Sexual Informatics: Non-Monogamy Revisited

A while back, I did a graphic of the various overlapping types of non-monogamous relationships. I’ve re-visited that chart, with some revisions and additions, and at zaiah‘s suggestion I’ve added some specific tags to various parts of the graph.

Click for a bigger version. A much, much bigger version.

68 thoughts on “Sexual Informatics: Non-Monogamy Revisited

  1. This is lovely! I really like how you helped define/elaborate on a lot of the edge cases. It is so cool how ideas come to you fully formed, well-illustrated, and perfectly punctuated. 😉

  2. This is lovely! I really like how you helped define/elaborate on a lot of the edge cases. It is so cool how ideas come to you fully formed, well-illustrated, and perfectly punctuated. 😉

  3. I love this, but I’d also love to see a couple x’s in the pink and purple areas that aren’t overlaps with cheating/situational/BDSM/unicorn. As someone in a number of relationships that aren’t defined by any of those constraints, I find it ridiculously hard to explain to people what’s going on/how we work.

    Though I suppose it’s also less reducible to a sound-bite. Hmm. I’ll have to think on that so that I can provide actual constructive suggestions rather than random demands. 😉

  4. I love this, but I’d also love to see a couple x’s in the pink and purple areas that aren’t overlaps with cheating/situational/BDSM/unicorn. As someone in a number of relationships that aren’t defined by any of those constraints, I find it ridiculously hard to explain to people what’s going on/how we work.

    Though I suppose it’s also less reducible to a sound-bite. Hmm. I’ll have to think on that so that I can provide actual constructive suggestions rather than random demands. 😉

  5. Wow. I feel like I should print this off high-quality, laminate the sheet & use it to illustrate future conversations. I have barely enough experience in graphic design & proofing to grasp how much thought & revision must’ve gone into this, with humor & color-coordination on top. Great job!!

    P.S.–If you added a credit line or some sort of © line, I think I’d be serious about the “print it off & laminate it” idea… & it would spread easily among Internet polyfolk as well. ??

    • This as as much a good conversation piece as it is a useful reference for my own thinking about where I do or do not want to be, really.

      The credit line is a good idea as I suspect it may spread anyway (I’m about to point a boatload of people to it).

    • He doesn’t edit – well, he fixes typos – he talks about a thing off an on for a while.. asks questions of people in conversation about their point of view and then sits down and creates an entire project out of whole cloth.. in one sitting. It’s kinda amazing. 🙂

      • Wow. Although this particular graphic seems to have grown several limbs & heads since you commented, I just wanted to add: that’s the difference between a good technician (which is what I was) & a graphic artist. I saw others sit down & produce something like that ‘from whole cloth’ when I had to painstakingly work through an idea step by step, layer by layer, with ridiculous numbers of revisions. It’s a gift & a way of seeing which I know enough to appreciate, but not really do myself.

    • Not a bad idea. Eventually, all the Sexual Informatics posts are going to end up on a new section of my Web site, and when they do, I may add links to printable versions.

  6. Wow. I feel like I should print this off high-quality, laminate the sheet & use it to illustrate future conversations. I have barely enough experience in graphic design & proofing to grasp how much thought & revision must’ve gone into this, with humor & color-coordination on top. Great job!!

    P.S.–If you added a credit line or some sort of © line, I think I’d be serious about the “print it off & laminate it” idea… & it would spread easily among Internet polyfolk as well. ??

  7. You’re welcome. It’s mainly due to the proofreading I did for my mother’s book a couple of weeks ago, all 300 pages (including end notes and bibliography) of it. I was in practice.

  8. The little comments make it SO much more fun — and they really do provide capsule illustrations of some of the different subtypes.

    I also wouldn’t mind seeing a few non-edge-area comments (“Intimate Network”/”Triad”/”Vee”/”N/W/other open-ended shape”) for “polyamorous relationships” and “open relationships,” but I think they’re a lot less *necessary* than the ones you picked, which can be harder to nail down without an example.

    — A 🙂

  9. The little comments make it SO much more fun — and they really do provide capsule illustrations of some of the different subtypes.

    I also wouldn’t mind seeing a few non-edge-area comments (“Intimate Network”/”Triad”/”Vee”/”N/W/other open-ended shape”) for “polyamorous relationships” and “open relationships,” but I think they’re a lot less *necessary* than the ones you picked, which can be harder to nail down without an example.

    — A 🙂

  10. This as as much a good conversation piece as it is a useful reference for my own thinking about where I do or do not want to be, really.

    The credit line is a good idea as I suspect it may spread anyway (I’m about to point a boatload of people to it).

  11. He doesn’t edit – well, he fixes typos – he talks about a thing off an on for a while.. asks questions of people in conversation about their point of view and then sits down and creates an entire project out of whole cloth.. in one sitting. It’s kinda amazing. 🙂

  12. This is such a great illustration of the blurry lines between different types of open lifestyles. And it also shows just how much there isn’t really a norm, when it comes down to sexuality.

    Hey, by the way, my husband and I are traveling through Portland in the next few weeks. We’re making various stops for things like weddings, parties, and a visit to an alpaca ranch. I’d love to meet you in person, if you’d be up for coffee or such?

  13. This is such a great illustration of the blurry lines between different types of open lifestyles. And it also shows just how much there isn’t really a norm, when it comes down to sexuality.

    Hey, by the way, my husband and I are traveling through Portland in the next few weeks. We’re making various stops for things like weddings, parties, and a visit to an alpaca ranch. I’d love to meet you in person, if you’d be up for coffee or such?

