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Discovering Polyamory

discovering polyamory

Polyamory – from Greek poly, ‘many, several’, and Latin amor, ‘love’. Someone who is polyamorous will either have, or be open to having, more than one romantic relationship at a time, with the understanding and consent of all involved.

Can you love more than one person at a time?

This question is often asked, and assumes we only have a select amount of love to give. A lot of people, polyamorous or not, believe this isn’t actually the case. Many in the polyamorous community believe that the more giving you are with love with more than just one person, the greater your love becomes as a whole.

But that being said, that doesn’t mean that all relationships are perfect, and isn’t an excuse to do whoever or whatever you like. Those in polyamorous relationships will often discuss ground rules to ensure everyone is comfortable and to set out what behaviour is OK, and what is not.

How is polyamory different from an open relationship?

Polyamory is considered the same as an open relationship – however, that is not necessarily the case, although both are considered non-monogamous.

With polyamory, the point is to have multiple relationships – as love and emotional connections are the driving forces.

PolyamoryWhat are the benefits of being polyamorous? 

Polyamory is the ability to have more creative sexual experiences with other partners. If you don’t think monogamy is realistic then polyamory could be perfect for you.

For many, it involves widening your social circles with your new partners, aka your poly family so it is great for socialising.  

It’s important to note that polyamory relies on honesty for it to work; there are often no secrets between partners.

What are the downsides of being poly? 

While it may seem like you’ve hit jackpot at first, it can be stressful to have multiple love-lives to manage. Arguments and tension can arise if your partners don’t feel their needs are being met or that another partner is being favourited.

It can be time consuming and restrictive to manage your love-life in this way. Get ready for the tears. It can be emotionally draining to be vulnerable with so many people.

Types Of Polyamorous Relationships

There are several different combinations that can occur in polyamorous relationships. They can be range from simple ones that include only three people, or complex ones that include group marriage with secondary partners outside the marriage.

Here are the different types of polyamorous relationships:

  • “V” type – one person is the centre of the relationship. Two people have a romantic relationship with that central person, but they don’t have a romantic relationship with each other.
  • Triad – includes three people in a committed relationship with each other.
  • Quad – includes four persons who are in a romantic relationship together. Not all partners have to be involved with each other. For example, Josh and Jessica may date Bob and Betty. Jessica and Betty are bisexual and involved with each other, whereas Josh and Bob are not. However, all four of them may participate in group intercourse.
  • Full Quad – includes four bisexual people who are in a romantic relationship and date everyone within the group.
  • Group marriage – any polyamorous combination which includes partners agreeing to a life commitment to each other. All partners are considered primaries.
  • Polycule – a very complex polyamorous relationship which involves primaries and secondaries. People in this type of relationship do not have to be linked to all of the others involved in the relationship. This type of relationship can include a group marriage between people who have secondary partners in another polyamorous relationship. For example, Betty is in a committed relationship with Josh and Jessica. John and Jessica are married, but Jessica has another boyfriend named Bob. Such a polyamorous relationship can be as large as the partners want it to be.


Supporting a Polygamous Loved One

If a friend or family member “comes out” to you as polyamorous, being welcoming and non-judgmental goes a long way. Don’t question the reality of it — ‘this must be a phase, you must be delusional’ are troublesome questions many get asked. Instead, try inviting their partner or partners to events and even consider giving that person a small gift may help also to making them feel welcome.

Ultimately, it’s important to remember that polyamorous relationships are relationships, even if they look a little different from yours. Relationships in general are fluid. Even monogamous relationships change, or end, or grow.

Shannon Halliwell (She/Her)
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