Bullshit Infographic of the Week: “The Openness Spectrum”


openness spectrum

This popped up in a friend of a friend’s newsfeed. Anyone notice the problem?

I’m in a polyamorous relationship myself. At the moment, I have a primary partner of 4.5 years, and much more recently, a girlfriend, who is married. Everyone knows about everyone. Everyone’s cool with everyone. Not getting along with my primary is a #1 dealbreaker, because I am in a committed relationship, damnit!

Wanna know a secret?

I’m poly because I don’t like casual sex, because I am not “sexually open” (whatever that means). It’s hard for me, for a number of reasons, to adjust to a new partner, and when I find the rare someone I can actually let my guard down around, I don’t want to give them up just because I already have someone I’m cool with. I don’t want to be afraid to get close to new people just because I might have feelings for them and lose my current relationship. I don’t do that with friends; why would I do that to lovers?

It’s frustrating that infographics that perpetuate these negative myths and stereotypes get dressed up as educational or progressive.

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  1. While I agree that the infographic is wrong on several counts, I don’t see any “negative myths.” It seems to me to be promoting the view that both sexual openness/promiscuity and sexual reserve/selectivity are ok and don’t deserve to be shamed. It’s totally wrong about the link between relationship styles and level of personal promiscuity preference (monogamy as one step up from asexuality, really?), but I don’t see it applying negative attributes to anybody.

    The only way I can read a “negative” myth in there is if you’re upset about being lumped in with the sexually promiscuous people, and feel like that’s a negative association? Which I hope isn’t what you mean. It might be incorrect, but it’s not an insult or a negative association, because there’s nothing wrong with being promiscuous if that’s your thing and you’re honest and responsible about it… right?

    (I’m a little sensitive to this issue because I SO often see poly people of a sexually-reserved mindset throw promiscuous poly people under the bus in a bid for social legitimacy. And I hate it, even though I myself am more towards the reserved end of the spectrum.)

    • I never insinuated there was anything wrong with being promiscuous or that I resented being lumped in with promiscuous people (however promiscuity is defined). But the idea that having multiple partners/identifying as polyamorous means you don’t have a “true emotional connection” with your partner(s) is really offensive and unjustified, just as unjustified as the idea that multiple partners = casual sex or that married = “true emotional connection.”

      The so-called “spectrum” is just another bullshit binary.

  2. I hear ya. I’m a very selective polyamour myself. I tried promiscuity briefly, but it didn’t work for me. There are some very good messages here if you Photoshop the spectrum out of it.

    And it’s totally fair to take offense because we get so many people who assume poly = DTF. And I have friends who have been assaulted due to that exact thinking. It is VERY harmful.

    • Definitely, it’s harmful. But the harm comes in when someone thinks, “Because someone’s into casual sex, they must be sexually available to me and I don’t have to bother with consent,” not when someone thinks, “Because someone’s non-monogamous, they must be into casual sex.”

  3. On the other end of that, I find it odd to clump monogamous people close to asexual, too. Just because a person is monogamous doesn’t mean they aren’t “sexually open.” One can be “sexually open” with one person. Monogamy/polygamy doesn’t say anything in particular about attraction or sexual drive. This infographic is total crap.

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