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What is Polyamory?

Polyamory is the practice of having romantic relationships with one or more partners at the same time. Such relationships are formed with the consent of all partners involved. People who identify as polyamorous may believe in open relationships. They reject the view that sexual and relational exclusivity are prerequisites for deep, committed, long-term, loving relationships. Others prefer to restrict their sexual activity only to members of the group. Such a closed polyamorous relationship is referred to as polyfidelity.

Polyamory is an umbrella term for the different kinds of non-monogamous, multi-partner, and sexual relationships. It reflects the choices and the philosophies of the people involved regarding love, intimacy, honesty, integrity, equality, communication, and commitment. It can sometimes be distinguished from some other forms of ethical non-monogamy in that the relationships involved are loving intimate relationships, as opposed to purely sexual relationships.

Polyamorous people have multiple loving, intentional, and intimate relationships at the same time. Polyamory is a type of open or non-monogamous relationship that follows certain guidelines. In most polyamorous relationships, each person is aware of the other partners involved.

There are different types of polyamory:

  • Solo polyamory- This refers to people who are open to dating multiple others or engaging in multiple other “meaningful relationships” without having a single primary partner (one partner to whom they are more committed than the other partners).

  • Triad- Also known as "throttle", some polyamorous couples, look for a long term relationship with another single person. Women who are open to dating such couples are known as "unicorns" while men who do the same are known as "dragons".

  • Quad- In this, some polyamorous couples look for long term relationships with other couples. In a squad, it is possible that all the partners may have sexual relationships with each other.

  • Polyfidelity- This refers to a group of people who have a committed, meaningful relationship with each other and do not date outside the group. It is a romantic structure where all of the members are considered to be equal and sexual/ romantic activities are restricted only to the members of the group.

  • Hierarchical Polyamory- In this romantic structure, people have primary relationships to which they devote the most time, attention, and love, as well as secondary and tertiary relationships that receive less time, attention, and love. The primary partner may have more power over important decisions that are taken.

  • Non-Hierarchical Polyamory- This is the opposite of hierarchical polyamory. It refers to people who do not have a hierarchy of partners. All the partners receive equal time, attention, and love. They may also have equal power to put forth their input on important decisions.

Polyamory falls under consensual non-monogamy which can take several different forms depending on the needs and preferences of the people involved in any specific relationship. As of 2019, over one-fifth of the population in the United States of America has engaged in some sort of consensual non-monogamy at some point in their lives.

How do Polyamorous Relationships Work?

People in polyamorous relationships have a completely separate set of practical ways in which they arrange their lives and handle certain issues, as compared to individuals having monogamous relationships. People with different sexual orientations are a part of the community and form networks of relationships, with the consent and agreement of their partners. Polyamorous relationships are adopted mostly by those who choose to not stay loyal to one particular partner and have multiple sexual partners instead. Honest and clear communication between all the partners involved is what keeps a polyamorous relationship steady. All members of the group are happy when they do not cross each other's boundaries and respect each other’s privacy. However, maintaining such a relationship is not easy especially if there is a primary relationship. There are chances of increasing jealousy, insecurities, distrust, and suspiciousness that may eventually ruin the relationship.

Important Rules to Follow in a Polyamorous Relationship

  1. Consent of Partner- both partners in a primary relationship must consent to have such a relationship. Doing anything without consent from all the partners involved would be considered cheating.

  2. Using Protection- Having multiple sexual relationships puts people at risk of contracting STDs as well as unplanned pregnancies due to which it is extremely important to use protection.

  3. Establishing Clear Boundaries- Polyamorous relationships can give birth to a lot of jealousy and insecurity between partners. Due to this, being clear about what you want and expect from the relationship and from your partners is an absolute must. Setting down boundaries for the relationship would also help prevent any negative feelings.

  4. Having Clear Communication- If a partner is feeling uncomfortable or unhappy about something related to the relationship. he/ she must convey it to the partners as clearly as possible. Communication between all the partners must be open and honest.

  5. Paying Equal Attention to Your Partners- although such relationships involve multiple people, it must be ensured that no partner is feeling neglected. It is important to make time for all partners equally and make them feel as loved as you can.

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