March 24, 2008
There are a lot of new words and phrases that have grown up around polyamory, the word “polyamory” included. I’d like to define a few, just so that you can keep from getting too lost when I talk.
Primary – Someone’s “most important” partner. This might be a spouse or a more serious boyfriend/girlfriend, and it is generally understood that this person comes first when it comes to dating others. Michael is my primary, and if he needed me, I would gladly cancel a date with any other partner to help him out.
Secondary – Although you can start ranking ALL of your partners, generally in a relationship where there is a primary, all other partners are considered secondary. Some people don’t rank things at all, and there are no “primaries” etc.
Triad – A group relationship in which three people are involved with and dating each of the others. This can be individually (A dates B, A dates C, and B and C date each other) or in a group (A,B and C all date together).
Vee – This is another kind of three person relationship in which two people are dating the same person, but not each other. Becky, Michael and I were in a vee because I was with Michael and so was Becky, but we were not with each other.
Quad – Four people in a group relationship. This can be two couples or pretty much any other combination you can think of. Get creative. There is also a form of quad known as a double-vee. This is generally involving two couples in which everyone dates everyone else EXCEPT the two men, who are straight. This isn’t necessarily the only way to create a double-vee, but it is pretty common.
Soft Swap – In which two couple may switch partners for things like making out and soft play, but actual penetrative intercourse is between primary couples ONLY.
Poly Fidelity – In which a poly unit promises fidelity within the unit. This is like a traditional closed relationship, except with more people.
Fluid Bonded – In which a group of poly people have an open relationship, but only engage in unprotected sex with other members of their fluid bond. Michael and I are fluid bonded (obviously), but he and Becky were not. That was the cause of the Big Fight.
Safer Sex – The use of condoms, dental dams, gloves, and common sense during sex. This is as compared to Safe Sex, which is only possible if your only partner is YOU.
Hope I’ve been helpful, enlightening, or at least entertaining.
P.S. If you have any questions about additional poly terms, please comment and let me know what you would like defined. I’ll be glad to help!