Special Cases?: Differing Philosophies on Non-Monogamy

So, some amount of time ago, I was reading one of those ‘rules for non-monogamy’ lists (unfortunately, I’ve been unable to find this particular one again), and one of the points listed was ‘have an exit strategy’. This point was talking about having a plan to end any of your non bounds-primary relationships, to use in the case where your bounds-primary decides that they can’t handle you having that relationship anymore. And, this being one of those times when seeing someone for whom something works differently than it does for me makes me realize the existence of these multiple possibilities, this led me to some thoughts.

In the set of ideas on relationships that is prevalent in our culture at the moment, relationship partners do not have the right to control most elements of each other’s lives. If I don’t like one of my partner’s friends, or if they don’t like one of my hobbies, we can try to discuss this with each other. We can express worries or concerns. We can decide how and whether to address the other’s concerns. If this is a serious enough dislike, we can end up parting over it. But, unless there’s a serious effect on our lives together (my partner’s friend is stealing from us, or I’m neglecting important household responsibilities to engage in my hobby), we do not have the right to expect that because we don’t like this about the other, the other needs to put an end to it.

Sex, similar intimacy, and relationships are the major exception to this. They are a special case. In mainstream ideas, I’m expected to want my partner to not have these things outside of me, they’re expected to want the same of me, and it is accepted that we should abide by each other’s wants in this.

Some kinds of non-monogamy keep these as special case, while having a different idea of what the people involved might want. In this non-monogamy, each partner does not put a blanket veto on the other partner’s outside sex, similar intimacy, and relationships. However, they still have the right to more specific vetoes – ‘don’t go to this restaurant’, ‘don’t do this specific sex act’, ‘all other partners must be approved by me’, etc.

On the other hand, some kinds of non-monogamy do not. In this kind of non-monogamy, I have no more right to tell a partner they can’t date or play with someone else than I do to tell them they can’t play chess with someone else. I can express concerns and expect them to be addressed in some way, and not dismissed. I can share feelings I’m having and we can work through them together. I can, if there’s a situation we cannot come to a mutually acceptable place on, decide to end the relationship. But I do not expect that my desires on my partner’s other sex and relationships should take precedence over theirs, just like I do not expect this for other parts of our lives.

[Note: While I at least currently think that type two is the kind that works best for me, none of this is a value judgment of any kind. Different things work for different people, and as long as there is open communication, consent, etc, whatever works for whoever is totally fine.]


So, I’m reading some polyamory writings, including a bunch of definitions, which led me to a thought on the multiple things that people mean when they use the word ‘primary’ for a partner. Here are three that I’ve encountered (note that they are not mutually exclusive, and a lot of people use ‘primary’ to mean more than one of them at the same time):

  • Some people use ‘primary’ to mean what I use ‘significant-other relationship’ for. So, a centrally important intimate relationship wherein all the partners have such feelings and have agreed that they have such a relationship status.
  • Some people, for instance here, use ‘primary’ to mean ‘building a life together’ and such. I would probably use ‘life partners’ for this.
  • Some people use ‘primary’ to mean people with whom you set rules about each other’s other relationships. I don’t have another word for this, but I think it would be good to have one, because it’s a very particular thing that it’s important to be able to talk about. Until I get a better word, I’m going to be using the term ‘bounds-primary’.

Personally, I don’t use the word primary much myself. If someone asked me if I had a primary/ies, I would say yes, meaning my significant others. I think being life partners with someone, for me, would necessarily also mean being significant others with them. And I don’t have a third-type primary/bounds-primary at all, and don’t really forsee having one, because I have a different relationship philosophy from the one that concept is part of.

Mono, Poly, Etc: a Spectrum

So, I’m currently visiting my best friend (who is also now getting added to the ‘people I am out to’ list), and we were talking about relationships, and this ended up giving me the thought that ‘monongamy’ is another word that actually has multiple meanings. So I ended up thinking of this spectrum. It’s probably missing things, and has other such problems, but it helped me think through this particular thing, and having it out there might also help me think of the other things.

[Note that it is also in no way a value judgment. Different things work for different people, and as long as there is open communication, consent, etc, whatever works for whoever is totally fine.]

