jay: (Default)
[personal profile] jay
I've had several discussions lately with folks about relationship labels. For myself, I tend to view friendship and relationship as part of a continuous spectrum, with friendships simply being a kind of incomplete/damaged/otherwise-constrained relationship (if close) or else simply a non-hostile person (if not close). These are mine, for my own historical reasons, and I am not trying to persuade anyone else to use them. Only perhaps to better understand what I say, at times?

sweetie: someone with whom I have emotional closeness and affection, a loving relationship. And typically some degree of attachment, and/or ongoing communication with each other. It is regardless of whether there's been any physical play or intimacy in the relationship, of whatever sort. Someone I trust and can have fun with.

lover: is someone with whom I've been some form of physically intimate, ironically whether or not there's any ongoing emotional attachment.

partner = sweetie + lover, plus a deeper ongoing commitment or attachment.

friend: is generally someone with whom I've mutually agreed to not be hostile. Closer to me than an acquaintance, but the term doesn't carry any connotation of openness or safety or support. If someone says "let's just be friends", I hear "we'll agree to not be enemies in the future, but not necessarily anything more." Not a love-relationship, per se.

friend-with-benefits: = friend + lover, without ongoing attachment

ambigu-sweetie: from [personal profile] radven originally, for me this is vaguely friend+sweetie, but since those are along the same continuum, it refers to differing connections in different activities.

tocotox, quantum-relationship: these are placeholder names I use for relationships/friendships that don't easily fit in the above categories, or which may function as one thing in some ways and as a different one in others. Or may probabilistically jump between different energy/connection levels over time, in the latter case.

I last visited this topic about 16 months ago, in this thread.

Date: 2008-08-18 07:03 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] satyrlovesong.livejournal.com
Isn't language grand? We are all speaking the same language, but that doesn't mean we understand eachother. My definitions of most of these terms are wildly different from yours, so it's wonderful to have a refresher course in what you mean.

I often wonder if what *I* see as blue is what everyone else sees as blue, or if they actually see red but call it blue. Without being able to experience AS them, I'll never know really.

Date: 2008-08-18 08:00 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] satyrlovesong.livejournal.com
I've been thinking about this, and am rather puzzled why we don't have more linguistic matches since we share some regional similarities. I use a variety of terms, most of which indicate a rather vague fondness, and they litter both my speech and my writing.

Sweetie, sweetness, dear one, darling and even kiddo - these all have roughly the same meaning (I'm quite fond of you) but are used in different circumstances. Dear one and darling are more often used in condolences (though not exclusively) and sweetie or sweetness are often in more positive situations. Kiddo is generally used with praise or admonition, but never with people I don't like or am actively angry with.

Dearest usually refers to someone I'm feeling particularly fond of at that moment.

Using a nickname, particularly one that is very exclusive, is a strong signal of affection and not something I do lightly. Use of someone's proper given name when they typically use a standardized nickname is . . . well, a sign I find them very appealing (Michael, vs. Mike, for example, or an extreme example of affection would be Mon Saint Michel).

Date: 2008-08-18 10:23 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] brian1789.livejournal.com
Hm... regional similarities in some ways, not in others. I still find myself saying "yes, ma'am" or "yes, sir" unconsciously to waitresses and airline agents. But endearments in speech... less so. I was a social outcast during my teen years, and really did not begin to socialize until MIT, which has probably warped my language usages (and other things ;).

I rarely use "sweetie" as a passing endearment, as for me, it's a bit like using "friend" or "spouse" similarly. Sometimes I'll use it to open an email to, well, a sweetie.

"Dear" is added on when I'm feeling affectionate towards someone in that moment, but usually only for partners/sweeties. Occasional but rare use with closer friends, but I have to be careful that they then don't parse it as a diminutive.

"dear one" has always been reserved for [profile] patgreene, as has "dearest," except in occasional email salutations to partners.

Date: 2008-08-18 10:13 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] brian1789.livejournal.com
(nods) or are they unawares color-shifted, and are actually seeing ultraviolet and calling it purple, with purple called blue, etc.? Without comparing descriptions of a common benchmark (say, light at a given frequency), they'd never know that they were using different words for the same color.

Date: 2008-08-18 07:30 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] zpdiduda.livejournal.com
Interesting! Your definitions are very different from mine, although we use many of the same terms (I'm giggling at "ambigu-sweetie" -- it's one I think I'll add to my own lexicon). Kudos for your success at defining the terms so clearly for yourself.

*hugs*

Date: 2008-08-18 10:11 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] brian1789.livejournal.com
I can't take credit, I heard it from Chris via [personal profile] dawnd. :)

Date: 2008-08-18 11:36 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] serolynne.livejournal.com
For what it's worth, your definition of quantum-relationships pretty much matches [personal profile] radven's intention with the term ambigusweetie. It's basically any relationship that doesn't easily fit into sweetie/lover/friend categories. :)

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Date: 2008-08-18 07:54 pm (UTC)
geekchick: (Default)
From: [personal profile] geekchick
I third the "good thing you post your definitions" because I define, for example, sweetie and friend very differently than you do.

Date: 2008-08-18 08:03 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] satyrlovesong.livejournal.com
Yes, that's where I noticed the most radical difference as well. People don't get to be a friend until I trust them, as well as like them. His definition of sweetie is closer to my definition of friend. His definition of friend is closer to my definition of "casual acquaintance", or perhaps "friend of a friend".

