Sharing the love (and everything you need to know about poly pleasure)
on 4 Aug 2022
The idea of a polyamorous relationship isn’t for everyone. The standard social-acceptable route to a long-lasting relationship often ensues a period of dating, before finding the one then settling into a faithfully monogamous relationship.
While this has long been the traditional expected love scenario, times are swiftly changing and as we’ve become more open about our intimate connections, it seems we’re getting more adventurous about poly relationships too.
But what happens when the one becomes two? When the perfect dinner date is a table setting for four? And can you really link up with more than one person and be truly happy?
It seems at least 20% of us have been curious enough to find out. If it’s ever crossed your mind too, here’s our ultimate 101 guide on non-exclusive partnerships.
What is a poly relationship?
Polyamory (sometimes referred to as ‘ENM’ or ethical non-monogamy) is a relationship type that involves having an intimate or sexual relationship with more than one person. In some cases, all parties are involved with one another; other times, certain people within the dynamic may share a connection but remain uninvolved with other partners.
At all times, ethical non-monogamy is consensual, and such relationships are built on the foundations of trust, open communication and lots of honesty. Not all ENM relationships are sexual, but many are.
What it isn’t
Despite more and more of us finding love and happiness in poly relationships, such dynamics can still be considered by some as an act of cheating or infidelity – but that’s not the case.
Where ethical non-monogamy applies, all partners involved are aware of each other’s intentions and are consenting for any sexual or romantic connections that their lovers may experience with someone else.
Types of poly relationships
Polyamory is a very personal experience and for each couple, throuple or group – the dynamic and set-up is determined by those exclusively involved. Polyamorous configurations can vary dramatically, but here are a few examples of how multiple-person relationships can work.
Do I want a polyamorous relationship?
Only you can really know (and even then, sometimes you don’t!). The idea of having more than one partner can seem thrilling, but occasionally, the reality can be quite different. No matter how open you think you might be, it’s natural to experience feelings of inadequacy, jealousy or to feel threatened by a third partner becoming part of your relationship.
Many polyamorous people can admit to feeling this way at times, but have found ways to manage their challenges for a healthier relationship.
Still, it’s not for everyone, but then neither is exclusivity and if you feel a desire to build romantic connections with multiple people, then ethical non-monogamy could be your one-way ticket to relationship happiness.
Thinking to take the plunge? Here are our top tips for a successful, happy and long-lasting poly dynamic.
Tips for successful a polyamorous relationship
Research into poly relationships
Poly is not a one-size-fits all approach to maintaining a good, strong relationship. There are so many different ways to enjoy a relationship with multiple people, from open doors and swinging, to closed triads working together in a committed three-way.
Before deciding to take the path to polyamory, you’ll want to do a small bit of background research into how these dynamics differ from those of more traditional couples. If you’re already dating, or in a relationship, it may be a good idea to do this activity together.
Don’t make your decision for the wrong reasons
Just as there are many different types of poly relationships, there are many different reasons people choose to pursue one. The only real advice here is to make sure you’re choosing poly for the right reasons.
Making the decision as a way to ‘mend’ or ