Knowing How To Define

A tribesman from a hot place points at what you’re wearing. “What is that?”

“A jacket,” you say.

“What is a jacket?” he asks.

What he wants to know is the purpose for which the jacket is used, and so you tell him “It keeps me warm. It protects me from the sun. It is very fashionable.”

A computer compiling information about the world is trying to fill in gaps in knowledge. It scans you and asks “what is that?”

“A jacket,” you say.

“What is a jacket?” the computer asks.

What the computer wants to know is what it matches to most closely in its existing stored knowledge. You tell it, “It is like a trenchcoat, a sweater, a coat, or a hoodie.”

An alien artist is unfamiliar with the structure of your world. It gestures its tendrils at you and asks “what is that?”

“A jacket,” you say.

“What is a jacket?” the alien asks.

What the alien wants to know is what it is that gives rise to the jacket, what the essence of jacketness is. You tell it, “It is a bunch of pieces of fabric stitched together with some thread.”

These are three ways in which a word can be ‘defined’ – the role it plays in the world around it (the up-definition), synonyms (lateral-definition), and the parts which construct the thing (down-definition).

Generally speaking, up-definitions are the most commonly used and the most practical. What we want to know about an object is what we can do with it. The same is applied to concepts – Love is “the thing we have for our children or parents,” surprise is “the thing that happens at a birthday you thought everyone forgot about,” and “existence” is “all this stuff you’re looking at.”

Up-definitions is also one of those things that can ‘feel like’ a satisfactory answer when what you really need is a down-definition. Discussions about morality frequently fall into the up-definition trap, where everybody’s idea of ‘wrong’ is a strictly functional thing, and then people get into conflicts over why different functional ideas are clashing with each other.

I’ve seen a few discussions of free will that also fail to recognize down-definitions; the up definition of free will is something like ‘making decisions independently’ or ‘conscious choices’ – or lateral definitions like “agency” or “my soul.” To ask about a down-definition is to ask about the fabric and thread of free will, about what little bits that idea has been built out of. Generally the down-definition I like the best is “a specific subjective sense”.

Up-definitions are useful, but down-definitions aid in presenting a more cohesive idea of what your mind is doing when it thinks. With some concepts it’s difficult to put any down-definition into words, but paying attention to the feeling of thinking about the concepts can also suffice.

Probably all concepts we use are built out of many smaller concepts, and those built out of smaller still, and oftentimes we forget this so deeply that as soon as we identify an idea like free will, we view it and wield it as a solid unit, and our debates with others feature challenging how our solid units serve functionally in the world around us. It’s like knowing how to swordfight without any knowledge of what swords are made out of – it works just fine, but it’s not holistic, and might one day prevent advancing to an expert level.



The Abyss of Want

disclaimer: this post is very silly and should not be taken seriously if you don’t take it seriously

If you ask the question ‘what do you want,’ and then follow it up with an infinite series of ‘why do you want that’, and ‘well why do you want that?’, it quickly gets murky.

When I took acid, my primary (goal?) activity was learning and fulfilling what I wanted. I realized that I wanted to become more confident. To fulfill this, I had to then realize what I actually wanted was to avoid the pain of rejection. To fulfill this, I had to then realize what I actually wanted was to know myself more. To fulfill this, there was more to know, and more to do, and more to know…
Over time I progressed down each rung of the ladder, shedding bits of myself each step, until I got to what I thought was the bottom. I thought it was the bottom for a long time. It went like this:

“I want nothing. I am nothing. I know nothing. I am no one. I have no attachment, because there is no one to have it. There are no beliefs. There is no difference between what ought to be and what is.”

I had wanted to fulfill my wants. The fulfillment of want meant the abolition of want, for a fulfilled want is no longer a want at all – and such was the floor of the abyss. In full self knowledge, there was nothing else to look for.

I was a mess of contentment. I was nothing, I was dead.