  14. Any thoughts to offering this in a Cafepress shop or something, where we can buy larger-than-home-printer copies that don’t require you to get a minimum order first & ship them out by hand?

  15. Any thoughts to offering this in a Cafepress shop or something, where we can buy larger-than-home-printer copies that don’t require you to get a minimum order first & ship them out by hand?

  16. Not a bad idea. Eventually, all the Sexual Informatics posts are going to end up on a new section of my Web site, and when they do, I may add links to printable versions.

  17. Is this tagged “stellar nucleosynthesis” for some reason other than that most of the atoms in the participants (and the poster, and everything else) were forged in the hearts of long-dead stars?

    • There’s kind of a story behind that.

      A while ago, a discussion came up in my network about the technical definition of the word “orgy,” which has a lot of connotations attached to it (is it an orgy if there are only three people? Is it an orgy if there are fifteen people but they only have sex with their partners and nobody else?). At last year’s Dragon*Con, my sweetie and her other partner and his wife and their other partners (who are probably reading this and can out themselves if they so desire) decided to have what anyone using any definition of the word, no matter how conservative, would describe as an orgy.

      There were several threesomes as well. During one of those, I used a stainless steel NJoy sex toy on . Stainless steel is mostly iron and nickel, both of which are formed during the process of stellar nucleosynthesis in stars (nickel is one of the end-stage products in most stars). So I was commenting about how glad I was that we are not orbiting a first-generation star, since that meant that the planet had nickel and iron in the crust, and so I was able to own such a sex toy…and, well, ever since then stellar nucleosynthesis” has been a code word for anything involving group sex in my social set.

  18. Is this tagged “stellar nucleosynthesis” for some reason other than that most of the atoms in the participants (and the poster, and everything else) were forged in the hearts of long-dead stars?

  19. There’s kind of a story behind that.

    A while ago, a discussion came up in my network about the technical definition of the word “orgy,” which has a lot of connotations attached to it (is it an orgy if there are only three people? Is it an orgy if there are fifteen people but they only have sex with their partners and nobody else?). At last year’s Dragon*Con, my sweetie and her other partner and his wife and their other partners (who are probably reading this and can out themselves if they so desire) decided to have what anyone using any definition of the word, no matter how conservative, would describe as an orgy.

    There were several threesomes as well. During one of those, I used a stainless steel NJoy sex toy on . Stainless steel is mostly iron and nickel, both of which are formed during the process of stellar nucleosynthesis in stars (nickel is one of the end-stage products in most stars). So I was commenting about how glad I was that we are not orbiting a first-generation star, since that meant that the planet had nickel and iron in the crust, and so I was able to own such a sex toy…and, well, ever since then stellar nucleosynthesis” has been a code word for anything involving group sex in my social set.

  20. Here’s my problems with this chart

    I really want to like this chart as it’s an awesome idea but there are a few glaring odd omissions and (imho) mistakes. first of all “swinging” and “Polyamory” don’t have any quotes at all. It sort of implies like they don’t exist except in the context of other behaviors. Secondly, Play Parties are a subset of BDSM? What? Not at most play parties I’ve been to. Those tend to be more Poly, or Swinger or both. Maybe there will be one room with BDSM stuff but that’s a subset of playparties, not the other way around!

    Lastly, there is NO overlap between swingers and Poly? I think that’s a total myth. There is a huge gray area where they overlap to me. Love to see you update this. It’s genius!

    • Re: Here’s my problems with this chart

      There is supposed to be an overlap between Swinging and Poly; that’s why the Swinging border jogs upward on the right-hand side. I’ve looked at the previous and later versions of the map and realized that the overlap I had intended to be there somehow isn’t there (and surprisingly, only you and noticed!). That’s going to be corrected in the next revision.

      My background is primarily from the BDSM community, where a “play party” is specifically a BDSM event (non-BDSM events are “sex parties” or “swing parties”). Is that not the general usage?

  21. Here’s my problems with this chart

    I really want to like this chart as it’s an awesome idea but there are a few glaring odd omissions and (imho) mistakes. first of all “swinging” and “Polyamory” don’t have any quotes at all. It sort of implies like they don’t exist except in the context of other behaviors. Secondly, Play Parties are a subset of BDSM? What? Not at most play parties I’ve been to. Those tend to be more Poly, or Swinger or both. Maybe there will be one room with BDSM stuff but that’s a subset of playparties, not the other way around!

    Lastly, there is NO overlap between swingers and Poly? I think that’s a total myth. There is a huge gray area where they overlap to me. Love to see you update this. It’s genius!

  22. Yep! I’d love to have some of these as posters to display at the OrlandoPoly meetings! Something better quality than my inkjet printouts on 11 x 8.5

  23. Re: Here’s my problems with this chart

    There is supposed to be an overlap between Swinging and Poly; that’s why the Swinging border jogs upward on the right-hand side. I’ve looked at the previous and later versions of the map and realized that the overlap I had intended to be there somehow isn’t there (and surprisingly, only you and noticed!). That’s going to be corrected in the next revision.

    My background is primarily from the BDSM community, where a “play party” is specifically a BDSM event (non-BDSM events are “sex parties” or “swing parties”). Is that not the general usage?

  24. Wow. Although this particular graphic seems to have grown several limbs & heads since you commented, I just wanted to add: that’s the difference between a good technician (which is what I was) & a graphic artist. I saw others sit down & produce something like that ‘from whole cloth’ when I had to painstakingly work through an idea step by step, layer by layer, with ridiculous numbers of revisions. It’s a gift & a way of seeing which I know enough to appreciate, but not really do myself.

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