  • Absolute monogamy: a person has one significant-other relationship in their entire life. They only have sex and similar intimacy with this person, they and this person build their life together, etc. They and this person dedicate their lives to each other, and that’s it. (Some religious fundamentalists will advocate this one.)
  • Serial monogamy: a person has only one significant-other relationship at a time. While in such a relationship, they only have sex and similar intimacy with this person, they and this person build their life together. However, such a relationship can end, and if it does, the resulting single people may form another such relationship with someone else.
    (Note: this option actually spans a whole part of the spectrum, relating to what an ‘OK ending’ is. So, the most restrictive is ‘if one of the people dies’, and from there it basically goes through the same spectrum as divorce laws, from ‘if one person does something accepted as sufficiently terrible’ to ‘if the people/one of the people just want it to end, for any reason whatsoever’.)
  • Relationships are monogamous: If a person has a significant-other relationship, they only have one at a time, and while in such a relationship, they only have sex and similar intimacy with this person, they and this person build their life together. However, if a person is not in a significant-other relationship, they can have non-significant-other relationships with multiple people, and have sex and similar intimacy with these multiple people. (This is where the ‘we are getting serious, let’s be exclusive’ trope comes from).
  • Open relationships: A person has one significant-other relationship at a time, and they and this person build their life together. However, they can also have other non-significant-other relationships at the same time, and have sex and similar intimacy in all of these relationships.
  • Polyamory: A person can have multiple separate significant-other relationships at the same time.

Additionally, there’s a perpendicular axis for polyfidelitous relationships – moving along that axis, the word ‘monogamy’ in each point is replaced by ‘polyfidelity’, and a significant-other relationship functions the same way as noted in whichever point it fits under, but includes multiple people.

Specific Narrative Kinks: Uniforms

What do I mean by this:

Another one of the pretty self-explanatory ones. Also one of the narrative kinks I have that is an ‘established’ kink where a lot of people recognize it and everything. The actual interesting part for me, and hence the reason for this post, is that I recently figured out I have very specific tastes in uniforms.

How do I like it:

As far as I can see from having run into things about uniform kinks, a lot of people have a thing for ‘shiny’ uniforms – dress uniforms, the medals and polish and fancy hats.

Mine doesn’t work like that.

For the principal, I like utilitarian uniforms. I have guards, soldiers, police, etc. in a lot of my stories, and I want them to be wearing the kind of uniforms that they could effectively fight in (and, more to the point, can effectively beat someone up in). (In a relevant vein, incidentally, I actually don’t like business suits very much).

For the constrict, I have two preferences for two situations.

For the constricts who are going to get beaten up, who are going to get dragged and thrown and curl up on the floor and sob,  (for a more ’emotional’ dynamic) I like rough tunics, usually in light colors. Probably torn in places, fraying at the hems, somewhat dirty, etc. Shorts under tunics work if I’m in a more ‘modern’ world and want less of a sense of not being totally dressed. This style, to me, also carries the mental effect of focusing on the constrict currently ‘in action’, with the others, if they exist, only as vague background.

For the constricts who are in situations more about the constant presence of a power dynamic and interactions within it, and less about pain (for a more ‘stern’ dynamic), I like longer tunic-style jumper dresses on top of long-sleeved shirts, and maybe leggings under. Maybe a head-covering, maybe an apron. This style also carries the mental effect of giving more focus to the ‘background’ constricts as well.

There’s also a bit of an ‘axis’ here – a constrict in a raggedy tunic and leggings, or with something extra on top of the tunic (I’d prefer something loose, with sleeves, and that closes at the front, especially if it doesn’t have any fastenings in front and the constrict has to close it around themselves) is, to me, good to get beaten up, but also carries some of the feeling of the second type (with the leggings giving more of this feeling than the extra top).

Incidentally, the above constrict uniform styles are for girls only. By default, I don’t tend to imagine the clothes for the boys. If I think about it, I generally see long sleeved shirts and pants, but while this is consistent, and other things feel slightly off, it doesn’t really carry any ‘charge’. (The uniform style for the principal, on the other hand, applies to everyone).

Actionable counterpart:

Yes, yes, yes. I’ve done all my scening thus far in larger T-shirts (sometimes on top of shorts and/or leggings) specifically to have the tunic-thing.

I bought myself a khaki jumper and have a bookmarks folder for school uniform jumpers I was looking at online. And if I’m ever doing a scene of the second type (I never have, since due to my very eager masochism, getting hit with things tends to be a very big part of my scenes), I’d love to wear it or something else like it.