The experience of being dead is a funny thing to think about, because we always substitute something in to serve as a model for ‘death.’ We think about being huddled in a dark room forever, or sleeping, or the loss of everything we loved, or a great cloaked figure with a scythe, or our loved ones who’ve passed – but death isn’t any of these things. As soon as you think about “what death is,” you aren’t thinking about death at all, you’re thinking about an experience that you might have. What “death is” is every experience you are not having, right now, and haven’t before, and will never have again.

Subjective death, by its own definition, is impossible to understand, and that which is definitionally incomprehensible is synonymous with nonexistence.

I’m attempting to explain the reason why the floor of the abyss was not the end. Life is inevitable. The movement away from nothingness is an absolute necessity.

The floor opened up and I fell (because falling was an absolute necessity) to a level that looked familiar. And it was here that I realized that moving away from wanting nothing meant that now I had to want something, because what else is there?

I wanted to feel tension again, answerless and longing. I wanted to unknow what I had learned. I didn’t want to feel the benevolent god of my own watching eye, in all its infinite love, destroying my ability to feel unsatisfied – because being something again meant being unsatisfied.

I was back at the beginning, and it was here I saw that the abyss of want was a circle.

This realization was deeply humbling. A good friend once told me that the very last trap on the path to enlightenment is thinking that you are enlightened, and this has come back to knock me down again and again. The circle brought me right back around to where I had been before, to where everyone else had already been all this time. What I’d ‘truly’ wanted was to feel desire, and everyone else had already been doing it. I felt a little sheepish, that I’d had the audacity to think my chase had been better than anyone else’s. Everyone I’d looked down on, even a little – deeply religious people, shallow people, angry people, ‘overly rational’ people – they were all exactly where I was, desiring things even more than I was. They were the ones who had beaten me to my destination, without even moving.

Enlightenment is a great joke. Enlightenment is nothing at all. I am something now, clinging hard to somethingness, and so I am not enlightened. Neither are you, or any other something in existence; really, you should only try to go get enlightened if you are fond of great jokes.

How Taboo Are These Sexual Fetishes?


click here for full size

The correlation between tabooness and sexual interest was statistically significant at p < 0.01.

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How Men and Women Perceive Relationships Differently

Everything you need to know about my data, how I got it, and what I did with it
Disclaimer: I am a survey and data noob. I know nothing about doing surveys, I just do them and then look at basic correlates.

The data came partially from my own traffic (twitter, tumblr) and partially from my friend Eric’s traffic, redirected from his personality testing website.

I removed all answers that reported not being in a serious relationship, as well as a very small number (<10) of answers that appeared suspiciously inconsistent (e.g., a fundamentalist monogamous trans 65 yo with 3 active partners). This left me with a sample size of 993; about 550 cis women and 396 cis men, with the rest reporting as trans or other. For all gender information I used cis women and men, due to the low trans number. Identified (not birth) gender was used for determining straight/gay relationships.

The data on relationship length was very detailed, and I reduced it to 7 categories of length for most graph purposes – 1 month, 8 months, 1.5 years, 3 years, 6 years, 12 years, and 20+ years. (Categories were “at least” – so someone in a 2 month relationship were categorized as 1 month.)

I also am unsure what numbers are needed to reach significance, so take all discussions about importance with a strong grain of salt. I tried to feel out significance by seeing the correlation between questions I strongly expect to be consistent, and by looking at how strong the correlations are compared to others.

Nearly all questions were asked on a 1 (disagree) – 5 (agree) scale. Assume this unless I clarify otherwise.


I measured 7 different scores, 4 positive and 3 negative. Each score was the average a few similar questions. Expand the score to see exactly which questions contributed.


