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The discarding of defaults is one of the biggest reasons I like polyamory. Yeah, I'm not so comfortable with monogamy as a practice, but to me being poly is about more than that.

It means to me that there ARE no defaults anymore. By rejecting monogamy--the biggest default of them all--I'm breaking down all those rules about what relationships are supposed to be. I get to start from scratch, make a relationship that's completely specific to me and my partner. That's what I love about polyamory.


Interesting! Being together, but not living together is something that is becoming more common here, and I know several couples, among them my own mother and her man, who prefer it that way and has been doing it for the last 10 years or so now, and it has had a good effect on their relationship.

There's even a word for it here. 'Särbo' that is a combination made up from the words for 'apart' and 'living'.

Cannonball Jones

Since my marriage crashed down in flames around me I've been really questioning what I'd want out of a relationship, should I enter into one again. I decided that I'd say to hell with all the 'default decisions'. I never wanted to marry in the first place as I consider the institution to be an outdated curiosity at best and only did so to please my partner. Not again. I need a lot of space and free time to myself so co-habiting any time soon would be out. Kids, I'm not sure about. Nice idea but practically a pain in the ass.

Now the problem. How the hell to find someone I actually like who feels the same way? :p The bad thing about rejecting or even questioning default decisions is that they are default because most people seem to agree with them...

Claire B

Thanks for this, Greta. I clicked through the link and read the piece on singledom, and thanks for that, too.

I've been single for a couple years now, and I'm really liking it. Or rather, that isn't quite the accurate way of putting it. What I'd say is, being single is a state of being, being in a couple (or a triple, or whatever) is a state of being. Both of them have advantages and disadvantages. Right now, the "single" set of advantages suits me far better than any other way.

And yeah, you're so right about people not getting it. I remember a while back, I was on the phone to a friend and whining about various things that were bothering me and how I was upset by these things. And she said, in very gentle, sympathetic tones, "And is it because you're single, too?"

And that just totally stopped me in my tracks, because it was right outside my mental map. The idea that being single could cause or contribute to misery for me just wasn't even on my horizon. So I said no, that's not it, and to her credit, that particular friend was happy to take me at my word. But some other people get quite, I don't know, almost aggressive if you tell them that you're just fine the way you are, and you don't want what they seem to think you should want, and that if you never find a relationship, ever, you don't think that'll actually bother you particularly.

So yeah, it's nice to be able to see that someone whose opinions you really respect feels the same way, or rather felt the same way before finding their sweetie and still doesn't reckon single=sad.

Felicia Gilljam

Maria touches on something rather curious about Swedish society and language - we have the words sambo and särbo, short for sammanboende and särboende, which means together-living and apart-living, respectively. Simple and effective terms to denote your relationship status when you're _not_ married. (I should mention that särbo is often equated with boyfriend or girlfriend or simply being in a "steady relationship", for instance when you're filling in forms - there might be the options Single, Steady relationship, Sambo or Married, for instance.) Could the presence of these terms be indicative of Sweden's generally progressiveness in these areas?

Sambo is more than just a word, for the record - there are laws pertaining the rights of sambos. They are not as extensive as those for registered partnerships or marriages, but they exist.


"Could the presence of these terms be indicative of Sweden's generally progressiveness in these areas?"

I think it could maybe be so. Clearly the words were invented because of a need to name forms of being together that are non-traditional, and since they caught on quickly are are completely accepted (no one raises as much as an eyebrow if you present your significant other as your sambo or särbo and so on) it probably shows that these non-traditional ways of being together is also accepted and seen as normal by a vast majority.

"I should mention that särbo is often equated with boyfriend or girlfriend or simply being in a "steady relationship","

I think so too, except maybe for younger people like teenagers who would use 'kille' and 'tjej' (boyfriend/girlfriend) more often I guess. The word, to me at least, seems mostly to be used for older people to denote, just as you say, a more steady relationship where the two persons has decided not to live under the same roof.

Another such word, that is more of a joke, is 'Mambo' short for 'mother' and 'living', meaning adults moving back home to their parents when fallen on hard times :-)


What a great column! Being from a fairly conservative background and state (Pennsyltucky, you know, the part between Pittsburgh and Philly) I find it fascinating to learn about how other people live and deal with life and how it's perfectly okay to be different.

C. L. Hanson

I've known people who prefer not cohabiting with their S.O. -- it's pretty reasonable if that's what works for you. Dan Savage gives the example of his straight brother doing exactly that with his S.O. in the book "The Commitment" (while giving examples of all sorts of relationship possibilities that work for different people).

For myself, I've never had a problem living with a lover and yet I've had a lot of difficulty living with roommates. It's a weird thing about my private space -- a lover gets easily absorbed into it, but a stranger somehow becomes a perpetual irritant, even if the person is perfectly pleasant and reasonable, etc.


I do love when you repost your blowfish pieces, it reminds me why I liked them the first time. And I have a short memory. So win-win!

My partner and I are currently unmarried, and are likely to remain so for quite some time. We actually talked about marriage quite early on in our relationship, not as a "let's do it" thing that people usually mean when they say "talk about marriage", but as a "what does it mean to me, what does it mean to you?" sort of way. Turns out it's so important to both of us that we both made it pretty clear early on we could never date someone we wouldn't want to marry, and we could wait pretty much forever for it to happen to make sure it's just right. Back when I thought I had to marry my first boyfriend, when it was all a rush... that was not fun. And I can't imagine how it would be to be a couple that each assumed a DIFFERENT timeline and set of default decisions for those sorts of things. Actually, I've seen it happen to a multi-cultural pairing, and it's pretty ugly. x_X It didn't last too long.

A while back I was at a party with my partner's family, and the matriarchs (a young generation of them, older siblings of my partner and their friends) stood about and gossiped about forcing us to marry and how they might accomplish it. I remember being so angry that I couldn't even talk to them about why I didn't care for them to do that. Didn't they know it's not their choice? And that was with dearly loving them all--this wasn't mother-in-law syndrome here. It took a long time for me to understand why I was angry, and even more to understand why they would have done so so casually. It wasn't even religion... just a case of wanting the best for us, and trying to help us make the 'right' choice for our happiness. And a bit of fun for them on the way to go with the rum punch.


Shit! I wish being single was an option for me.


Thank you so much for posting this, Greta! It's an (in my experience) almost never-mentioned topic, but one I've been pondering more and more since becoming a naturalist. Any time tradition gets involved--especially a tradition that differs from culture to culture--I have to stop and ask, Why?

Unfortunately, my wife and I get swept away by our culture at a very young age and made some decisions we probably wouldn't have otherwise made.

I was about to write a blogpost on perspective and this topic would be a perfect example--do you mind if I link to your post in reference? (Sorry, I'm still new to blogging and don't quite know blogger etiquette ^_^)

Relationship Advice by China Project

Disabilities of Delaware County, PA. Through the use of resource ownership, and partnering with several funding sources, we were able to create a job for Michael and give Havertown Health and Fitness members a better product that will enhance there workout experience.

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