Charter for Compassion

I originally published this on Google’s Knol quite a while ago. Some have liked what is written here, ailment some have not. I did have a little help with this, allergy so it is not solely my work.Since my original article this has undergone quite a few changes, reorganizations, and additions so it is a little bit different than the original.

This is by no means complete or the end-all-be-all of polyamory tutorials or introductions, since it is such a diverse lifestyle that you could not really hope to encompass it all in one readable page, but this should give you a good starting point from which you can do your own research and form your own opinions. Good luck and enjoy.

Sections

Infinite Heart

Infinite Heart

Dr. Ludwig Lazarus Zamenhof

About Polyamory

This is a broad overview of polyamory from compersion, jealousy, and relationship agreements with a helpful list of references and definitions.

Polyamory: definition

Polyamory (or the more British spelling ‘polyamoury’) is also referred to as ‘responsible non-monogamy’ or just ‘poly’. It is the state of having, or being oriented to having, multiple concurrent intimate relationships with the full knowledge and consent of all concerned.

Polyamory does not necessarily imply that the relationships are sexual, but many times they are. Some poly relationships may be non-sexual (platonic) romances, with an intimate emotional, psychological, and/or intellectual connection beyond what would merely be called “friendship.”

Successful polyamorous relationships generally require a high level of self-awareness, honesty (especially with oneself), introspection, self-security, and communication among all concerned. Polyamory is not for the faint of heart or wussies.

Origin of the Word

The word ‘polyamory‘ is derived from the Greek poly-, ‘many’, and the Latin amor, ‘love’. The word was invented independently in 1990 by Morning Glory Zell-Ravenheart (in the adjectival form ‘poly-amorous’) and in 1992 by Jennifer L. Wesp. (Reference: Polyamory Enters Oxford English Dictionary)

Forms of Polyamory

Poly relationships can take a wide variety of forms. A person may have two lovers who having only passing knowledge of each other, or lovers who are close friends, or lovers who are also romantically and sexually involved with each other (an “equilateral triad”). A married or otherwise life-bonded couple (‘primaries’) may have less-involved relationships with other lovers (‘secondaries’). The commonest poly formation is probably the ‘vee’ (three people with two of them not romantically involved); a vee may be called a “triad” if their lives are deeply intertwined, sex or no. A ‘full’ or ‘equilateral’ triad involves romantic relationships between all three — but the three relationships need not be ‘equal’. In fact, it is a piece of poly wisdom that no two relationships are exactly the same, and trying to force them to be equal is asking for trouble. Larger groups may be ‘quads’ of four with various degrees of interconnectedness, ‘quints’ of five, or ‘intimate networks’ of more people with more complicated geometry.

“The Poly Mantra”

Since the 1980s, and especially since the 1990s, the poly community has grown enormously and shared many hard-won, trial-and-error lessons within the community, both in person and, especially, online. The most often-cited lesson is the so-called poly mantra: “Communicate, communicate, communicate.

A habit of open and honest communication, experience has shown, is almost always required to enable everyone to understand what is going on with each other’s emotions and thoughts — and in the absence of such openness, problems in a poly group are almost guaranteed. Communicating your thoughts and emotions (positive and negative) sooner rather than later helps avert hard feelings and difficult situations, or forces them onto the table. Your partners cannot ‘read your mind‘ and will not ‘just understand or know‘; such romanticized ideals are quickly put aside by successful polyfolks. When a problem arises, be open, honest, calm, and understanding, and all may eventually work itself out. Some poly people and groups hold regular ‘family meetings’ to promote the early airing of nascent problems. If serious problems do not resolve, you might seek the help of a poly-friendly counselor. The books Radical Honesty, Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus, and Nonviolent Communication may help give you perspective and effective communication tools.

Compersion or Frubble

‘Compersion’ (or the British ‘frubble’) is the state of feeling joy at the joy of another loved one, specifically, when applied in the poly context, is when a loved one is relating to another person intimately; such as a husband feeling joy at seeing or knowing that his wife is enjoying time with her new boyfriend.