My relationship makes me happy
I am in love with my partner
My decision to enter into a relationship with my partner was a good one, in hindsight
My relationship brings me emotional stability and security
, Practicality
My relationship brings me practical (in regards to finances or life plans) stability and security
I share the same hobbies with my partner
My partner and I agree on whether or not we want children
I am satisfied with the division of labor in my relationship

*I am least confident about this one, and grouped the questions together afterward

, Priority
Do you consider this relationship to be the most promising, most important, or best relationship you’ve ever had?
My relationship is the most fulfilling thing in my life
My relationship takes priority above everything else
My partner completes me
, and Excitement
My partner causes me to feel butterflies, nervousness, or romantic excitement
I feel thrill and excitement in my relationship
I feel a great deal of passion in my relationship (not including sexual passion)
My relationship brings me entertainment and novelty


I sometimes worry that my partner will leave me for someone better
I am more needy than my partner
I am insecure in my relationship
I feel jealousy or possessiveness
, Badness
My relationship causes me anxiety
My relationship causes me grief or sorrow
I take care of my partner more than my partner takes care of me
I suspect my relationship might not last much longer
I fight with my partner
My partner and I have different values
I have broken up or decided to break up with my partner
I would like to leave my partner
I sometimes wish I had never begun a relationship with my partner
, and Undesirability
I doubt I could find someone else who completes me as much as my partner does
My partner is more desirable (to general society) than I am
My partner could have had chosen to date people who are better (worth more, more desirable) than I am
negative of:I could date someone better (worth more, more desirable) than my partner if I wanted to

I chose to combine these questions for ease of presentation.

Relationship Length

and good things:

The lowest sample size was 31, for men in 20+ year relationships. Sample sizes for 12-20 and 20+ year categories were between 35-45ish per gender, each. 

Everything good decreases over time, with maybe a slight increase between the 12-20 and the 20+ year marks (due to kids leaving the house?)

In hindsight I dislike the practical score and am going to ignore it. It isn’t present in the Men and Women direct comparison graphs.

Men peak in nearly everything at the 3-6 year mark, actually – or maybe it’s just a climb from their sudden drop at the 1.5-3 year period. This is strange to me, especially because women don’t show the same dip-and-climb.

Could this be due to children? Do couples have kids during the 1.5-3 year period, leading to men handling it poorly, thus leaving the relationship before the 3-6 year mark, leaving only the remaining happy men to bring the data back up? Does this indicate that there’s a ‘danger period’ for men, and if they get past it they’re good?

0-3 years, women report higher priority and lower happiness, compared to men. This flips at 3 years in, when men report being less happy and giving the relationship higher priority.

Women report higher excitement overall, with a more stable decline.

And bad things:

Men report much higher undesirability and women report much higher insecurity. Both of these things even out over time, ending up swapped at 20+ years. Is this consistent with the trope that men age better?

Men report higher Badness at early and late stages, with women most unhappy right in the middle. This is relatively close compared to the other two scores.


and good things:


There were very low sample sizes for 5/5 polyamory; only 10 responses for women and 20 or so for men. Interpret the far right side of the graph with skepticism.

I asked people to rate how monogamous or polyamorous they identified, with 1 being monogamous and 5 being polyamorous.

The overall trend seems to indicate that medium-poly relationships do the worst, particularly for men. Full poly relationships beat out full mono relationships on happiness, but come slightly short on excitement and priority.

Women see a similar jump on happiness, but this occurs at 4/5 poly, not the 5/5 poly required for men. Women also don’t have to be as poly as men to report excitement increases, and seem to get total larger excitement boosts from polyamory. They also don’t get the 5/5 poly boost on priority that men do, though again, we’re dealing with low sample sizes here so we don’t know for sure.

It seems that men have a higher poly dedication threshhold to start reaping rewards, while women can be happier at mid-ranges of poly.

and the bad:

It appears polyamory widens the gender insecurity gap, with women getting a slight increase and men a bigger decrease. Polyamory does seem to (be correlated with) lower feelings of undesirability. The Bad score is the coolest, with women peaking at 3/5 and men peaking at 4/5.


and good things

the X axis marked religiousness, with 1 being ‘not religious’ and 3 being ‘very religious.’

Men show generally more positive effects from increased religion, with the strongest difference being the Priority score. The more religious a man is, the more his partner takes importance in his life – by over a half point! Women’s priority remains low and stable regardless of her religiousness.

