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VanIsle Poly

Vancouver Island polyamory social & discussion group

Labels and Definitions

Here are some frequently used labels that help us define our relationship structures and the complexities of them. Some folks like labels and some folks don’t. Some folks make up their own.
- Monogamy- the practice of being in a sexual relationship with one other person with sexual exclusivity.
- Serial Monogamy- the practice of being in a sexual relationship with one person at a time with sexual exclusivity and frequent change in partner.
- Marriage – a legal contract for a committed partnership including implied exclusive sexual love, cohabitation, economic, property and childrearing bonds.
- Dyad- a couple or a relationship of two people.
- Open Relationship- a dyad relationship where one or more partners can have other relationships as well as this one.
- Open Marriage - a marriage of two persons that allow for one or both partners to have other lovers.
- Closed/Exclusive Relationship- a relationship of two or more people where they have agreed not to have any other relationships.
- Swinging – recreational sex predominantly for dyads who agree to have sex with other dyads or singles as long as there is no emotional involvement beyond friendship.
- Swapping – a form of swinging in which two or dyads exchange partners for recreational sex most often in the same room at the same time.
- Inclusive Relationship- a group of dyad relationships that have agreed to be involved only with other dyads within the group.
- Triad - most common form of polyamory when three people form a relationship. Technically all partners are sexually involved but a variation of the triad called a Vee occurs when one partner is involved with both of the other two but they in turn are platonically connected and not sexually involved. Most often this relationship is two males and a female in Canada and two females and a male in the US.
- Quad – second most common form of polyamory when two dyads join and members of the one dyad have sexual relationships with members of the other dyad and most often live together.
- Intimate Network or Network of Friends – a group of people who are lovers to varying degrees of intimacy within a social circle – i.e., members of a poly group who date within the group.
- Hierarchical Polyamory- when partners in a polyamory relationship connected by at least one common partner are prioritized by level of commitment, length of the relationship, live-in status and or time allotted. Not a very popular system currently but still much used.
- Primary Relationship- the dyad wherein the partners are live-in, long-term and possibly married, sexually and/or economically bonded.
- Secondary Relationship- the dyad where in the partners do not live together and another primary relationship for at least one of the partners takes priority.
- Tertiary Relationship- a dyad where in the partners view it as friendly but casual and/or temporary and another primary relationship exists having priority.
- Multi-Mate Polyamory- when partners in polyamory relationships connected by at least one common partner are referenced as equal in priority and partners are called “co-primary”, “co-partner” or “co-husband”. This non-hierarchy would be more likely to occur if all parties lived together but does happen with discussion and agreement in other cases. The more popular form currently.
- Group Marriage – a marriage of three or more partners.
- Open Group Marriage – a marriage of three or more partners that is not sexually exclusive and partners may have other lovers.
- Polyfidelity – a group marriage that is sexually exclusive and all partners are primary.
- Line Marriage – a group marriage where the relationship continues in perpetuity as new members are added by mutual consent of existing partners to replace any who leave or die.
- Corporate Marriage – a group marriage that is legally structured and registered as a corporate entity to provide benefits and inheritance options for any property and economic interaction of members.
- Polygamy – the practice of being married to two or more partners at the same time.
i. Polygyny – a form of polygamy where one man has two or more wives at the same time.
ii. Polyandry – a form of polygamy where one woman has two or more husbands at the same time.
- Family - a group of adults and/or children who have primary relationships and commitments and regard themselves as a family.
- Clan - an extended family, including secondary and tertiary relationships, who regard themselves as a clan.
- Tribe/ Poly-cule/Pod – an affiliation of families and clans that share common values, customs, and traditions and regard themselves as a tribe, poly-cule or pod.
- Heteronormative Privilege – this is the idea that there are two distinct and complementary genders which have natural roles and that they are only to have sexual and marital relations of a heterosexual nature. Heterosexuality is seen as normal, proper and the only way.
- NRE - New Relationship Energy – the bouncing off the ceiling happy and giddiness of a new loving relationship. Even better than just fucked woohoo and much more annoying to everyone around you.
- AFLE – Another Fucking Learning Experience – this is what we call the messy stuff in polyamory. When we struggle through the mistakes, miscommunication and misadventures that occur as we learn to interact with other people and most especially as we learn to practice polyamory.
- Veto, Veto Rights – most often about the claimed right of a primary partner to not permit a new love interest of the other primary partner from progressing any further. Use of this “right” most often causes hurt feelings all around. Often the vetoed partner takes the new person underground and does not comply with the veto particularly if NRE is at a high level. Failure to comply can be a deal breaker (see below) and cause termination of one or both of the relationships for the vetoed partner. If they do comply, the veto-ing partner will likely have their very next new love interest choice vetoed. Very messy stuff and not worth using.
- Compersion - a wonderful moment when you realize that your partner being loved and appreciated by someone else is a happy moment for you too. A very cool state of being.
- Safer Sex Agreement – an agreement, often verbal but better in writing, between members of any relationship form. Negotiated items like frequency of testing for sexually transmitted diseases, when condoms, dental dams, etc. are used and with whom any fluid bonding may occur.
- Deal Breaker – a situation or event that is not acceptable to one or more of the partners in a relationship such that it would cause the termination of that relationship. Often breaking a safe sex agreement puts you in that spot.
- Spice – more than one spouse
- Metamour – your lover’s other partner
- Unicorn – formerly a hot bi babe/guy who has a sexual relationship with dyad and is generally sexually exclusive to that couple, living in their home but not always. Called a unicorn because they are about as easy to find as the mythical unicorn.
- Unicorn Hunter – members of a dyad who are so focused on acquiring the above-mentioned hot bi-babe/guy that they become very pushy and make others at poly community functions uncomfortable.
- Cowgirl/Cowboy – a monogamous person who dates a member of a polyamorous relationship and professes to be poly or unsure about poly. Then attempts to lasso the poly person away from the group to a monogamous dyad.
- Solo Poly or Poly Singles - you don’t have to be IN a relationship to be poly. Same as you can be monogamous and not dating anyone or dating without commitment/sex. Solo poly people are poly but not in a poly configuration currently or ever intend to be.
- One Penis Poly – where only the male partner is allowed to have multiple heterosexual partners. The female partners can take on other female partners but if so most often all females have a sexual relationship with the male as well. He is, however, the only penis in the relationship configuration and the women cannot date other men.

(an excerpt from Love Alternatively Expressed- the scoop on practicing polyamory in Canada by Zoe Duff)