Compersion is the complete opposite of jealousy. Compersion is a goal to which polyfolk often aspire in order to break negative cultural (and/or evolutionary) programming and increase their satisfaction and happiness in their poly relationships.

See Wikipedia’s Compersion article and A Crazy Little thing Called…

Relationship Agreements

Poly relationships are wide and varied in their form, assumptions, and ideologies. What one person takes for granted and assumes may not be true for the others in the relationship, so many find it useful to form a relationship agreement. These agreements, when done, are generally written, but can be completely oral; many are setup as a relationship contact that is agreed and signed by all so there are no misunderstandings. Relationship Agreements can be a very useful tool, especially to those that are new to poly, to help verbalize and work through their thoughts, assumptions, and ramifications of the agreement, as well as to solidify a joint definition of their relationship and acceptable practices.

It is important to remember that relationships are not static, especially poly relationships where people can come and go as time goes on, and you will need revisit this agreement, and bargain and change the agreement to reflect the change in the relationship and your needs. The document should be a living breathing extension of your relationship changing as much as you change.

The book Pagan Polyamory: Becoming a Tribe of Hearts has some good info on this.

Adultery or Cheating

Polys define cheating as the breaking of an viceral agreement or understanding within the relationship. Most married or bonded couples have an agreement, either explicit or culturally implied, and most times includes not having sex with other people (i.e. sexual exclusivity). Polys have a wide variety of agreements and understandings (which, some believe, are best put in writing in order to prevent later confusion, evasion, or wishful thinking).

In sexual terms, cheating can be defined as engaging in an intimate relationship with an outside person without the consent and/or knowledge of your existing partner(s). This usually involves lying, deceiving, or omission of important facts. Cheating is antithetical to polyamory and is usually is as fatal to it as it would be to any relationship. Polyamory requires informed consent and knowledge from all parties involved — and, experience shows, consistently high integrity overall.

Adultery is a legal term referring to sex with an outside partner while married, and the word normally implies cheating. A more extensive treatise on adultery from the Christian perspective is handled in the book ‘Divine Sex‘ (see below).

Jealousy

Jealousy is the big ‘monster-in-the-closet‘ for many relationships regardless of their form. It is a special issue for polyamory, since participants have to face personal fears and insecurities (the roots of jealousy) that monogamous couple may mostly avoid. The righteousness of feeling jealous is supported by our culture in movies, cultural values, religion, and laws, but jealousy something that is learned and therefore can be unlearned. Many couples battle with it (in and outside of poly), and is a common reason for emotional turmoil and breakups in poly relationships, especially near the beginning. Defeating jealousy in your life may require a tremendous amount of soul searching, introspection, honesty, communication, as well as trust and faith in your relationships and partners.

See below for some sites that deal with this issue.

Marriage

Polyamory, in-and-of-itself, does not assume marriage is the goal or a desired outcome. Polyamory and Marriage, however, are not mutually exclusive either, since they both deal with relationships at various levels.

Polygamy is explicitly a type of marital state involving plural partners, whereas monogamy is explicitly a type of marital state involving single partners and that is it.

Polyamory is referring to an open and honest relationship model involving plural partners.

Polygamy is specific to marriage, whereas Polyamory is not. However, since marriage is a type of relationship and so is polyamory, they can and do meet.

Polyfidelity within polyamory could mirror a ‘traditional’ polygynous (MFFF) or polyandrous (FMMM) marriage exactly. You could have a polyamorous quad (MFMF) that is married polygamously via Group Marriage (polygamy). You could also have a Polygynous Quad (MFFF) that was polyamorous. You could even have a monogamous marriage that was polyamorous or more commonly – just an Open Marriage.