Nonreligious men are less excited about their relationships than nonreligious women, but this flips for the religious, where men report higher excitement. The same goes for happiness.

So in general, religion has minimal effects on women but strong positive effects on men. I’m really not sure how to interpret this and would love to hear theories in the comments.

and the bad

Turns out religion doesn’t help men’s insecurities that much, with religious men reporting greater insecurity and religious women feeling more secure their heathen counterparts. Very religious women and men report equal insecurity; it’s pretty rare to see that gap closed.

The Bad score sees a slight drop for both, but more pronounced in men. Religious men report a higher sense of undesirability than nonreligious men, with religious women reporting only a slight increase.

So basically, religion might help men with happiness and excitement, but correlates with more insecurity and undesirability, while reducing women’s insecurity.


I also asked about abuse. The Abuse Score consists of the average of questions that asked about physical harm ever and physical harm over the last month, emotional manipulation as a pattern and emotional manipulation recently, and sexual assault.

The more religious a man is, the more likely he is to report both abusing and being abused. Religious women only report being abused more, with a drop in giving abuse (but still not as low as nonreligious women).

Everybody reports being abused more over time. Women report being abused more than men, with an exception in the beginning of the relationship. Do people wait longer to abuse women than men?

Up until 1.5 years, men are more likely than women to report both being abusers and being abused. Women then start to report higher levels of giving and receiving abuse (compared to men), but after this the received abuse stays stable (with women as more abused), and the abuser switches again back to men.

For polyamory, women report a weird sharp decline at 4/5 poly in both abuse given and received, but men stay high in both of these. I don’t know what this means.

Some notes: I haven’t looked at the difference between emotional and physical abuse.

It’s also likely that some groups are more likely to admit abuse than others (e.g., maybe religious people are much more likely to consider and report ‘regular’ things as emotional manipulation). It’s possible that low scores are just people in denial.

Also fascinating is the correlations between self esteem and abuse. The higher reported self esteem, the lower the chance of abuse given and received – until we get to 5/5 self esteem, where we enter Narcissist Land, apparently. 5/5 Self Esteemers report a sharp increase in abuse given, and a slight increase in abuse received.

Self Esteem

Things are pretty even here, but anomalies include the drop in priority score in men between self esteem points 1 and 2. Men who have 1/5 self esteem are much more likely to rate their relationships as most important (with questions like ‘most fulfilling thing in my life, completes me, best relationship I’ve ever had).

Everybody’s scores fall a bit between 4/5 and 5/5 Self Esteem, except for women’s Excitement Score, which keeps going up, while men’s only drop. Weird.

Gender Differences by Question

Scores are differences, marked by who got it higher. Respondents voted on a 1-5 scale; the higher the score, the more they agree.

The first initial is the gender that agreed with the question more. The number is the difference in ratings. The numbers in parentheses are the absolute averaged numbers, by gender.

F I am more needy than my partner: .65 (F 3.19, M 2.54)
M I am polyamorous: .52 (F 1.66, M 2.18)
M My partner is more desirable (to general society) than I am: .51 (F 2.74, M 3.25)
F My partner causes me to feel butterflies, nervousness, or romantic excitement: .32 (F 3.31, M 2.99)
M My partner could have had chosen to date people who are better (worth more, more desirable) than I am: .32 (F 2.83, M 3.15)
F I feel jealousy or possessiveness: .30 (F 2.60, M 2.30)
F I have broken up or decided to break up with my partner: .28 (F 2.27, M 1.99)
F I share the same hobbies with my partner: .25 (F 3.11, M 2.86)
F My partner and I agree on whether we want children: .25 (F 4.13, M 3.88)
F I feel a great deal of passion in our relationship: .24 (F 3.68, M 3.44)
M I take care of my partner more than my partner takes care of me: .22 (F. 2.84, M 3.06)
M I am insecure in my relationship: .21 (F 2.47, M 2.26)
M My partner and I have different values: .21 (F 2.67, M 2.88)
F My relationship causes me anxiety: .16 (F 2.70, M 2.54)
F I am sexually compatible with my partner: .16 (F 3.85, M 3.69)
M I am satisfied with the division of labor in my relationship: .15 (F 3.42, M 3.57
F I feel thrill and excitement in my relationship: .13 (F 3.38, M 3.25)
F I doubt I could find someone else who completes me as much as my partner does: .13 (F 3.41, M 3.28)
M I have performed nonconsensual sexual acts upon my partner: .13 (F 1.10, M 1.23)
F I am in love with my partner: .10 (F 4.23, M 4.13)
F My relationship causes me grief: .10 (F 2.31, M 2.21)
M I intentionally physically and nonconsensually harm my partner: .9 (F 1.15, M 1.24)
F My partner has performed nonconsensual sexual acts upon me: .9 (F 1.28, M 1.19)

