Mark A. Mandel Mark_Mandel at DRAGONSYS.COM
Fri Mar 23 16:44:24 UTC 2001

Two friends of mine just sent out the following announcement, posted here
and edited & anonymized by their permission (underline added):

               are pleased to announce
            that we will be getting married

Also, out of respect and support for our gay, lesbian, and
polyfidelitous friends who have been denied the benefits of legal
marriage, it will only be a religious (Jewish) ceremony, not a legal one.

When I asked for this permission, [she] also sent an extract from a
discussion on a different mailing list, which I append, similarly

Woman A:
[She], I'm curious (without being critical, honestly! ;) ) about why you
use "polyfidelitous" rather than "polyamorous" -- I know the difference,
but am not sure why it would be different from a marriage standpoint.

My own off-list reply:
I see polyfidelity as being an exclusive relationship.  Marriages can be
non-exclusive and thus polyamorous.  Marriages of multiple people can even
be non-exclusive.  But my announcement was going to family and friends of
family and I didn't want any one going "oh, [She] and [He] are swingers
and therefore not serious."  That's why I used the term polyfidelitous
instead of polyamorous.  I do think that people who want to make a
lifetime commitment to each other, however they define their relationship,
deserve to have weddings.

[He], in reply to Woman A:
Polyfidelitous basically means you are faithful to more than one person.
It means not being interested in any other relationships though.  It's
basically wanting to be married to more than one person.  Polyamory
doesn't preclude other relationships outside of marriage.

Woman A:
The "basically wanting to be married to more than one person" is part of
the definition I've never heard from anyone else, maybe because I don't
associate wanting to be married to someone with not being interested in
relationships besides that, or those -- I've known married people who
aren't polyfi, and polyfi people who aren't interested in being married to
anyone at all.  So maybe it just comes down to how you define marriage,
and how you define polyfi.

Woman B, in reply to [He]:
So "marriage", in your view, doesn't refer to any kind of non-exclusive
commitment?  [I'm] currently very involved with a very married couple.

[He], in reply to Woman B:
...by the current mores of society at large they aren't keeping the terms
of what is called "marriage" by at least the basis of your involvement
with them.  I'm not saying I agree with this outlook. If the relationship
all of you have is committed and there is no looking for other partners I
would consider it to be polyfidelitous on the range of polyamory spectrum.

Woman B again:
My question is, what if it's very committed but not closed? I'm very
dedicated to the happiness and welfare of my partners, but none of us
consider it an exclusive, polyfidelitous relationship (except insofar as
we have no time for anyone else!). Would you think of a commitment
ceremony that didn't involve "forsaking all others" as marriage?

Man C:
It probably wouldn't fall into the "definition" of polyfidelity, but there
is no reason it shouldn't be concidered a marriage.  You are commiting
yourself to the otehrs in the marriage in the exact same way, and just
because you are saying, "we might like to add to this family in the
future" does not make that commitment or that bond any less.
In my little reality at least.

I think [Man C] said it better than I did.

Woman A:
What's the difference between two people being committed and not looking
for more partners and four people being committed and not looking for more
partners? At some point, the original one or two had to have been looking
for more -- were they *not* married then? And I'd still consider people
such as one of my significant others, who's been married for 16 years, is
*seriously* involved with me, and has other relationships with varying
degrees of commitment (and doesn't rule out more) to be married. Assuming
married = polyfi makes no more sense than assuming marriage = monogamy.

   Mark A. Mandel : Dragon Systems, a Lernout & Hauspie company
          Mark_Mandel at dragonsys.com : Senior Linguist
 320 Nevada St., Newton, MA 02460, USA : http://www.dragonsys.com

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