If you exist in the realm of alternative relationships/orientations/lifestyles for any amount of time, you will find yourself in many discussions and even arguments about labels and definitions. Simply speaking, my polyamory is not the same as others’ polyamory. And the same goes with many other terms. In general, I am fine with the inexactness of language and think it’s fine and healthy for definitions to be a discussion more than a mandate. I don’t believe in one “twue way”, and I don’t always feel the need to slap a label on every aspect of my identity and every relationship. For me, one of the liberating things about polyamory, is discovering situations that don’t fit the conventions of our heavily monogamy-influenced language and letting them be what they are.
This issue can also cause problems and miscommunication too though. It’s frustrating to find someone who claims to be polyamorous, only to find that their values are completely different from your own. This has happened to me a few times. It also frustrates other people when you aren’t able to explain things adequately and when a situation falls outside of a labelled box.
This topic is brought to you due to a conversation my boyfriend, Jay, and I had the other day about one of my partners (Danny). Danny and I have agreed that our relationship doesn’t have a good label and we are fine with that for now. However, this fact drives Jay crazy. In order to process things properly he would prefer that I define things in simple terms. My difficulty is that my relationship with Danny lies somewhere between what I would consider a “friends with benefits” situation and what i would consider “boyfriend/girlfriend”. At the same time we aren’t what i would consider fuck buddies or dating either. I couldn’t think of other good terms which may describe us
Again this works perfectly fine for Danny and me, but I can see how the ambiguity would be frustrating and confusing for outsiders, and especially for another partner who’s trying to figure out his place in my life. I don’t necessarily know how to solve this dilemma. But I think labels are a web people fall into all the time, so I thought it was an interesting topic to consider.
Have you ever had issues with labels and inexact language? Please share your stories!