The Rest
M Sometimes my partner is emotionally manipulative: .8
F My partner has exhibited a pattern of emotional manipulation in our relationship: .8
M I suspect my relationship might not last: .7
F My relationship makes me happy: .6
M My decision to enter into a relationship with my partner was a good one, in hindsight: .6
M I have exhibited a pattern of emotional manipulation in my relationship: .6
F Our relationship is very sexual: .5
F My relationship brings me emotional stability or security: .4
M I could date someone better (worth more, more desirable) than my partner if I wanted to: .4
F I fight with my partner: .4
F My relationship brings me entertainment and novelty: .3
M Amount of serious partners: .3
F I would like to leave my partner: .3
F I sometimes worry that my partner will leave me for someone better: .3
M My partner completes me: .2
F My relationship is the most fulfilling thing in my life: .1
M Sometimes I am emotionally manipulative: .1
My relationship brings me practical/financial security: 0
My relationship takes priority in my life: 0
My partner has intentionally physically and nonconsensually harmed me: 0
I sometimes I wish I’d never begun the relationship: 0
I have intentionally physically and nonconsensually harmed my partner: 0

In summary, time is not kind. Relationships show an almost universal decrease in everything good the longer they go on.

Poly is hard, and you have to go all the way to make it work – especially for men. Religion is also great, if you’re a man.

Women get more excited and insecure, men feel undesirable.

I’m going to write a blog post with much more conjecture about the differences in how men and women approach relationships. But for now, if you want to see the rest of the individual graphs, check them out here. The “relationship length” is sorted by months, and with slightly different average points.

If you want to look at the data yourself, download here.

Fuckers Vs. Raisers

Disclaimer: Pure conjecture, riddled with a ton of what-ifs – probably none of which are original.

One day in a stereotypical medieval town, a bard comes through.

This is a very sexy bard, violet-eyed, good with a lute, and experienced in the ways of women. During his short stay he sleeps with four of the village wenches, and then bounces off to a new village, to seduce more wenches.

The men in the town don’t know about this, of course, and when one of the wenches gets pregnant, everyone assumes her husband did it. Years later, a new child with violet eyes is running around. Life goes on.

There are two sexual strategies for men – Fucking and Raising. Fuckers, like our friend the Bard, do the ol’ fuck-and-run. Move frequently, shoot seed everywhere, and hope that this results in violet-eyed toddlers getting raised by other men. Raisers, by contrast, shoot seed into comparatively few women and end up raising the children they produce.

A society probably can only tolerate so many Fuckers, because Raisers are doing all of the work. If too many men are Fuckers, the kids will stop getting raised, and then the Fucking sexual strategy loses effectiveness.

Kind of like charity/hospitality/welfare. A society only has so much excess to give to people who take advantage of it.

My question then is why are women attracted to Fuckers? Is there any female advantage to this?

Women are attracted to men who indicate they would help their child survive – and to a woman, only Raisers will help her child survive. Having a child by a Fucker is dangerous – if she doesn’t have a Raiser lined up, then she’s on her own, and historically this is Very Bad News. If she does have a Raiser and he finds out the child isn’t his, again – Very Bad News.

