Polyamory is the practice of, or desire for, intimate relationships with more than one partner, with the consent of all partners involved. It has been described as "consensual, ethical, and responsible non-monogamy". People who identify as polyamorous believe in an open relationship with a conscious management of jealousy; they reject the view that sexual and relational exclusivity are necessary for deep, committed, long-term loving relationships.
To be polyamorous means to have open intimate or romantic relationships with more than one person at a time. People who are polyamorous can be heterosexual, lesbian, gay, or bisexual, and relationships between polyamorous people can include combinations of people of different sexual orientations.
Unlike open relationships, polyamory is characterized by emotional as well as sexual or romantic intimacy between partners. In contrast to infidelity, adultery, or extramarital sex, polyamory is consensual and disclosed to everyone involved.
Sometimes polyamorous relationships are hierarchical (one relationship takes priority over others) and sometimes they are equal. In a hierarchical scenario, a person may have a primary as well as secondary partners:
Primary: A primary partner is at the top of the hierarchical structure; this person may be the person with whom you live, have kids with, or even marry. A primary partner is not necessary for polyamorous relationships.
Secondary: Secondary partner(s) may not be as intertwined in your life as a primary partner; for example, you may not share housing or finances but you may still be fully committed to each other.
While the boundaries in polygamous relationships are quite different from those for monogamous relationships, they still exist.
People in polyamorous relationships may or may not be married, although people who identify as polyamorous may reject the restrictions of the social convention of marriage, and particularly, the limitation to one partner.
Polyamory is excellent for people that are attracted to multiple different sexual identities, it’s also great for people that do not feel fulfilled in monogamous relationships. While there are many benefits to polyamorous relationships, there are some complications too. Because there are more people involved, and because they are less openly discussed, polyamorous relationships can be trickier to navigate than monogamous relationships.
Polyamorous relationships evolve and change over time just like monogamous relationships. When you are in polyamorous relationships, its important to check in with your partner to make sure that you are on the same page about how the relationship is going. And if things aren’t going well, or your needs have shifted, don’t be afraid to change the terms of your relationship as long as your partner consents to these changes as well.
Many people believe that introducing polyamory into a failing relationship will solve your relationship problems. But this couldn’t be further from the truth. Introducing more people into the relationship will only exacerbate these problems. Like we said before, make sure that you are considering polyamory for the right reasons - fixing your relationship problems is NOT one of those reasons.
Polyamory will often force people to re-evaluate their concepts of relationships, intimacy and love, which can be a lot to deal with. It’s important to recognize that as you are dealing with these emotions, your partners are as well. Be sure to check in with your partners (especially emotionally intimate partners) to make sure that they are still excited by and invested in the relationship.