Kimchi Cuddles webcomic on solo polyamory


October 26, 2013 by aggiesez

Way cool! Today, the topic on Kimchi Cuddles (a popular webcomic on polyamory) is solo polyamory!

Kimchi Cuddles, Oct. 26, 2013

Kimchi Cuddles, Oct. 26, 2013

LOL, I’ve heard similar stuff to what they mention in the last frame… As if people can’t decide to give (or cave in to giving) other people the power to approve or veto their personal choices. I mean, that sort of power dynamic is pretty much a mandatory (if unconsciously presumed) aspect of the medium-advanced phases of the standard social relationship escalator model.

Power does not always equal brute compulsory force — although I’d argue that gunpoint is pretty damn compulsory…

UPDATE: Kimchi Cuddles did a followup cartoon on this theme.

8 thoughts on “Kimchi Cuddles webcomic on solo polyamory

  1. SHG says:

    Hmm… I agree that it’s much more complex than that. If there’s a standing expectation that one person gets a say in your decisions, and you make a choice to give them that say in your decisions, then that is clearly a different model from somebody who will make their decisions first and lovingly inform their partners after the fact. The fact that my partner does not expect to say “yes” or “no” to the majority of my decisions, and certainly none of my decisions about sex or romance, creates a different dynamic than if he expected me to go to him for permission with each person I’m interested in.

  2. Eve says:

    Hm, I don’t think I agree with this. I don’t identify as solo poly because I have a husband whom I live with. But we are both *very* independent in our personal choices. In no way does my husband have veto power or the power to approve or reject my personal choices, or vice-versa. Occasionally we may draw a line in the sand like “I’m not going to continue to pay your credit card bill unless you get a job by next month,” or “Sorry, you’re going to have to find someone else to look after your fish if you want to take that trip; I won’t do it;” but those are still things that apply to our own personal decisions and behaviour. I realize our relationship doesn’t look mike most marriages, though (something we get comments on a lot). But it would be a pretty big stretch to call me solo poly–but I would be by the definition above.

    • aggiesez says:

      Here’s the thing — lots of coupled-up people operate very independently and thuse are solo-ish. Similarly, many people who are otherwise solo may act couple-ish with some partners in some contexts. It’s not black-and-white, it’s a spectrum.

  3. Thea Nova says:

    Snarky comment commencing now:
    But if you don’t give your primary partner all this power over your decisions, who will be the bad guy when you treat people like crap? If you didn’t give your primary all this power over your decisions then you might be held to a higher standard and may even have to, GASP, take personal ownership of your decisions! Oh, the inhumanity!

    There is a definite advantage, or privilege, in having someone you can blame. Someone that is forcing you to treat others an unimportant, forcing you to minimize the wants and needs of your partners, and getting away with that. It allows you the freedom to say you want more, without actually having to give more, because you have a partner that has more influence over your own decisions than you do. I have to say, as far as privilege goes, having a primary is like having the best wing man eva!

    End Snarky comment with the following disclaimer:
    Not all people and couples are like this. YMMV.

    • aggiesez says:

      Yep, which is exactly how couple privilege can hurt everyone, including people in primary-style relationships. If you basically position your primary partner as “the bad guy” when you, say, dump a nonprimary partner in a veto situation, that creates stress in the primary relationship too. I’ve seen it happen, it ain’t pretty.

  4. B says:

    That comic is lovely… what I like most, however, is the fact that it recognizes an often-overlooked aspect of the whole primary-label debate, which is our responsibility for our own decisions, even in circumstances where there is considerable outside influence on our decision-making.

    For context, I’m cis, bi, female, poly, married, and have a boyfriend (and am dating a girl). My husband and I have a young child and live together. My other relationships are fairly young and not integrated with my household. My husband does not currently have a relationship with anyone other than me, outside of a couple of hook-up partners…

    My marriage has ‘primary’ status. I don’t like the semantics of primary/secondary labelling, but in our case it is useful (though we tend to use quotation marks around it). This is because we share a home, have fully integrated finances and parenting duties, and we are committed to each other and to our family. Everything I choose to do with my time directly impacts what my husband can choose to do with his time, and vice versa. One of us, at least, must always be with our child. Both of us want to spend lots of time together with our child, too. And with each other. My other relationships are still in the dating phase and unlikely to (want to) integrate with our home life. This definitely influences my decision making. I rarely sleep over with my boyfriend, for instance, though I know he would love to have me stay for a couple of days. I would love to, as well, but it’s not just about me. My child is still too young to understand why mom would disappear for a couple of days, and so such things are not undertaken lightly. And I certainly don’t blame my child/husband for that.

    I often find that in discussions such as the one above, the sheer practical applications of child-rearing and the practical aspects of running a home, are devalued. Yes, there are ‘sacrifices’, and yes, this has influence on one’s decision making. But I also made the decision to joyfully accept those responsibilities – and accept that this has consequences. That does not devalue my less integrated relationships – but it does put them at a lower priority when it comes to time management.

    There’s a fine line between couple privilege and the real world consequences of commitment and family life. In my opinion, sometimes Primary is an appropriate label, without being disrespectful to one’s other relationships.

    • aggiesez says:

      Thanks, B.

      Actually, in the many discussions about couple privilege I’ve participated in, I haven’t ever heard anyone claiming that life, family, and logistical commitments are synonymous with “couple privilege.” EVERYONE has those kinds of commitments, whether they’re coupled-up or not. And such commitments matter for everyone.

      Rather, where couple privilege comes in is where people adopt default presumptions that amount to inherently (and often permanently) devaluing or disadvantaging the relationships, commitments, goals, or investments of non-primary partners; of positioning non-primary partners as inherently disposable or threatening; of presuming that primary partners and relationships “must always come first,” and that non-primary partners and relationships must always do all the adapting and accommodating; of granting “rights of approval/veto” to primary partners over non-primary relationships.

      All relationships have the potential to accrue “sweat equity” over time; and what you’re discussing in your comment amounts to honoring sweat equity in primary relationships. That’s fine. But people can also accrue sweat equity in non-primary relationships; and part of the purpose of couple privilege is to deliberately prohibit that from happening, which basically means that where couple privilege is exercised, non-primary partners shoulder a vastly disproportionate amount of the risk in non-primary relationships.

      I’m working with an author on a guest post specifically about the sweat equity theme. Stay tuned for that.

      But for all the circumstances you mention — those goals of being there for your kids, etc., they don’t necessarily have to come at the expense of your non-primary partners and relationships. In a network of relationships, people can collaborate to come up with solutions to meet goals. No one needs to always come last by default. And many people in primary-style relationships, even with young kids, do find ways to accomplish their goals in collaboration with their nonprimary partners.

      • B says:

        I definitely look forward to that sweat equity post! I generally find your writings to be extremely well thought out and interesting, and I’ve been looking for something like that term…

        Perhaps it’s just the poly community immediately around me, or the lack of good words (language is so problematic), that makes me sensitive to the primary label, as there isn’t always differentiation (in the discussions around me) between “couple defence barriers” and logistical realities. Most (actually, come to think of it, all) of the local polies I know and meet are young, have no children and are still in college or work freelance… I realise that by comparison, I must appear to be awfully inflexible, as my capacity for spontaneity is much smaller…

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