So when the Bard fingers his lute, why do all the women around him sigh?

I think their sighs don’t have anything to do with the fact he’s a Fucker – I think it’s because his traits, if they were present in a Raiser, would be ideal. He’s presenting confidence, skill, and high social standing. If a Raiser like that moved into town, all of the women would be trying to wife themselves at him like crazy. The Bard also is a potential Raiser in the women’s eyes, and he probably has to emphasize that idea in order to get her to sleep with him.

This is maybe where the trope of “guy tells girl he loves her in order to sleep with her” comes from. Women don’t want to fuck Fuckers, but they will fuck Fuckers disguised as Raisers. And when they find out, they usually describe the feeling of “being used.”

This makes me think that women’s sexual strategy involves defending against Fuckers at all costs, and that there are minimal or no evolutionary benefits for women to be charmed by the Bard (beyond maybe getting some fresh gene material into the town?). Fuckers only succeed by disguising themselves as Raisers.

This frames things a lot more in terms of ‘battle’ between the genders. I have held the idea until now that human sexual strategy is a lot more of a complimentary competition, but this seems like it has really disproportionate benefits.

Of course this is very general, and cultural norms are changing. Birth control means that women aren’t threatened by Fuckers, and so Fuckers don’t have to pretend (as much) to be Raisers to get laid anymore. Sleeping with a Fucker who isn’t pretending to be a Raiser has given rise to the new fun sort of relationship called Casual Sex.

Okay I am done writing now but I don’t know how to do a closing paragraph. I don’t really want to learn.

One Day, We Will Make Offensive Jokes

Yesterday, my friend told me an offensive joke. It went like this:

Q: What’s something good about Islam?
A: It encourages Muslims to die.

I laughed. It was a terrible joke, and I laughed.

I’m currently visiting my family, and soon after my friend told the joke, my parents walked into the room. I started to tell them the joke – but stopped.

My parents probably wouldn’t laugh. They might laugh a little, then chastise me – and that scared me. I didn’t want to see my parents not laugh at this joke.

Why? Because my parents really, really hate Islam.

When I was about to travel to Turkey last year, my Dad sat me down and told me all about how Muslims are taught rape is normal and that I need to be very careful because they don’t have morality and that they would be happy to do terrible things to an innocent foreign girl. My parents believe Muslims are the biggest force of Bad in the world right now, that their faith is a disease, and that even moderate liberal Muslims are still dangerous because of their beliefs. My parents speak publicly and write popular articles about the dangers of Islam and terror attacks are a natural and normal cause of regular, everyday Islam.

They probably wouldn’t like the joke – because it was too close to being true. They don’t advocate for actually killing Muslims, but their hostility towards the religion might be misconstrued for it. If they laugh at the joke, people might think they actually do want Muslims to die.

But when I laugh at the joke, nobody is going to think I actually want Muslims to die. I can do it safely – and they can’t.

This is why I feel suspicious of some groups that strongly oppose offensive jokes – they have the suspicion that every person is like my parents – that every human “actually wants” all the terrible things to happen. This is why they believe telling offensive jokes carries weight, and this is why they strongly oppose those offensive jokes. Telling an offensive joke, even privately, isn’t ok, because it “contributes to global racism/sexism/discrimination” – but it can only do that if it’s influencing the people who tell and hear the joke to ‘actually believe it.

According to these groups, nobody can be so far distanced from a bad idea that they can make a joke about it, and that feels like an ugly assumption to me. I personally hope we can get to the point where everybody is comfortable making offensive jokes – but we’re not there yet. People like my parents aren’t there yet.

The Amory Spectrum

In discussions about monogamy and polyamory, I find I’ve recategorized the two ideas into something that feels more functional for me, and I accidentally try to use them synonymously with the original words. This ends up getting pretty messy, so I’m going to do the obvious thing: invent more words and then explain them!