New Relationship Energy (NRE) or Limerence

NRE (resulting from limerence) is the honeymoon phase of the relationship when everything is new and exciting and brain chemicals keep you in a potentially blind emotional high. It typically lasts 6 months to 2 or 3 years. This ‘high‘ can have you doing things that you would not do while in a normal and objective frame of mind. When you are engaging in a new relationship you will want to guard yourself and your relationships from this as best you can. Enjoy the ride, but be careful.

Once the ‘love-struck‘ or ‘blinded-by-love‘ condition wears off some find themselves, in retrospect, having made bad decisions, hurting and neglecting those that they love and have committed themselves to. NRE can be seen as a sort of a not-so-short sickness that one has to deal with and monitor for fear of negatively impacting your other relationships with emotional and love-struck decisions.

See Wikipedia’s articles on New Relationship Energy (NRE) and Limerance.

Swinging

Swinging is not polyamory, and the difference is often a sore spot when poly people are speaking with non-polys about what polyamory is. Swinging is generally recreational sex with little emotional involvement. Swinging is typically done by couples attending special swing venues or parties together. Swinging communities often have rules, explicit or implied, against falling in love with others in your swing group.

Sometimes people who swing tire of sex for its own sake and wish for more personal and intimate connections. Two or more couples who swing together frequently may simply grow to become close life friends and/or desire more. In either case, people may find themselves drifting away from swinging and into the wonderful and challenging world of polyamory.

Conversely, polyamorists can be swingers too, happy to enjoy an occasional no-strings fling at a party or sex club. But the two circles tend to be different in terms of sociology, class, philosophy, and intellectual background. Many polys shun swinging because of negative connotation associated with it. The mainstream attitude is that swinging is wrong and immoral; the mainstream attitude toward polyamory is similar, but polys usually resist being stigmatized as caring only about sex.

A group could be an open triad with a relationship agreement stating that swinging is OK, and one or more of the participants engages in swinging. The triad relationship would still be polyamorous, but the relationship with the outside swinging partners would not necessaily be.

