Michelle (not her real name)
A young writer from the US.
What is Polyamory?
When it comes to relationships, there isn’t simply monogamy or polyamory. It’s a spectrum full of different relationship dynamics and identities. Being a part of a polyamorous relationship does not automatically mean you identify as polyamorous. In fact, there are many different ways to identify! Three of these identities are monogamous, ambiamorous, and polyamorous. Someone who is monogamous is interested in having only one partner at a time. Meanwhile, someone who is polyamorous wants to have multiple partners. They tend to fall for multiple people at a time and are capable of holding multiple relationships at once. Ambiamorous is right in between the two. Someone who is ambiamorous is comfortable having one or more partners at the same time.
Furthermore, someone who is monogamous usually will be in a relationship with a monogamous partner. However, this is not always the case. Though it is very tough, a healthy relationship can be had between a polyamorous person and a monogamous person. In which case, the monogamous partner will choose to only have one partner but is comfortable with their partner having other partners.
Polyamory is a noun meaning “the practice of engaging in multiple romantic/ sexual relationships with the consent of all people involved.” A poly relationship, simply put, is a relationship with multiple people involved. The cornerstones of these poly relationships are trust, communication, open-mindedness, and love.
In reality, a polyamorous relationship is not all that different from a monogamous one. A poly relationship depends on the same factors as a mono relationship, but to a greater extent. Without trust and efficient communication, you can’t have a healthy relationship in general, but it can cause even more problems in a polyamorous relationship.
The number one problem that arises is jealousy. Jealousy is a normal human emotion, and it doesn’t go away just because you have multiple partners. The feeling arises just as much as it would in a monogamous relationship. However, you can combat this by being honest with yourself, taking time to understand what you’re feeling and why, communicating with your partners, and having trust. Oftentimes jealousy stems from our own insecurities and taking the time to understand what is causing those feelings can go a long way. Not dealing with jealousy and letting it fester is a lot more likely to harm a polyamorous relationship than a monogamous relationship, being that there are a lot more situations likely to trigger those feelings.
Despite these challenges, there are still many polyamorous relationships, and not every poly relationship looks the same. In fact, they come in many different forms. These different forms are called polycules. A polycule is a network of people in a non-monogamous relationship. A couple, or ‘dyad’, is a relationship between two people where they are dating each other. This can be a relationship between two monogamous partners or any two people in a poly relationship. A ‘vee’ is a relationship made up of three people where one person dates two different people, but those two people don’t date each other. It is called a vee relationship because it is shaped like the letter V. A ‘triad’ is a relationship made up of three people where they are all dating each other. It is also known as a “trouple” and has become the most well-known type of polycule. Another example of a polycule is a ‘quad’. A quad is a relationship made up of 4 people where they are all dating each other. As you can see, there are many different types of polycules, and these relationships come in many different shapes and sizes that can combine to make a network of different interwoven relationships.
Similarly, these polycules can be open or closed. An open polycule is a polycule in which people are welcome to search for additional partners and enter into new relationships. On the other end is a closed polycule. A closed polycule, also known as a Polyfidelitous Relationship (Polyfi), is a relationship where they decide not to see people outside of their existing relationship networks. This usually happens once everyone in the relationship is satisfied with the number of partners and the relationship dynamics.
Whether open or closed, you typically have your metamours and telemours within a poly relationship. Your partners' other partners are your metamours. A telemour (meaning distant lover) is the partner of a metamour who is not your shared partner. However, the term telemour is used less commonly than metamour.
You can also have a nesting partner. This is a partner with whom one shares a home, and if you are in hierarchical polyamory, this is often also your primary partner. To clarify, people who practice hierarchical polyamory place more importance on one relationship above other relationships. In this case, a primary partner would often be prioritized above other relationships in regards to time commitments, vacations and holidays, going to family functions, and other important events. They are usually the partner that you share finances with, live with, or co-parent with. Therefore other partners would be considered secondary/tertiary. Nevertheless, not all poly relationships are hierarchical. Most are non-hierarchical and do not place any partner above the others. In this kind of dynamic, all partners are considered equal in importance.
In conclusion, a polyamorous relationship, in the simplest of words, is a consensual relationship between multiple people. However, polyamory is not one size fits all. It comes in many different shapes and sizes and can be very complex. Yet, there are many people who find that they prefer polyamory and are happiest with many partners. The important part is to surround yourself with people that make you happy and live your life to the fullest. Be prideful.
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