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Polycules and Constellations

I call my network of relationships a polycule. This is a portmanteau of polyamory and molecule, and it’s a word that I find to be cute as a button. It has come to my attention that Some Of The World At Large only like to use polycule if they can see neat, defined ends to your network - if no one is actively dating; if you’re a closed little shape; if you really are a molecule, and not even a particularly complicated one. These same People (many of them very bold from being anonymous online) also reject constellation as a term for a group of polyamorous folks, because “it’s not like the stars just grab new ones.”

...I suppose it’s not. It is, however, like polycule, a perfectly serviceable metaphor that they’re insisting on blowing up because change makes them very uncomfortable? Because they’ve taken the idea that polyamory must equal a closed unit of folks all in love with one another from some documentary or other and run with it a little too hard and fast? It seems like something along those lines. It makes me slightly irritated because honestly, they’re nice words and clear metaphors and so much better than people trying to make up portmanteaux with the word couple involved (let me tell you, my network-poly-I-was-only-seeing-one-person-photo getting a “happy holidays to the pentouple!” comment was old as soon as it happened. Never again) and they work even when there is flux. Molecules change naturally when they interact with other molecules. Totally normal to lose one atom here or there and gain another, just as over the years relationships change and so might a polycule.

The killjoys would prefer we always say “Relationship network,” which to me sounds like I’m producing very poor television. I use it sometimes, when I’m being technical. It is a technical term. But just as one could call a pregnant woman and her partner “a mating pair” one wouldn’t, in casual conversation. You’d call them a couple. So, polycule, not relationship network, for me, mostly.


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