“What is A Polycule?” I overheard that question while cohosting a pop-up, roundtable talk and Q&A with Grown Black and Poly LLC on Clubhouse. I’m glad people ask questions, as its easy to forget we all speak different languages. Even with English, we speak different relationship languages.
With the parameters of Clubhouse, a social audio app where users communicate in audio chat rooms, I figured it would be easy to send the curious person a link to visually see a polycule. Though as I write this, I’d be remiss if I didn’t check myself, for NOT being intentional in finding NUMEROUS ways to explain a polycule including verbally, as there are those who are visually impaired. That’s how we got here now. (I also just told Grammarly, which is checking my tone right now to go ahead and add “polycule” into my dictionary. Considering PolyAm Dynamics, we’ll be using that word a lot.)
Imagine all the relationships in your life forming a constellation. Think data visualization. Think of a relationship constellation that connects all the people you prioritize in your life. This constellation also includes the people they prioritize too. It might appear as a mind map, as another frame of reference. For those within the Polyamorous or Nonmonogamous style of relating, that constellation or mindmap that links the network of people is a Polycule. Also note, you are the center of your own Polycule.
To map out your polycule or simply your relationship constellation, you can use a variety of tools:
- Good ole, pen and paper. I once did that.
- There’s mind-mapping software
- You can use post-its, photographs or draw – if you’re that into it, do it. Use a whole code system to denote the nuances
Examining your constellations and polycules through this activity lends itself to insightful information, self-awareness, and growth opportunities.
- Notice and highlight the connections you want to work on, intentionally pour into
- Notice where there may be space and breath for new connections
- Whether you have a constellation or not, draw out the one you imagine. Start to manifest that shit!
While clicking around the internet, I came across two interesting sources. Polycul.es and BedroomLan.
The website Polycul.es asks, “How would you picture your poly relationship? With the polycul.es website, you can visualize your polyamorous relationship with a force-directed graph. The more strongly related two people are, the closer together they appear. Each relationship can be annotated with text describing it. You can create your own from scratch HERE.
On BedroomLan, a tool emerges called The “Polyamory Graph Explorer.” Expanding the polyamory perspective to speak more towards those mathematically inclined, “The Graph Theory Side” was created. For instance, A vertex (or, sometimes, node) on a graph in this context is a person. And an edge is a line connecting vertices. In those cases, it’s a relationship. (They denote “romantic”. I understand that erases those who are romantic.) If you’re a geek like me, go check that one out. The “Polyamory Graph Explorer” was birthed from “How Many Poly People Does it Take” in which the Poly Equation was being explored. Click around and enjoy the geekery.
Please do note, this does not even begin to denote polycule structures or styles of relating. Polyamorous vocabulary includes things like V relationships, Triads, Platonic Polycules, Unicorns, Dragons, Metamours, Kitchen Tables, Garden Parties, Lapsitting, and more. Its a fucking lot. I knew I needed to pause though and find a way simply to answer, “What is a Polycule?” Start at “A Glossary of Relationship Frameworks” until I can find even more vetted resources.