along prescriptive primary/secondary lines typically designate one and only one relationship as the primary relationship. People who do not seek to construct a relationship along prescriptive primary/secondary lines may have more than one primary relationship; a relationship becomes primary when it reaches a certain point of emotional commitment, practical entanglement, or both.
QUAD: A polyamorous relationship involving four people, each of whom may or may not be sexually and emotionally involved with all the other members. See related N.Commentary: One of the most common ways for a quad to form is when two polyamorous couples begin romantic relationships cross-couple.
RELATIONSHIP ANARCHY: A philosophy or practice in which people are seen as free to engage in any relationships they choose, that spontaneity and freedom are desirable and necessary traits in healthy relationships, that no relationship should be entered into or restricted from a sense of duty or obligation, that any relationship choice is (or should be) allowable, and in which there is not necessarily a clear distinction between “partner” and “non-partner.”
RELATIONSHIP ORIENTATION: A preference for sexual or loving relationships of a particular form; as, for example, a preference for relationships which are monogamous, for relationships which are polyfidelitous, for relationships which are polyamorous, and so forth. See related switch (Def. 1). Commentary: Just as some people feel that their sexual orientation is fluid and a matter of choice where other people feel that their sexual orientation is fixed and not subject to choice, so do some people feel that their relationship orientation is subject to choice whereas others feel their relationship orientation is not a matter of choice. It has been my observation that some people seem to be inherently monogamous, and can’t be happy any other way; some people seem to be inherently polyamorous, and can’t be happy any other way; and some people seem to be able, under the right circumstances and with the right partners, to be happy in a monogamous or a polyamorous relationship. (From the More Than Two glossary.)
SAPIOSEXUAL: adjective (of a person) finding intelligence sexually attractive or arousing.”I met a PhD student from Germany who told me that he was sapiosexual or noun a person who finds intelligence sexually attractive or arousing.”I’m a sapiosexual and I like to talk.”
SECONDARY: In a primary/secondary relationship, the person (or persons) in the relationship who, either by intent or by circumstance, have a relationship which is given less in terms of time, energy and priority in a person’s life than a primary relationship, and usually involves fewer ongoing commitments such as plans or financial/legal involvements. A secondary relationship may be secondary as a result of a conscious decision on the part of the primary partners, or simply as a result of circumstance or the natural development of the relationship. See related tertiary.
SECONDARY SIGNIFICANT OTHER: Colloquial A romantic partner other than one’s primary partner or spouse. Usage: Used almost completely within the context of primary/secondary relationships.
SERIAL MONOGAMY: A relationship pattern in which a person has only one sexual or romantic partner at a time, but has multiple sexual or romantic partners in a lifetime, and may change partners frequently. Arguably the most common form of relationship in the United States, serial monogamy is predicated on the idea that a person can love more than one other person romantically in a lifetime, but not at the same time. Contrast polyamory, polygamy, swinging; See related monogamy.
SIGNIFICANT OTHER: (Colloquial) A romantic partner. Usage: The term significant other is intended to be free of assumptions about the gender of that partner. See related other significant other.
SOLO POLY: An approach to polyamory that emphasizes agency and does not seek to engage in relationships that are tightly couple-centric. People who identify as solo poly emphasize autonomy, the freedom to choose their own relationships without seeking permission from others, and flexibility in the form their relationships take. Such people generally don’t want or need relationships that look like traditional couples, and may not, for example, seek to live with a partner (or partners) or combine finances with a partner (or partners).
SPOUSE: A person to whom one is married.
SWINGER: A person who engages in swinging.
SWINGING: The practice of having multiple sexual partners outside of an existing romantic relationship, most often with the understanding that the focus of those relationships is primarily sexual rather than romantic or emotionally intimate. See also friends-first swinging, closed swinging, closed-group swinging, swing club. Commentary: The common perception of swinging is that those who engage in this behavior have sex outside of their existing relationship purely for recreation, and that emotional bonds or emotional intimacy are specifically excluded. This is true in some cases, and in fact some swing clubs specifically prohibit people from carrying on friendships or relationships outside the club. However, in practice swinging is much more nuanced, and people who self-identify as swingers can and sometimes do form close emotional relationships with their partners. Many people in both the swinging and polyamorous communities, though not all, see swinging and polyamory as two ends of a continuum, different in degree of intent, focus, and emphasis on romantic and emotional relationships rather than different in kind.