adultery or cheating
see the Adultery or Cheating section
closed
not open to new relationships; see polyfidelity
compersion
see the Compersion section
duogamy
a newer term I encountered that refers to a bisexual person maintaining relationships with 1 person of each gender with the belief that if the 2 relationships are with people of different genders and are mongamous with respect to the specific genders, then it is still ‘monogamy’. This might be kind of a transitional label or used to specifically deny or avoid the polyamorous label while still respecting their choice for a plural partner arrangement.
dyad
an intimate committed relationship with two people
golden unicorn
slang term for the bisexual female that is generally desired as a intimate and/or sexual partner for both members of a Dyad, most likely with the intent to form a Triad. In most cases this is for an established MF Dyad whose female is also bisexual.
group marriage
a subset of polygamy
a general term which refers to a marriage which includes more than one person of each gender. While polygamy, in current contexts. tends to have connotations that assume a main spouse of one gender and then multiple spouses of the other gender as in polyandry and polygygy (see below); group marriage generally connotates a marriage which includes more than one person of each gender which may be further defined as open or cloaed, etc…
HBB
and acronym meaning ‘Hot Bi(sexual) Babe’; see Golden Unicorn
limerance
see the New Relationship Energy (NRE) section
monamorous
loving only one other person
monogamy
marrying only one other person
new relationship energy (NRE)
see the New Relationship Energy (NRE) section
open
an relationship formation that is open to intimacy from outside their primaries, such as an Open Dyad
open marriage
a marriage in which the spouses have agreed to have intimate partners outside their marriage
pod
within polyamory a pod has been described as ‘a committed network of lifelong intimate friends’. More generally a pod is a collection of people who are intimate at varying levels. Some may be permanent parts of each others lives like the primary/secondary arrangements or may be only part of the pod for small parts of times.
polyandry
a subset of polygamy
the state of a woman having more than one husband
polyandry, fraternal
a subset of polygamy
the state of a woman having more than one husband that are brothers related by blood
statistically, this is commonly the most successful form of polyandry
polyfidelity
polyfi‘ for short
a relationship with multiple committed partners that is closed to new intimate relationships
polygamy
the state of having more than one spouse
polygyny
a subset of polygamy
the state of a man having more than one wife
polygyny, sororal
a subset of polygamy
the state of a man having more than one wife that are sisters related by blood
statistically, this is commonly the most successful form of polygyny
primary
Refers to the most committed relationships, which are also most likely the most important relationships such as a husband, wife, life partner, or others whom a person has committed relationship with. The most time and energy is spent with a person’s primaries. Some do not like this terminology, but others find it fitting and precise.
quad
an intimate committed relationship with four people
romantic myths
Romantic socio-cultural beliefs that when stoically held onto may potentially hinder a person’s ability to find happiness in relationships. Their belief in these myths, may have them holding out for an impossible romantic ideal for a future partner or have unrealistic expectation for their current partners. Western Romantic Myths tend to reinforce the starvation model of love as well.
see starvation model of love and ‘the one’ for more information; there are links below on this topic
secondary
Refers to relationships that are secondary in importance, time, and/or resources, etc to their primary relationships, such as new girlfriend or long term casual long distance love. Some do not like this terminology, but others find it fitting and precise.
see: Successful Secondaries, Taking Care of Secondaries from Xero Mag
scarcity model of love
starvation model of love
starvation economy of love
Believing that love is limited and that if I love this one person romantically then I cannot love another romantically without loving less or not loving the first person. Love is limited and therefore I can only romantically love one person at a time. This seems to be at odds with our ability to love more than one parent, child, friend, etc. This phenomenon is greatly fed by the romantic myth of the ‘the one’ or ‘your one true love’, as well as by movies, literature, and our conservative laws and social views.
sex negative
The pervailing attitude of Western culture finds sexuality and all things sexual negative, sinful, guilt ridden, and distasteful. Sexuality is not something to open about or to enjoy, since it is only for species perpetuation – reproduction. It is something to be repressed and ignored unless necessary.
see Wikipedia’s article on Sex Negativity
sex positive
Sex positive people see their sexuality as a natural part of who we are and not afraid of or ashamed of enjoying it, or taking responsibility for their own satisfaction.
see Wikipedia’s article on the Sex Positive Movement or The Language of Sex Positivity (The Electronic Journal of Human Sexuality)
sexual dimorphism
Sexual Dimorphism is term from biology that refers to the size difference in the genders of a species. Studies have shown that there is a direct correlation between the level of sexual dimorphism in a species to the level of monogamousness of a species. The greater the size difference the less monogamous a species is.
sexual monogamy
This comes from the world of biology and refers to the state of a creature that maintains a sexually monogamous relationship with one another mate, but this does not assume social monogamy. Generally a creature that is sexually monogamous will also be socially monogamous other wise there will not be much reproductive benefit.
social monogamy
This comes from the world of biology and refers to the state of a creature that concentrates on acquiring food, shelter, defense, etc for only one other mate. A socially monogamous creature can can be does not also have to be sexual monogamous. Socially monogamous creatures are often sexually polygamous (seeking sexual partners outside their primary partner). There is only a small percentage of creatures that are mostly socially and sexually monogamous.
squick
a psychological source of discomfort (see wickionary’s definition)
swinging
see the Swinging section
‘the one’
‘the one true love’
‘you complete me’
This view assumes that as soon as you have met ‘the one’ that you cannot and will not love another, and that you will need no one or anything else because this one person will fulfill you in all ways. You will also find no other people physically, sexually, intellectually, or emotionally attractive or desireable. This is one of the most destructive romantic myths in Western culture by putting the responsibility for your happiness in someone else, and not yourself.
triad
an intimate committed relationship with three people
tribe
intimate network
pod
a set of words to describe the collection of poly and/or potentially non-poly people having relationships with poly people. Each word has its own set of connotations and nuances depending on the group.
trouple
A trouple is 3 people involved in a romantic relationship; whereas two people in a romantic relationship are referred to as a ‘couple’. a dyad that is dating a third would be referred to as a trouple.
v
a relationship form where there is a single person (at the V’s hinge) to which both other members are sexually intimate with and are not intimate with each other, which is a typical formation for a FMF or MFM triad

