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SEEPage November 24, 2008

Posted by Onely in Food for Thought, Singled Out.
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For all you writers out there!! Here Bella DePaulo admits that in an early draft of her opus Singled Out, before she heard about Liz Spencer and Ray Pahl‘s study of different kinds of personal communities, she had a “clunky phrase” to describe significant others who form the nexus of their partner’s social life (per Spencer and Pahl, that would be a “partner-based personal community”). The term DePaulo used to describe that kind of significant other was “Sex and Everything Else Person,” aka a “SEEPie”. She said that readers of the draft hated the term, so she scrapped it. But I like it! I wonder how our Copious Readership feels about Seepies. Either way, it just goes to show you what a freakin’ headache writing is.

I was raised in a foreign service family. This means that my mom, dad, sister, and I travelled around together, one little square unit. This setup feeds into the partner-based personal community paradigm. Indeed, the federal government will often facilitate job placement for a spouse, and provide relocation funding, but they sure won’t do that for any other important person in the primary worker’s life. (I’m not sure what happens to gay and lesbian couples in federal service when one of the partners is assigned overseas, but I’m reasonably certain it’s not too pretty.)

And speaking of my family–growing up, my sister and I were not close to our grandparents or other extended family. We just didn’t see them much, simply because we were so seldom colocated. We did have another kind of extended family, though. There are several other State families we had tours with long ago, with whom we stayed in touch at least as closely, if not more so, than our actual relatives. The moms and dads we called “aunts” and “uncles”. When the various kids (sometimes “cousins”) needed a place to stay but were living away from their parents at school or work or whatever, if one of the other families was closer to the child, that family’s house opened up to the kid as a place to crash, seek emotional support, whatever. Nice setup. However, partner-based, ultra-compact family units still formed the basis of this network. That probably limited its fluidity somewhat. 

We welcome Copious Readership’s thoughts on their own kinds of Personal Communities.  

–CC

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