Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Polyamory
on 29 Dec 2016
In the last few years, the term, 'polyamory' has begun to appear more and more in the media. But what does it mean?
To put it super simply, polyamory is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as, 'the practice of engaging in multiple sexual relationships with the consent of all the people involved'.
Whilst this is true, polyamory is also so much more than that.
So, with this in mind, we've collected some of the most common questions about polyamory to show you what it's all about.
Read on to see more.
So what is polyamory?
Similar to how many in the LGBT+ community use 'queer' as an umbrella term for all that fall under the LGBT+ banner, polyamory is an umbrella term covering a variety of relationship dynamics, all with the common theme of openly involving more than two partners.
The simple example of one of these is what's sometimes referred to as a triad - a relationship involving three partners, all in a relationship with each other.
In contrast to this, there is the relationship type known as a 'V', which also involves three people. In a 'V', one person has two different partners who are both aware and accepting of each other, but who aren't in a direct relationship themselves. A 'V' can be an open relationship, so someone involved in one might also have other partners in different relationships at the same time.
How can polyamorous relationships work?
The most important thing to note about polyamory is that, just like monogamy, it is founded on a basis of communication, trust and honesty.
If you have two partners who both think they're the only one then that's not polyamory, that's cheating.
In the summary of a 'V' there was mention of open and closed relationships, and when engaging in a polyamorous relationship it is essential to clearly communicate with all involved which of these the relationship is.
Simply, if the relationship is open, then all partners are free to be involved with other people outside of the relationship, without bringing these new partners into the initial relationship.
A closed relationship, however, is different in that all partners agree that the relationship is exclusive, so if John was in a closed triad relationship with Beth and Chris but then had sex with Lucy, who is not in the relationship, this would be cheating, just as it would be in a closed monogamous relationship.
What's the difference between a primary and secondary relationship?
In more complex polyamorous relationships, especially those involving more than three people, there is often the concept of the primary relationship and the secondary relationships.
If Josh and Ellie are married and decide to introduce a third person, Alex, to the relationship, they might agree that their marriage remains the primary relationship and their relationships with Alex are to be the secondary relationship.
The primary relationship typically maintains the bulk of the emotional investment and commitment, and is seen as the priority.
One more common type of polyamorous relationship comes about when a monogamous couple end up in a long distance relationship.
In this situation, it is not uncommon for the couple to agree to function as a polyamorous relationship and see other people, but with the condition that their initial relationship strictly remains the primary and that the secondary relationships are only for as long as the couple are apart.
Whilst this might sound messy and emotionally complex, it can be a great way to cope with long distance relationships as long as all parties involved are openly communicative and honest.
It might be seen by some as 'greedy' or 'promiscuous', but polyamory is far from any of the above. For those who engage in polyamory maturely and responsibly, it can be just as fun, fulfilling and exciting as any monogamous relationship.
The ViBlogger is a student at the University of Leeds, where he studies Astrophysics. When he's not writing for The Sextbook, he can usually be found in a Yorkshire field reenacting the 12th century.
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