Hemning Sternberg (moonshadow) wrote,
Hemning Sternberg

ask vs. guess, boundary patrolling

A few weeks ago, mzrowan posted a link to an article about "ask culture" versus "guess culture." See it here.

And today, theferrett made a post about how to patrol your own boundaries*. I would say that this encapsulates much of the concept behind Ask Culture. When it's Guess Culture, of course, you're not supposed to talk about how it works much (at least not to the concerned parties), you're supposed to Just Know.**

Recently I am considering a theory that part of why poly relationships work well for me is that they are more typically grounded in an "ask" model. In other words, it's generally understood that you are expected to negotiate the rules for your specific relationship on your own. In the world of monogamy, while some people negotiate their own rules there are also a lot of cultural scripts to navigate - other people's expectations can be very relevant. Also, from my limited experience, it seems you are often supposed to know how it works without saying anything. I am reminded of something about, "Do I tell my new partner that I am not seeing other people anymore, or is that too much pressure to put on them?" that I see in women's magazines on occasion.

What do you think? Is monogamy more of a guessing situation by default? Am I off-base? Do you belong to guess culture, or ask culture?

* I strongly agree with almost all of this post. The only part I don't agree with is that friends should only ask for favors occasionally. I am fine with friends asking for favors all the time - I just look for a reasonable balance between "favors out" and "favors in."
** Though I no longer practice Guess Culture, one thing that Ask Culture doesn't always factor into account is that not everyone feels empowered to say no to requests, or knows how to do so.
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