Myths and Truths About Polyamorous Relationships

Polyamory is something of a taboo topic, even in the year 2020. As such, it becomes a difficult topic to broach in everyday conversations. Getting straight answers about some frequently asked questions is even harder.

Some people are simply curious and want to understand the nature of a polyamorous relationship a little better. Others might be interested in entering this type of relationship but have no idea where to start. 

You might even be in a polyamorous relationship but still don’t fully understand the finer details or how to make it work best. All of those things are okay – and we’re here to clear up some things no matter why you want the answer.

What Is a Polyamorous Relationship?

Before we dig into the subject, it’s essential to understand the basics. The most basic polyamorous relationship definition is a close, intimate, romantic relationship with more than one person at a time. In this type of arrangement, all parties are consenting adults and aware of the arrangement.

If you have a boyfriend or girlfriend on the side as well as a “main” significant other, each person involved must be explicitly informed. They must also be agreeable about what they’re involved in for it to qualify as polyamory. Anything else is infidelity, plain and simple.

Polyamory doesn’t have a whole lot of limits, which is the point for many polyamorous people – more on that later. However, informed consent and explicit communication are some base qualifications for any polyamorous relationship. Aside from that, a polyamorous relationship meaning can be quite flexible.

Myth 1: Polyamory and Bigamy Are the Same Things

Bigamy involves legal unions between multiple people – such as a marriage license. It is illegal throughout the United States; however, Utah has some ambiguous laws regarding the act. It is indeed a crime no matter where you live in the United States, and where you reside has a bearing on just how much lady law will throw the book at you for the offense.

Polyamory is not illegal, but sometimes local laws can make a polyamorous relationship difficult. Even when the law stays out of it, the opinions of people around you can make it feel like it’s very illegal.

As long your relationship doesn’t stray into bigamy territory, you won’t break any major laws. People involved in committed, long-term polyamorous relationships can hit other roadblocks, however. Things like cohabitating can become a gruelling territory to navigate, especially in certain regions of the country that are less accepting.

Myth 2: There Are no Rules in Polyamory

This is a popular school of thought that is sometimes misconstrued. No rules might sound great on paper, especially for someone who has recently discovered that polyamory looks like the perfect fit for them. 

Polyamorous relationship rules can be puzzling – some will tell you the only rule is “there are no rules.” This is only half-true, and should not be taken to heart, as tempting as it might be.

If you’re new to polyamory, you might feel like a lot of rules are being imposed on you – and they’re all about not controlling other people. It’s a little confusing, right? That makes it all the more important to understand the finer points of polyamory “rules,” and not get used as a doormat in the meantime.

“Don’t ask, don’t tell” is a popular philosophy in a polyamorous arrangement. Of course, this only applies after everyone is on board with opening up the relationship. Not asking too many questions is not a hard and fast rule, but it is something that might be expected of everyone involved.

A strict rule which absolutely does exist is to stay safe. If you’re part of a polyamorous relationship, you should always use adequate protection. Protection is also the only true demand you can place upon others involved in the relationship. In short: polyamory involves not asking permission to do things, but safe sex is something you can insist upon.

Another big no-no in polyamory is jealousy and possessiveness. And let’s be honest – if you struggle with this already, you might not be ready for polyamory yet. 

If two people in a polyamorous arrangement share one person, then both of the people “sharing” should be able to live peacefully with this situation. Another common myth is that the two people sharing have to like each other – they don’t necessarily need to. As long as they don’t actively make it a problem, it’s not vital that they like each other. 

In fact, it’s a typical arrangement in this situation for the two people who share a significant other to never interact with each other. This brings us to our next myth.

Myth 3: Polyamory Involves Living Together

Many polyamorous people live alone and prefer to conduct their relationships without living under the same roof. Other relationships work amazingly with everyone living together. It depends on the unique situation, and each polyamorous relationship will be different.

Polyamorous relationship types influence whether or not cohabitation is wise or viable. While there are too many combinations to cover them all, there are some common types that can give you an idea of how living together isn’t always the way to go.