References and Resources

Articles (Individual)

Audio and Video

Books

Discussion Groups, Meetings, Mailing Lists

Many of the sites mentioned through out this article have forums as well. You will most likely want to search for a group that is local to you as well. Many major cities have poly lists, meetings, and support groups.

Sites, Organizations, and Professionals

OK, Sildenafil
so as many of you already know Tanya gave birth to our Daughter via C-Section on June 30th after 24 hours of not-very-fun and quite painful labor. I am going to write in more detail than you probably really want to know about this, resuscitation
but here it is. Better 4months after the fact than never! =O =)

Labor Starting (Monday, June 29th, 2009)

16:00
On Monday, Tanya called me at about 16:00 (4:00pm) saying that she thinks that she is starting to have contractions, and I will mention that in our previous doctor visit the week before Tanya was about 1.5 cm dilated already. We were told that women can be dilated at 1.5cm for weeks before giving birth and I said oh, no this is happening soon. I recommended that Tanya finish getting the Birthing Bag finished and we will see what happens after I get home at 17:00 (5:00pm).
17:00
I came home and I worked with Tanya on our thoughts about her contractions and if we should go. I also timed the contractions. She called our friend Laura, who was a pro at this. She has two beautiful children and a level head. Laura has been a great helping us in dealing with this process – advice, baby clothes, and all. Laura arrives at about 19:00
19:00
Laura arrives
20:15
3-5 min apart @ 30-40 seconds

Recorded Contraction Times
Start Time End Time Duration (sec) Between (min)
Start Time End Time Length Between
17:56:10 15:56:43 33 sec
18:00:53 18:01:17 20 sec 4
18:07:35 18:08:12 47 sec 6
18:19:30 18:20:01 30 sec 11
18:24:53 18:25:35 38 sec 4
18:36:47 18:37:13 26 sec 11
19:21:34 19:22:00 26 sec
19:25:39 18:26:17 37 sec 3
19:30:50 19:31:30 40 sec 4
19:34:26 19:34:46 20 sec 3
19:36:47 19:37:34 45 sec 2
19:38:00 19:38:28 28 sec 0.5
19:41:38 19:42:30 50 sec 3
19:45:24 19:45:58 33 sec 3
19:47:09 19:47:41 30 sec 1
19:51:33 19:52:08 35 sec 4
19:54:48 19:55:34 40 sec 2
19:58:19 19:58:46 26 sec 3
20:02:33 20:03:16 45 sec 3
20:07:39 20:08:22 40 sec 4
20:10:30 20:11:00 30 sec 2
20:12:15 1

During this time Laura is working with Tanya to help ease the contraction pain and do as I can. Tanya is breathing deeply and grunting and whimpering lightly through the frequent contractions. By 20:15 Tanya has had enough and we all pack up and go to the hospital. I call my parents and let them know. They say they will be to the hospital in a little bit.

The weather was a little misty or a very light rain. On our way there we saw a rainbow. Tanya is the one who noticed it through the breathing amazingly enough.

20:35
We get there and the nurses take her to a room and hook her up to the heartbeat monitor and something else, as well as start to check her out. She is still at 1.5 cm so not much has changed there. Since things were still early they gave us the choice to stay or go home and hopefully get some sleep in our own bed, which will be more comfortable. It could easily be early or late in the next day before things really start to get going. So, we left to hopeful

21:00 left hospital

11:40 returned

01:40 4cm

About 02:00 she was finally dilated to 4cm and she was more than ready for the epidural.

