More Different than the Same: Customary Characterization of Alternative Relationship Groups and Types

Sandra Mizumoto Posey, Megan Fowler


This essay argues that non-monogamous relationship types exhibit enough continuity, artistry, and variation for the relationship types themselves to be considered folklore (rather than merely folk groups that generate folklore). Across variations, non-monogamous practices share much, including a tendency to both resist and reinforce dominant ideals. In this paper we focus on the ways members of one group perceive another to serve to anchor the definer simultaneously as more in and more out of the mainstream. Participants use their relationship configurations, as well as more common types of folklore such as narrative, costume, and folk speech, to communicate their messages about who they are. Often this message is packaged with an example of another group to demonstrate their proximity to mainstream values either through rebellion or by embracing these values.


polyamory; non-monogamy; swingers; lifestyle, relationships

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