Dating Magazine

Diagrams and Discoveries

By Polysingleish @PolySingleish

Emma is finally back home from her winter vacation. We shared a beautiful evening last weekend, our first sleepover at my place. There was so much to catch up on, I still don’t feel like we have totally caught up. I guess one of the side-effects of being poly is that there will always be a lot happening in your life and the lives of your flovers and friendimates and lovers and partners.

In case it has escaped your notice, I like talking about polyamory a lot. I like examining the different phenomena within poly relationships and dynamics, and I want to enhance my understanding of all the many ways there are to approach being poly. One of the things I absolutely adore about my connection with Emma is that she is incredibly well versed in all of this, and not only can she challenge me intelligently on my preconceptions, she also knows just where to send me for ‘further reading’.

A few months ago, Emma and her partners drew out their ‘polycule’, their molecular-shaped poly network, to the best of their ability. It’s a fascinating exercise to undertake, and I have heard of some poly networks who keep a digital copy on-hand to illustrate to others how they are all connected. It’s a poly family tree, if you like, except that it is a lot more complicated. I suspect it more closely resembles the family tree of the European nobility, with lots of interconnections. Now that I’m officially part of her polycule, Emma asked me to draw out my part of it. Well, easier said than done!

One of the things about being singleish, about not having a primary partner or having any kind of hierarchical relationships, is it becomes tricky to define how people ‘fit’ into your life. There’s a lot of fluidity and changeability. How things are today may not be how they are next week. You really have to find yourself comfortable being in the moment, and knowing that a sexual relationship might pitter back into being just a friendship, or might one day reignite into tumbles under the bedsheets. So how the heck do I define these things into an illustration?

Emma gave me an example of a one to follow, which had categories for connections like “married”, “emotional relationship”, “non-platonic friendship”. I found that this was a little insufficient to summarize the true complexity of the web I find myself within so I had to play with definitions and color coding a bit. Here’s my best attempt:




Who the hell are all these people, you may well ask? Well, I removed names since it seems a document like this could cause a few ripples. Especially as I’m not sure how ‘complete’ it is. I thought I had it done this morning and then showed it to my roommate, Miranda (who is on here too, btw) and she pointed out to me a bunch of connections that were missing. And, there’s likely other connections and partners I don’t know about within this extensive web. It is interesting to note that whilst this polycule stretches from Florida to British Columbia, a vast majority of these folks live within ten minutes drive from one another, in an area I like to call “Polyville”.

First off, as far as I know most of these folks identify as either male or female (to the best of my knowledge) so I have color-coded gender specifics. Then, I decided there had to be a category for New Relationships, as well as established, more long term and/or committed ones: they are significant, even if they are still finding definition. The ‘past relationship’ ones are interesting to examine in terms of understanding the intriguing interpersonal dynamics that might be present at a social gathering- such as when I was out dancing a few nights ago, and at least nine of these people were dancing together. I also wanted to account for the difference between a strictly platonic friendship and the friendships with chemistry that have potential to turn into a ‘something’.


So it is easy, when I look at this, to forgive myself for exploding at poly-researchers as I did this morning.

This guy posted, in one of the groups I’m in on Facebook  a link to a survey on polyamory. Huzzah, thought I, research on Poly by poly people! I went to take a look at the survey, and was immediately disappointed by one of the first questions: Define your relationship.

Wait, hold on. Relationship? As in- only one? I think he’s just missed the whole point! Wait, is this researcher even poly?

I kept reading. The questions were all posed with an assumption of that Polynormative model. You know, boy meets girl, girl and boy get married, girl and boy decide maybe to add in a girlfriend or boyfriend, girl and boy get a showtime documentary made about them. And that’s soooooo not me!

I felt seriously offended and marginalized. I sent the link to the survey to my friend and sister in singleishness Kat who immediately commiserated with me. Where the hell was a survey that we could answer? Why is it that every survey and study on polyamory and non-monogamy starts with the premise that there’s an existing monogamous relationship at the outset that then shifts. What about the countless numbers of people practicing ethical non monogamy who don’t start things out that way?

So I called the researcher on it. In a slew of correspondances through the morning, he argued his case that ‘statistically there are more polynormative people out there’, to which I countered that such a statistic couldn’t be trusted because every survey and study is geared at the polynormative.

Well, I must have said something that made sense. Or maybe it was one of the other folks who was quick off the mark to deliver some cutting feedback. He adjusted the survey and it is now one of the better surveys I have come across. Not perfect, but certainly an improvement. I invite you to go check it out for yourself here.


In the meantime, I feel like I have spent a day obsessing on poly relationship definitions, and haven’t gotten far with anything- other than this delightful, tangled, messy, colourful diagram.

Hrm, maybe I should send this to Showtime. They contacted me a while ago on Facebook looking for interested applicants for a “Major TV show for couples w/other couples/partners”. Couples who swing with other couples- fair enough. But, do they realize they are barely scratching the surface?

What more can I say, but, “there are more things in Heaven and Earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”
And now, I have a diagram to illustrate my point!

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