Date: 2008-08-18 10:09 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] brian1789.livejournal.com
Probably similar, because for me people don't get completely trusted until/unless I love them enough to grit my teeth and let down my defenses with them. And by that point, they're probably in my "sweetie" category.

Date: 2008-08-19 07:47 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] dawnd.livejournal.com
Right. From my perspective, [livejournal.com profile] brian1789 and I have been friends for quite some time. From his perspective we have been sweeties. It has led to some difficulty and confusion.

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Date: 2008-08-18 10:10 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] brian1789.livejournal.com
I'd be curious as to your own definitions, if you're willing.

Date: 2008-08-18 09:20 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] griffen.livejournal.com
friend: is generally someone with whom I've mutually agreed to not be hostile. Closer to me than an acquaintance, but the term doesn't carry any connotation of openness or safety or support. If someone says "let's just be friends", I hear "we'll agree to not be enemies in the future, but not necessarily anything more."

That's sad, to me. Friend does not mean simply "we have agreed not to be hostile." Friend, to me, means "someone who gives a damn if something happens to you."

Date: 2008-08-18 10:02 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] brian1789.livejournal.com
(nods) My default definition and expectations of "friends" are pretty low, and consequently I don't place much of my time or energy with them as a category. But there are still some individual friends that rise above my defaults.

Date: 2008-08-19 03:39 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] satyrlovesong.livejournal.com
*raspberry* *tacklepounce* Some of us ornery types will learn ya!

And thanks.

Date: 2008-08-18 09:49 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] wordweaverlynn.livejournal.com
This is an illuminating list. My usages are quite different -- as well as my feelings about friendship. I also note you don't list any "chosen family" relationships, whereas I tend to cast a lot of loving but nonsexual relationships in familial terms.

Date: 2008-08-18 10:06 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] brian1789.livejournal.com
Your "chosen family" category doesn't exist for me, I think... it is hard to see what they would gain from me, or me from them, from being loving-but-nonsexual, or at least loving-but-nonromantic. It is also hard to imagine opening up and *trusting* someone to be as close as family, if they were rejecting me to that extent meanwhile?

Date: 2008-08-19 12:12 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mactavish.livejournal.com
Sometimes people feel trusting/close without feeling sexually attracted. That's not the same as rejection.

I'm sexually attracted to a tiny proportion of people I know, even otherwise very sexy people, it's just how I'm wired. I can't explain it -- but it's not rejection.

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Date: 2008-08-19 12:27 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] yami-mcmoots.livejournal.com
Er, you/they would gain a loving relationship? I suspect that relationships I think of as chosen family, you would call "sweeties"... but I am a bit confused. How do you define "romantic"?

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Date: 2008-08-19 02:38 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] inflectionpoint.livejournal.com
Yes!

In my coven, we have become downright tribal, and we are very linked to each other. And two of my brothers are Quite Gay, and one is not, but we still don't Go There, because it's not right for us to do so. And my Teacher is monagamous and married and quite happy. And yet we love each other, tremendously. And I call them brother. And sister. And it's a kind of chosen family, very loving and very non sexual. These relationships, which just ain't sexual and ain't gonna be sexual, are some of the greatest blessings in my life. I am grateful for them.

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Date: 2008-08-18 11:41 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] serolynne.livejournal.com
Add me to the list of folks for whom our languages are quite different. I think that one that most strongly stands out for me is your use of 'friends'. For me, 'friends' is a pretty high caliber of relationship and not a term I hand out easily. It's a description of a relationship that has proved over time to have a mutually vested interest in each other's lives to some extent.

Date: 2008-08-19 12:07 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] brian1789.livejournal.com
It's harder for me to imagine that someone would *want* to invest significant time and energy in my life, or my family's, and vest that commitment unless they were in a capital-R relationship with me. Otherwise, why would they bother? What would be in it for them?

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Date: 2008-08-18 11:52 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ka-crow.livejournal.com
Two questions out of genuine interest:

1. I'm told that "tocotox" is a holdover from alt.poly. To me, it kind of sounds like a cosmetic injection into the forehead! Do you have a pointer to someplace where this term is more completely defined?

2. What about your sweeties' sweeties who aren't you, or, to use the alphabet-soup method, your SOs' OSOs? Is that a different category, or is that, to you, a type of quantum relationship?

Date: 2008-08-19 12:02 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] brian1789.livejournal.com
(hopes you won't peck at my eyes for this coinage...)

For #2, I use "meta-sweetie" if there's some affection or connection, or occasional N-somes, and OSO or "C's other partner(s)" if there isn't so much.

For #1, the alt.polyamory home page glossary link is http://www.polyamory.org/~joe/ . My own poly language was influenced strongly from lots of time spent on alt.poly around 1998-2003.

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Date: 2008-08-19 02:38 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] brian1789.livejournal.com
Also... as regards "quantum relationship"... like tocotox, it describes a relationship which fits into different aspects of friend/lover/sweetie. But I see TOCOTOX as simultaneously those things, just across different areas or aspects. While a quantum-relationship is piecewise-different *over time*, in that two people may act as friends today, act googly-eyed and coupled over dinner next week, and then play passionately at next Saturday's party before being friendly and aw-shucks again two days later. Jumping between phase states, but landing more-or-less completely in them before jumping to the next state. Temporally piecewise-consistent, while a TOCOTOX is an ongoing mixed-bag?

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