hey, i came up with this relationships model the other day, it's sort of like a language to describe different sorts of relationships that a person could be in. the language could apply to mono or poly relationships.
i realise there is some inappropriateness of thinking of relationships in "levels" as it can be misinterpreted to mean that i am placing some kind of extra worth on sexual relationships than on pure friendship relationships, so i just want to say i don't mean it like that.
anyway :) here it is.........
My Relationships Model
Imagine a little flight of stairs. There are 5 steps in this flight of stairs, and a "step 0". This is what each of the steps stand for, starting from step 5, the highest step:
A person you are in a serious intimate relationship with. The two of you plan to have babies together or live together forever etc etc.
(step four is divided into two sections)
4.ii and 4.i
4.ii --- is a person you are sleeping with who you really love and adore and want in your life long term. While you have a sexual relationship with them, you wouldn't start a family with them or want to live with them forever, probably because of some difference between you that just make you unsuitable for that kind of relationship. If in the case of the two of you ceasing to be sexual with each other, there is a high probability that you will remain friends. As well as spending time with this person as a sexual lover, you also enjoy spending time with them because of their good company.
4.i --- is a person you are sleeping with but whom with you don't imagine yourself in a long term relationship. You see yourself having a sexual relationship with this person for a while and then going your own ways. While this may not be explicitly expressed between you, you are not particularly good friends with this person and if you broke up with them there is a good chance you wouldn't remain friends.
A person you flirt with and have sex with your words with. There is a clear and mutual attraction between you and you are both aware of it, but you are not physically being sexual with them at all. This might include either a person you see in your every day life whom with you share a mutual attraction or perhaps a person you know over the internet or through some other long distance communication device. Step 3 could also be thought of as being broken down into 3.ii and 3.i. 3.ii's a friend with whom you have a flirty attraction and 3.i's are strangers with whom you have a flirty attraction (i.e. the flirty attraction is really all you share with one another).
A person you are friends with in a purely unsexual way. You enjoy each others company and/or are support people in each other's lives.
People you see around regularly (eg at work) but rarely talk to. If you do talk to them it is for work related/practical related matters only. They are fairly insignificant in your life. This may include a shop attendant that you have no particular connection with or a work colleague that you have no intentions of catching up with after you or that person leaves your current work place.
People you pass once off in the street and people you never ever see or interact with.
..........Imagine the whole set of stairs again. There are people standing on the different steps, there can be more than one person on some/all of the steps (depending on whether you are in a poly or mono relationship). The people on each step are organised into little groups. For example, there might be 19 people on step 2, but they are in 5 little groups. There might be five people in one group (they are wearing blue shirts), two in another (wearing pink jumpers), six in another (wearing purple jumpers) and so on. This next section will be explain why people would be in different groups while being on the same step.
First of all it is important to recognise that a person has to “give consent” to be on a certain step. If a person gives consent or demonstrates a desire to be in a step 4 relationship with you, then you may place them either on step 4 or any of the steps below. But you could not place them on step 5. Similarly, in the reverse... if a person would like to have a step 4 relationship with you but you only consent to having a step 2 relationship with them, they may only place you on step 2 or below. They cannot force you onto a higher step than you want to be on.
Imagine again, the example step 2 with 19 people on it and consider why the people might be grouped into little groups. There might be some people on step 2 who you share mutual feelings with, for example, you might have friends and family who's company you enjoy and whom you value in your life, but that you never see yourself forming a sexual or flirty relationship with. You have no preference to move the relationship up or down a step and neither do they. These kind of people are in a little group together.
There might, however, be people on step 2 that you would LIKE to have a step 3, 4 or 5 relationship with but you are restricted from doing so because they don't want to have that kind of relationship with you. They are not attracted to you in that way. These people make up another little group.
In the reverse, there may be people who would LIKE to have a step 3, 4 or 5 relationship with you but whom you are not attracted to in that way. These people would make up another little group.
And lastly, there might be people with whom you share a mutual feeling that you would have a step 3 or 4 relationship with IF they weren't in a monogamous relationship with someone else. You don't flirt with these people, but perhaps there was a time in your past when you might have been in a step 3 or 4 relationship with, but that it's no longer appropriate to be in that kind of relationship any more considering your or their new relationship status. These people form two little groups. 1) One group for those restricted by YOUR current relationship and 2) one group for people who's current relationship is the cause of the restriction.
This kind of grouping occurs on other steps too. Consider step 4 for example. You may be in a step 4.i relationship with someone and they might want to take it to a step 4.ii or even a step 5 relationship, but you see them only as a step 4.i and nothing more. These people would form one group on step 4.
Also on step 4 there may be the reverse, you may be with someone in a step 4.i or 4.ii relationship and want to take it to a higher level but they might not be interested. These people would form a group.
There might be someone who you are on a level 4.i with and are just sussing out. That is, you might want to go up a level with them, but you don't know them well enough. They would form a group.
You can think of the different groups as being colour coded (that's why I said to imagine them wearing different coloured t-shirts).
PINK – The feelings between you and this person are mutual and steady. Neither of you want to change steps.
YELLOW – You would like to go to a higher step, but the other person doesn't want to.
ORANGE – The other person would like to go to a higher step, but you don't want to.
BLUE – You are not sure whether you'd like to go up a step with the person or not, you are sussing them out to see whether you might like to request a move to a higher step. You like them more and more each day, but you don't really have enough information to decide yet.
PURPLE – You are not sure whether you really want a relationship on this step level with this person. You are giving it a go but suspect you will move the relationship to a lower step if things don't improve.
RED – A relationship that the person is in is placing restrictions on your interactions with the person and preventing you from having a relationship on a higher step.
BROWN – A relationship that YOU are in is placing restrictions on your interactions with the person and preventing you from having a relationship on a higher step.
RED and BROWN STRIPES – A relationship that is restricted from going to higher steps because of relationships that both you and the other person have with other people.--------------
the idea is that in a poly relationship, it is often acceptible to have multiple level 5s and 4s and 3s where as in a mono relationship only one level 4 or 5 at a time is acceptable, 3s are off limits while in a 4 or 5, and even 2s are often restricted to be with pink 2s.
mono relationships bug me for this reason... i feel like when i've been in mono relationships there has been an expectation that i will be in that relationship and call that person "my 1st best friend" and that my next best friend that i have anything to do with is actually my "53rd best friend" because my partner is threatened by all the friends that i actually have a connection with.