Many people describe themselves as “poly” but what is polyamory, and how does it work?
What is Polyamory? Is Polyamory Illegal?
Polyamory is the practice of having more than one romantic or sexual partner at the same time, with the knowledge and consent of all partners. Everyone involved will be in agreement that it’s OK for each person to be open to or have other romantic partners.
It is one of the fastest growing relationship models yet many people, even those who practice polyamory struggle with the assumptions about what it means to be “poly”. Here is everything you need to know.
Polyamory is NOT an Excuse to Cheat
A polyamorous relationship is always with consent. It won’t involve a partner on the side that others do not know about, as this would be cheating. Shagging your gardener while your partner is at work without their knowledge is not being poly, it’s being a cheat. In a polyamorous relationship, all three of you would be aware and consenting.
Swinging is also different to polyamory, as that is based on people meeting up for recreational sex and friendships. Bonds can and do develop but with polyamory, generally speaking, the relationships have greater emotional depth. Sex is only one part of a poly relationship.
Polyamory is not just about sex
Of course, sex is a big factor for many, but most poly people will tell you they aren’t into polyamory just for the sex. Many polyamorous people choose this lifestyle as beyond the sex there is an extended support network and meaningful relationships. In fact, some people get into poly relationships as they identify as asexual, this is a way for them to feel the love and the romance in a relationship or multi-relationship and not the physical side of sex, yet their partners aren’t also obliged to be asexual or celibate.
Polyamourous relationships are based on commitment
Many people think those who refer to themselves as polyamorous just use it as an excuse not to commit, but this could not be further from the truth. Those who are poly remain committed to one partner when another person comes along. They do not jump from lover to lover (…unlike many who are monogamous) and will and stay committed to the people within their relationships.
Polyamory can get complicated
Relationships between two consenting adults can be difficult at times, so of course, a polyamorous relationship certainly has its challenges. It greatly depends on the nature of the relationship.
There can be primary and secondary relationships, where the primary couple will determine a set of ground rules for who sees who, and when. This isn’t always the case, as some people don’t like having a hierarchy, where some people have a higher ranking than others. Being a primary partner can simply mean you’ve been with one particular person longer than you have with your other partners.
The most important rule in any poly relationships is to communicate so that any complications don’t explode.
What about jealousy?
There can be jealousy in some poly relationships, and this varies from person to person. Any feelings of jealousy should be addressed as soon as they occur. It’s important for those in a poly relationship to be mindful of their lovers, to make a clear effort to balance multiple partners wants, needs and desires.
The concept of being poly and loving multiple people can be compared to a parent having multiple children. A parent will love all of their children equally, and not have more love for one child than another. This is because the brain has the capacity to love more than one person and this is similar to how poly people operate.
The Benefits of a polyamorous relationship
Many in polyamorous relationships describe the wealth of love, affection and possibility that having multiple partners in their lives as abundance. Polyamory allows you to experience a unique and lasting love with more than one person, which opens you up to lots of different experiences with multiple people.
In a poly relationship, you often have a bigger support network which will add increased comfort and reassurance to your life.
Of course, you can also have the benefit of sex. With everyone being into different things in the bedroom, a person who wants to try lots of things can get experimental with more than one person, and learn things from multiple lovers.
The benefits a polyamory relationship can bring are endless, but it is complex and not something to be taken lightly.
As in every relationship communication is key!
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Written by the Killing Kittens team.