03:20 she finally received the epidural. Slept throught the night until about 09:00

03:20 Epidural

05:00 5cm

08:50 9cm
OK, neurologist
so as many of you already know Tanya gave birth to our Daughter via C-Section on June 30th after 24 hours of not-very-fun and quite painful labor. I am going to write in more detail than you probably really want to know about this, store but here it is. Better 4months after the fact than never! =O =)

Labor Starting (Monday, website like this
June 29th, 2009)

16:00
On Monday, Tanya called me at about 16:00 (4:00pm) saying that she thinks that she is starting to have contractions, and I will mention that in our previous doctor visit the week before Tanya was about 1.5 cm dilated already. We were told that women can be dilated at 1.5cm for weeks before giving birth and I said oh, no this is happening soon. I recommended that Tanya finish getting the Birthing Bag finished and we will see what happens after I get home at 17:00 (5:00pm).
17:00
I came home and I worked with Tanya on our thoughts about her contractions and if we should go. I also timed the contractions. She called our friend Laura, who was a pro at this. She has two beautiful children and a level head. Laura has been a great helping us in dealing with this process – advice, baby clothes, and all. Laura arrives at about 19:00
19:00
Laura arrives
20:15
3-5 min apart @ 30-40 seconds

Recorded Contraction Times
Start Time End Time Duration (sec) Between (min)
Start Time End Time Length Between
17:56:10 15:56:43 33 sec
18:00:53 18:01:17 20 sec 4
18:07:35 18:08:12 47 sec 6
18:19:30 18:20:01 30 sec 11
18:24:53 18:25:35 38 sec 4
18:36:47 18:37:13 26 sec 11
19:21:34 19:22:00 26 sec
19:25:39 18:26:17 37 sec 3
19:30:50 19:31:30 40 sec 4
19:34:26 19:34:46 20 sec 3
19:36:47 19:37:34 45 sec 2
19:38:00 19:38:28 28 sec 0.5
19:41:38 19:42:30 50 sec 3
19:45:24 19:45:58 33 sec 3
19:47:09 19:47:41 30 sec 1
19:51:33 19:52:08 35 sec 4
19:54:48 19:55:34 40 sec 2
19:58:19 19:58:46 26 sec 3
20:02:33 20:03:16 45 sec 3
20:07:39 20:08:22 40 sec 4
20:10:30 20:11:00 30 sec 2
20:12:15 1

During this time Laura is working with Tanya to help ease the contraction pain and do as I can. Tanya is breathing deeply and grunting and whimpering lightly through the frequent contractions. By 20:15 Tanya has had enough and we all pack up and go to the hospital. I call my parents and let them know. They say they will be to the hospital in a little bit.

The weather was a little misty or a very light rain. On our way there we saw a rainbow. Tanya is the one who noticed it through the breathing amazingly enough.

20:35
We get there and the nurses take her to a room and hook her up to the heartbeat monitor and something else, as well as start to check her out. She is still at 1.5 cm so not much has changed there. Since things were still early they gave us the choice to stay or go home and hopefully get some sleep in our own bed, which will be more comfortable. It could easily be early or late in the next day before things really start to get going.

21:00 left hospital

So, we left to the comfort of our own home
23:40
returned
01:40
4cm
~02:00
she was finally dilated to 4cm and she was more than ready for the epidural.
03:20
she finally received the epidural. Slept throught the night until about 09:00
03:20
Epidural
05:00
5cm
08:50
9cm

Karen Armstrong, try
a former nun, sickness gave her speech called A Charter for Compassion (TED)” to Ted Talks on Feb 2009. I watched this speech and it is quite inspiring. This speech was given as her TED Prize Wish for 2009. She now has a website of for it as well: Charter for Compassion

Related TED Talk:Lets Revive the Golden Rule

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One Response
  1. ssiverling says:

    Greetings,

    I think that one should way the results of one’s actions. For example, if often times if a woman get’s pregant and has an abortion she might have regrets about it later on.

    sincerely,

    steve

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