(there’s a good chance someone has already written about this somewhere.)

Presenting: The Uniamory/Multiamory Spectrum

Your position on the Uniamory/Multiamory spectrum depends entirely on how many restrictions you place on your partner’s romantic/sexual behavior. It doesn’t matter what restrictions are placed on you, or what your partner actually does, or what you actually do, or the functional habits in your relationship.

You are uniamorous if you have rules, expectations, or agreements placed on your partner that state they cannot engage in relationships besides you.

You are multiamorous if you have no rules, expectations, or agreements about your partner’s romantic/sexual behavior with people besides yourself.

Remember this is a spectrum, going from lots of rules (no flirting) to medium rules (you can kiss but no sex) to no rules (you can do literally anything you want). For fun I’m going to provide the Amory Spectrum:

  • 0. Exclusively uniamorous; all extrarelationship romantic/sexual expressions are disallowed; no flirting, sexting, nude photos; can include forbidding being alone for too long with other people or ‘leading them on’; usually uncomfortable with watching porn or expressing attraction to others
  • 1. Predominantly uniamorous, only incidentally multiamorous; all obvious extrarelationship romantic/sexual expressions are disallowed, but leniency for flirting or engaging in light touch. Acceptance of expressing attraction to others and porn use.
  • 2. Predominantly uniamorous, but more than incidentally multiamorous. Most extrarelationship romantic/sexual expressions are disallowed, but with strong leniency; can include approval of nude photos, kissing and light petting, or attending sex/nude/kink parties (as a couple, without interacting with others). Most camgirl’s partners fall within this category.
  • 3. Equally multiamorous and uniamorous: Includes swinging, having threesomes, and occasionally allowance of very casual/occasional extrarelationship interactions, but with disallowance of any serious or regular extrarelationship interactions.
  • 4. Predominantly multiamorous, but more than incidentally uniamorous: general extrarelationship romantic/sexual expressions are allowed with several rules, such as strongly enforced relationship hierarchy, and can include regulations of number of partners allowed, the frequency of their interactions, or moderate restrictions on their sexual activities
  • 5. Predominantly multiamorous, only incidentally uniamorous: the majority of extrarelationship romantic/sexual expressions are allowed with few rules; can include light prescriptive hierarchy or minimal regulation of sexual behavior.
  • 6. Exclusively multiamorous: all extrarelationship romantic/sexual expressions are allowed; no rules or requirements are instituted, and no prescriptive hierarchy is instated

Also: rules for the purpose of sexual safety, such as getting tested regularly or using condoms, do not count towards the multiamory spectrum.

If you date someone for twenty years with no rules about what they can or can’t do, but they never actually get involved with anybody else, then you are multiamorous but functionally monogamous.

If you prefer relationships that tend to be functionally monogamous, you can actively search for monogamous partners while both of you remain multiamorous.

If you insist that you and your partner will only love each other forever, that neither of you even experience the desire for others, and you also have rules that your partner can’t act upon desires even if they do have them, then you are both uniamorous and monogamous.

If you have no rules about your partner’s behavior but they have rules about your behavior, then you are multiamorous dating a uniamorous person, in a monogamous relationship.

Uniamory instituted out of fairness does not count; if you are level 6 multiamorous but dating someone who is level 2 uniamorous, and your partner agrees to not take advantage of your level 6 leniency because it wouldn’t be ‘fair,’ and instead acts as though you are level 2 uniamorous too, then this does not make you uniamorous.

Polyamory and uniamory aren’t really compatible, but sometimes you see poly relationships that rank low on the amory spectrum. If you consider yourself poly but are a 3 on the amory scale, then you might be on the uniamorous side of polyamory.

Basically, I think putting “restrictions placed on partner” into a highly defined, separate role to be a strongly illuminating way of looking at relationship structures. Frequently I find people citing monogamous motivations to explain their uniamory implementations (e.g., “We’re level 1 monogamous because neither of us find anybody else to be attractive!”)