What is Polyamory Anyway?

Introduction
Polyamory means “many loves” and the name is indicative of the practice. Instead of a monogamous relationship polyamorous people have meaningful romantic relationships with multiple people.
Polyamory requires a ton of communication between partners, emotional maturity and keeping tabs on jealousy.


Types of Alternative Relationships:

In practice, there are many different ways people practice polyamorous relationships. Off the top of my head there are:

Hierarchical polyamorous relationships-
In my experiences, this is the most common type of poly relationship I come across. People typically have a primary relationship which can be the person most important to them, the one they have the most serious relationship with, the one who they dedicate most time to, the one they are married to, have kids with, or live with. Whatever makes a primary is different in every relationship. Then beyond that people will have secondaries or tertiaries. There can be many others or just one other. Depending on the person, these are romantic relationships that they spend a little less time with, but may be just as serious or important!

Polyfidelity relationships-
Most of the time polyfidelity relationships are between three people (triads) or four (quads), but can be any configuration. They are characterized by more than two people who have relationships with each other, but are exclusive with the rest of the world. So if you had two girls and a guy in a triad they could all be romantic with and sleep with each other, but wouldn’t want that type of relationship outside of themselves. There are a million different configurations of this type of relationship (triangles, V’s, hinges…) as well.

Solo poly relationships-
Solo poly is the only type of relationship I haven’t tried so I will attempt to do it justice! Those who practice solo poly vary in that they don’t necessarily have a relationship that “comes first”. They resemble single people in this way. Some see themselves as their primary or have a best friend that they see the most but aren’t romantic with. Usually, they aren’t married or living with a partner. However, this doesn’t mean that they also don’t have deep, serious relationships.

Open Relationships-
Some people consider open relationships to be a type of polyamory. I don’t, not because they are any less valid, but because they have more a sexual focus. The difference between an open relationship and polyamory is usually that an open relationship is marked by multiple sexual relationships while polyamory is marked by multiple romantic relationships.

Swinging (Key Party, Swapping)-
Some people consider open relationships to be a type of polyamory. I don’t, not because they are any less valid, but because they have more a sexual focus. Swinging is characterized by romantic partners who switch partners with another couple or group for casual sex. Emotional connections are usually avoided with sex partners though they may be friends

Relationship Anarchy –
Relationship anarchists don’t follow relationship rules set by society. There are many ways to define this and there are many different ways I’ve heard this explained. Relationship anarchists make relationships and boundaries that work for the people actually in the relationship. Relationship anarchists often focus on valuing nonromantic or nonsexual relationships as society often overlooks the value of these relationships.

Some people don’t fit into any of these categories, but these will help you to understand how some people practice polyamory.

Some Terms You May Come Across Defined:
Androgynous- Having the characteristics or nature of both male and female

Bisexual- attraction to more than one gender, and/or attraction to genders that are similar to oneself and dissimilar from oneself

Closed Relationship- Relationships that do not allow outside sexual or romantic relationships.

Compersion- Feeling joy or pleasure from your partner’s happiness that is derived from their metamours. Basically the opposite of jealousy!

FOMO- Acronym that means Fear Of Missing Out on events that other poly partners may be involved in without them.

Friends With Benefits (FWB)- Two or more friends who have a sexual relationship without being emotionally involved.

Gender binary- The incorrect assumption that everyone is either a man or woman and there is no variation.

Genderqueer- The identity that lies outside of just male or female.

Hierarchy- A poly relationship where all partners are not equal in some way.

Metamour- The partner of your partner who you have no sexual or romantic relationship with.

New Relationship Energy (NRE)- Relationship energy that usually occurs in a new relationship. Characterized with high erotic or emotional energy.

Pansexual- attraction to all sexes and/or genders and/or attraction is “gender-blind”

Paramour- A lover

Polyfidelity- A closed relationship with more than two people

Spice- (I learned this one today and it is awesome) The plural of spouse.

Triad- A relationship that involves three people that have a romantic relationship with each other

Unicorn- A “mythical” female that some couples seek. She is supposed to be equally attracted to both male and female in the relationship

For more terms visit here.

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