People in every special interest group have their own lingo that sets them apart. It’s important to have words to express the complex concepts unique to your particular interest. The downside is that this jargon can make the people just learning about or on the fringes of your group feel excluded when they don’t understand this lingo. I don’t think that most people mean to shut out newbies.
Especially when the special interest group is the polyamorous community. Why scare away the fresh meat, um, I mean, prospective partners? I’ve been polyamorous for longer than I’ve known there was a word for it, so it’s cool that there is a vocabulary evolving around the core concepts of polyamory. I didn’t even realize that I’d taken on new words until I tried having a conversation with Joel and some of the words were unfamiliar to him.
So… here are a few words to add to your polyamory dictionary, if they aren’t already there:
Compersion – The simple definition of compersion is that it’s the opposite of jealousy. More directly, compersion is feeling joy for your partner when they are happy with a partner who is not you. Taking pleasure in your partner’s connection with others. However, it is possible to feel both jealousy and compersion at the same time. I tend to feel jealous when some need of mine is not getting met, usually because I haven’t been good about taking care of myself. But I tend to feel compersion all of the time. It’s like love is flowing in all directions and what I give comes back to me.
Metamour – This is your lover’s lover, with whom you do not have a sexual relationship. For me, Melanie, Harold’s wife, is my metamour. I’m not sure whether Melanie’s lover is then also my metamour. That might be pushing the concept too far. I like having the word though. It’s way easier than the long drawn-out explanation.
NRE – Or New Relationship Energy. Surely you are familiar with this feeling- the infatuation of learning someone new. It’s powerful and amazing, and has the potential to drive everyone around you crazy while you act foolish, sappy, and obsessed. But it doesn’t have to be bad for the established partner. Happiness is catching. Increased sex drive benefits everyone. When I fell in love with Harold, I went back and read all of Joel and my emails, poems, and erotic stories we wrote for each other. It was like falling in love with them both.
Polyfidelity – This concept is like group marriage or monogamy with more than two people. Basically, polyfidelity is a group of three of more people who all have equal relationships with each other and agree not to have any relationships (or sex) outside of the group.
Poly Processing – I’m so relieved that there’s a term for this! This is working through all of the intense emotions that complicated relationships tend to bring up. It seems to be necessary to make everything work. Granted, the more people involved, the more processing needed. I recently read, and tend to agree, that you should spend as much time having sex as you do processing. I vote for more sex.
Relationship Configurations – Polyamory comes in a lot of shapes and sizes. There are names to describe some of the more common ones. A triad is an equal relationship between three people. A vee is also three people, but one person has relationships with two different people, who are not involved with each other. A quad is equal relationships between four people, usually not crossing the square diagonally, but that is possible. A zee is a chain of relationships with four people. In reality, there are many ways that poly configurations happen. Our current zee started as a circle of six.
Unicorn – This is the mythical Hot Bi Babe (HBB) that supposedly all couples are looking for. Generally thought to be an attractive, bisexual, woman who will love both partners equally and be content to put their relationship first. There is often a fair amount of chat on this subject anywhere that poly people gather. Joel and I used to discuss getting our own HBB, but then we found something better!
These are just a few words that I’ve come across recently. People are coining new terms all the time. If you have a great word for poly people, let me know!