SWOLLY: Colloquial A person who identifies as both polyamorous and also as a swinger; that is, a person who has multiple simultaneous relationships and also enjoys recreational sex in a swinging context. Etymology: The term was coined by Ken Haslam of the Kinsey Institute.
TRIAD: 1. A polyamorous relationship composed of three people. 2. A union or group of three. Usage: In the sense of Def. 1, generally, the word triad is most often applied to a relationship in which each of the three people is sexually and emotionally involved with all the other members of the triad, as may be the case in a triad consisting of one man and two bisexual women or one woman and two bisexual men; however, it is sometimes also applied to vee relationships.
THROUPLE: see triad. Etymology: A neologism coined by combining “couple” and “three”
UNICORN: Colloquial; Usage: In dominant polyamory culture, almost always used of a hypothetical woman who is willing to date both members of an existing couple, agree not to have any relationships other than the ones with the couple, agree not to be sexually involved with one member of the couple unless the other member of the couple is also there, and/or agree to move in with the couple. So named because people willing to agree to such arrangements are vanishingly rare, whereas couples looking for a woman who will agree to these terms are incredibly common. (Notation: in swinging, a unicorn is, typically, a bisexual female who seeks male/female couples for sex play at swinger parties and privately, choosing to be with both simultaneously (MFF), but beholden to neither as it relates to romantic or sexual fidelity. Source: SpecialKs on swinglifestyle.com)
VEE: Colloquial A polyamorous relationship involving three people, in which one person is romantically or sexually involved with two partners who are not romantically or sexually involved with each other. See also triad, pivot; See related quad, N.
VETO: A relationship agreement, most common in prescriptive primary/secondary relationships, which gives one person the power to end another person’s additional relationships, or in some cases to disallow some specific activity, such as some specific sexual or «BDSM»-related activity. A veto may be absolute, in which one partner may reject another partner’s additional relationships unconditionally, or may be conditional and used more as a way to indicate a serious problem in a relationship. Commentary: Not all polyamorous recognize or permit veto power. Veto is most common in primary/secondary relationship configurations, particularly in relationship configurations where an established couple is seeking additional partners. Veto is typically limited only to the primary partners, and a relationship which grants a veto power to a secondary partner is rare in the extreme.
WOMANISM, WOMANIST: From Alice Walker’s Definition of a “Womanist” from In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens: Womanist Prose Copyright 1983.
1. From womanish. (Opp. of “girlish,” i.e. frivolous, irresponsible, not serious.) A black feminist or feminist of color. From the black folk expression of mothers to female children, “you acting womanish,” i.e., like a woman. Usually referring to outrageous, audacious, courageous or willful behavior. Wanting to know more and in greater depth than is considered “good” for one. Interested in grown up doings. Acting grown up. Being grown up. Interchangeable with another black folk expression: “You trying to be grown.” Responsible. In charge. Serious.
2. Also: A woman who loves other women, sexually and/or nonsexually. Appreciates and prefers women’s culture, women’s emotional flexibility (values tears as natural counterbalance of laughter), and women’s strength. Sometimes loves individual men, sexually and/or nonsexually. Committed to survival and wholeness of entire people, male and female. Not a separatist, except periodically, for health. Traditionally a universalist, as in: “Mama, why are we brown, pink, and yellow, and our cousins are white, beige and black?” Ans. “Well, you know the colored race is just like a flower garden, with every color flower represented.” Traditionally capable, as in: “Mama, I’m walking to Canada and I’m taking you and a bunch of other slaves with me.” Reply: “It wouldn’t be the first time.”
3. Loves music. Loves dance. Loves the moon. Loves the Spirit. Loves love and food and roundness. Loves struggle. Loves the Folk. Loves herself. Regardless.
4. Womanist is to feminist as purple is to lavender.