Nowadays, people worldwide are being more open and more adventurous. People now want to explore the depths of life and experiment with its various components.
This experimentation would not allow our interpersonal relationships go untouched.
Traditional relationship models are being challenged and new models are being built.
In this article, we’ll talk all about polyamorous relationships. It means to be in a polyamorous relationship, how relationship models are influenced, and how love and sex can define a romantic relationship. We’ll also share some tips to assist you in deciding if a polyamorous relationship can be right for you.
Defining The Polyamorous Relationship
What is a polyamorous relationship?
It’s a relationship model- falling under the non-monogamy umbrella- in which both partners are free to have romantic or/and sexual relationships with other partners. This definition is a bit loose, but you’ll see it’s kind of difficult to strictly define this type of relationship because it may take many forms.
It can all be about sex. Or it can all be about dating other people but not having sex with them. It can be about quad dating, a couple dating another couple. The variations are truly limitless.
Let’s get into some more details and examples so we can better explain how a polyamorous relationship can practically work.
Mutual Consent Is Crucial
A mutual agreement from both partners has to be reached in order for a polyamorous relationship to work. Different couples can agree on different terms and ways to be in such a relationship.
One partner can be in a relationship with someone outside of their current one. Both partners can date other people or bring just one other person into their relationship etc.
Is A Polyamorous Relationship An Open Relationship?
Usually, an open relationship is all about being allowed to have sex with people outside of one’s current relationship. So, no emotional attachment happens outside of the established relationship.
In polyamorous relationships, the borders are often not defined clearly. It can be all about sex and take the form of an open relationship but it can also include emotional intimacy.
You could say that an open relationship can present itself as a category of the polyamorous relationship model.
Polyamorous Relationships VS Monogamy VS Polygamy
Ask anyone about what monogamy means and they’ll tell you it means being in a relationship with a single person and only having sex with them.
It’s quite correct but to be super precise, the word monogamy originates from the Greek word “GAMOS” which means “marriage” and the word “MONO” which means “one”. Monogamy means to be married and devoted both emotionally and sexually to a single person.
Non-monogamy is freely used today as a word to describe a person who wants to have sexual relationships outside of her current relationship. In this notion, a polyamorous relationship is a non-monogamy relationship. But, of course, you don’t have to get married first to be in a polyamorous relationship.
Polygamy is very different and refers to multiple sexual affairs. The word was originally used to describe marriages where a husband was allowed by his religion to acquire more than one wives.
By definition, polygamy is the opposite of monogamy. The word itself originates from the synthesis of two smaller Greek words: “POLY” which means “A lot of” and “GAMOS” which means “marriage”. Therefore polygamy refers to a status of being married to many spouses.
Polyamorous Relationships And Cheating
A polyamorous relationship is based upon mutual consent. However, being in this type of relationship does not mean that you’re free to do anything you want or that it’s impossible to cheat.
This type of relationship is quite flexible and doesn’t present any gender limitations. Although polyamory can be tempting at first glance, you have to be a mature person to get into a relationship like that.
That is because respect has to be a determining factor. If you don’t respect what you and your partner have agreed upon, then you might as well be cheating. Polyamory has to have its own rules. Rule number one is to respect your partner.
Main Influences Of Relationship Models
Two main factors influence the relationship models we follow. Religion and society.
What religion used to command, society used to enforce by social pressure. For better or worse, now that everyday people are shifting their beliefs about what religion means to them, religion’s influence on relationships is getting weaker or people are finding what better suits them individually.
More and more we see the world is beginning to be more open to some changes in the area of interpersonal relationships.
Love And Sex In A Polyamorous Relationship
Love and sex are both parts of a healthy relationship and normally they are interconnected to each other. This interconnection may change into a polyamorous relationship.
Can one live without the other? Yes, they certainly can.
Concerning sex, we can’t deny that we are biological beings equipped with strong desires. Can we have sex without loving someone? Some people can’t, but others can.
When it comes to love, it’s found in many forms. Friendship, brotherhood, teammates, everything. You don’t have to necessarily have sex with someone to show them that you love them.
Setting boundaries is necessary in polyamory so you don’t get lost. You and your partner have to know what it is about, creating a yes, no, maybe list may help. Communication is key in this area. As we already discussed, polyamorous relationships are not cheating-free.
DECIDING IF A POLYAMOROUS RELATIONSHIP IS RIGHT FOR YOU
If you are considering to start a polyamorous relationship but you’re not sure yet, take a look at our checklist below and make it certain you understand your emotional needs before getting any further.
1) There is a difference from thought to action.
Something that plays out in our minds in a certain way will not play out in the same way on the external world. More often, people view relationships as a romantic movie into their heads but in reality things may take up another route.
Are you sure you and your partner can overcome possible jealousy? Are you sure you can both handle polyamory? Do you love your current partner or are you looking for a way to escape while having a safety net at the same time?
2) Define what you really want. Is it just sex and fun? Is it support and emotional sharing? Is it lack of support in your current relationship that motivates you to think about polyamory?
What you really want can guide you on what is right for you. Understand the emotional or situational forces that drive you into considering a polyamorous relationship.
As we said, best decisions come out of mature thought.
3) Can you and your partner handle the boundaries you’ll set?
Polyamory has to be a game of mutual respect. If you are not able to respect the rules you have set, there is a chance you end up ending it or divorced. If that’s not what you want, then be cautious with your partner’s feelings.
4) You have to be emotionally mature before starting polyamory.
I know we said that too many times but it’s very important. You have to be ready for anything that can go wrong or right. Two key pillars in relationships are trust and commitment, which in turn have layers in between.
For example, maybe you and your partner agreed into polyamory. You start dating other people and have fun at first but then your partner backs up. What will you do in that case?
Being emotionally mature means knowing what matters to you the most. Having emotional priorities is like having a GPS into an unknown large city. Know what your emotional end goal is and you may rest assure you can handle what’s in front of you.
5) If you have problems in your relationships, polyamory will not solve them.
Polyamory is not a problem solver. It’s a neutral amplifier. If you are trying to save your current relationship by getting into polyamory, chances are you will not succeed.
If, on the other hand, you are in a happy relationship in which you both want to try it, chances are you’ll at least have fun. In case polyamory is not right for you, you’ll safely go back to your previous relationship status. Just because you try it does not mean it will be there forever.
We talked about a lot in this article and I wish you enjoyed it as much as I did.
To sum everything up, polyamory is a relationship model that is gaining popularity in its different variations. It’s up to you to decide if it is something that can work for you as well.
Love and sex play their own roles into a polyamorous relationship and we’ve also seen that cheating can still be a negative attribute in polyamory.
Finally, being emotionally mature and knowing yourself and what you really need, can guide you through the process of accepting or denying this relationship model in your own life.
Veaux, Franklin and Rickert, Eve. (2014). More than two: A practical guide to ethical polyamory. USA: Thorntree Press.
Easton, Dossie and Liszt, Catherine. (1997). The ethical slut: A guide to infinite sexual possibilities. USA: Greenery Press.
Sheff, Elizabeth. (2016). When someone you love is polyamorous: Understanding poly people and relationships. USA: Thorntree Press.