The idea of the spectrum is that it gives a 1 to 10 rating of the intensity between "no" and "yes". It can be useful because not only will it help you gauge your own intensity, it can make it easier to express your position when you're talking about an emotionally charged subject. So, here's the scale:
When you are afraid to ask your partner something, it's typically because you think their answer will be #1. Maybe it will be. Personally, I think it's worth asking and knowing rather than just assuming. If the answer is #3 or above, you can actually start talking about it.
It's important to remember that not all things require #10 to do. If I wanted to blow some money on a new camera, my partner might be at #6, but I would feel OK doing it anyway. However, if I wanted to get hand-fasted to another woman, I would need a #10 from my partner to feel OK doing it. Ultimately we decided that most actions and relationships in the poly realm require a #7 or #8 as the minimum to act.
It's also important to understand that not everything will move up the scale into the "yes" range, and that's OK. This is not a tool to persuade someone towards yes. It's a tool to better communicate your position on a particular subject.
(Spectrum proposed and described by Dan)
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