Primary partners, for example, often live with their significant other. If you’re a primary partner, it means your partner considers you their number one companion. They can have other relationships, but those are considered secondary, and usually not as much time and effort are involved.

If you’re the secondary partner – known as being the third in a polyamorous relationship – it doesn’t mean there’s any less commitment involved. It just means that in general, you and your partner’s lives aren’t as interconnected, and things like living together aren’t a part of the relationship.

A “V” relationship is a frequently seen one in polyamory. The letter represents the primary and secondary partner connected by the partner they share, or the “hinge.” The two partners are only connected by this common partner and sometimes never even see each other.

Myth 4: You Have to Be Polyamorous to Be Part of a Poly Relationship

What does a polyamorous relationship mean if you only want to be with one person?

This is a confusing aspect of polyamory, and understandably so. Do you have to be polyamorous yourself to be part of a poly relationship – does getting into one automatically make you poly?

Polyamory is about not putting hard rules on things, so the simple answer is yes – you can be a monogamous person yourself while in a poly relationship. This would mean you’re in a monogamous relationship with a polyamorous person without having other relationships yourself. They’re allowed to form other relationships but choose not to.

The reality is that this is rather uncommon because most monogamous people prefer it to be monogamous all around. It is, however, one of the many possibilities of a polyamorous relationship.

Myth 5: It’s Impossible to Go from Monogamy to Polyamory

It can seem scary and daunting, but almost everyone who is polyamorous started out with monogamous relationships.

How do polyamorous relationships work when you’ve been nothing but monogamous? How to be in a polyamorous relationship that was formerly monogamous?

The key to both questions lies in keeping the lines of communications open, setting up healthy and fair boundaries, and keeping manipulation out of the equation.

To transition into a poly relationship, the best way to start is to talk. Get an understanding of each party’s needs and motives. 

While rules aren’t always the best way to go, boundaries are completely acceptable, especially in the beginning. If you’re the one in a monogamous relationship who wants to change the dynamic to poly, you can’t expect the other party to be able to dive in head-first. Slow steps and easing into things is essential. 

You also have to be prepared for your significant other to decide this isn’t for them and walk out at any time. Manipulating them or guilting them into staying in a situation that doesn’t work for them is toxic and selfish. If you’re at the receiving end of this, you don’t have to stick around just to make someone else happy.

What if you’re already single and looking to try out polyamory?

Things might be significantly easier when you don’t have to get someone else on board. You can find a polyamorous relationship with a person who already understands and agrees with the dynamic of poly relationships.

Myth 6: It Works for Everyone

Polyamory can work great for some, and terribly for others. It all comes down to individual values, beliefs, and needs.

So if you find yourself thinking, “my husband wants a polyamorous relationship, and I’m not so sure,” remember that this is a situation that cannot be forced if it is to work.

It might sound like you’re left with no choice if the person you love gives you two options: get on board with this or be single. Sometimes, it does reach that ultimatum. If you don’t honestly believe you can be happy in a poly relationship, it might be best to walk away.

What about open relationships? Do those work any better or worse?

A polyamorous relationship vs. open relationship has one big difference. Polyamory involves more than one romantic, close, loving relationship. An open relationship is typically when two partners seek purely sexual relationships outside of the main one.

This is also something that can work for many but is a fiasco for others. Like polyamory, it requires vast amounts of communication, trust, and some basic ground rules.

Things to Consider

You can define a polyamorous relationship as romantic relationships with more than one person at a time. It can mean three people in a relationship with each other, one person dating four different people, or four people all involved together. Those are just a few examples of polyamorous relationships.

We’ve answered what’s a polyamorous relationship, and covered several common myths about them. Now what?

Weighing the pros and cons of a polyamorous relationship is an important task before you explore the possibilities of such an arrangement. There is no trick for how to make a polyamorous relationship work. Being honest, open, and respectful are all important prerequisites.

Most importantly of all, it can’t be forced. Trying to push someone – or even yourself – into a poly relationship doesn’t work.

And spoiler alert: knowing how to have a polyamorous relationship in Sims 4 doesn’t exactly prepare you for it in real life.