Even if you’re in a committed monogamous relationship, you’ve probably thought about how nice it would be to get some strange on the side. I mean, who hasn’t? It’s only natural, after all. While most of us resist the temptation to cheat, others don’t—often to the detriment of a healthy, satisfying relationship. Welcome to ‘polyamory’.
I don’t want to suggest that polyamory is a solution for wandering eyes, because it’s not. Unfortunately, plenty of people look at polyamory as a great way to open up their relationship and give them carte blanche to have indiscriminate sex with whomever they please. If that’s you, here’s a primer to set you straight and help you orient yourself in the complicated, often misunderstood world of ‘polyamory’.
What is ‘Polyamory’?
The word polyamory is a contraction of “poly,” Greek for many, and “amory,” Latin for love. To put it simply, keeping in mind that the topic is a pretty nuanced one, polyamory is a network of consensual non-monogamous relationships. And while some include sex, others might be based entirely on filling certain emotional needs. Whether you’re in a closed polyamorous relationship, which includes a group of partners that are mutually agreed upon, or one that is more open; they all have one thing in common: communication. Keep your eyes open here, while it sounds great, you’ll notice that gets complicated (organizing a threesome has about the same work, if not, less).
As in your typical monogamous arrangement, it’s important to establish terms of how a polyamorous relationship will work. For this, communication is absolutely essential. That’s why you have to be honest about what you want from the relationship: if it’s NSA (no strings attached) sex, that’s fine, but you also have to be sure that you’re okay with your partner doing the same. There’s no room for jealous types when it comes to non-monogomy.
Other considerations might include the kind of people you’ll be seeing: will it be close friends/FWB (friends with benefits), strangers, or will there be no limitations? The point is that things need to be clear to all parties involved and everybody has to be in agreement for it to work. As strange as it might sound to the monogamously minded, it is possible to cheat when you’re polyamorous. If you don’t respect the terms of your relationship and deviate from what you’ve agreed upon with your partners, then you’re a cheater. Just because you’re in a relationship with three or four people at the same time, doesn’t mean you have less respect to give each person. In fact, it’s just the opposite.
More Love = More Work
Polyamory can be rewarding and enriching. By forming romantic relationships with multiple people simultaneously, you might find yourself growing as an individual and becoming more empathetic. At the very least, you’ll learn to be less possessive. Nobody can argue that these aren’t good things.
Terri Conley, a psychologist at the University of Michigan, estimates that up to five percent of Americans are in a non-monogamous relationship of one form or another – a pretty substantial number when you think about it. It’s important to remember that most of these people are thoughtful, dedicated, curious to explore their own and other’s emotions and sexual tastes. They’re not looking to catch some strange on the sly.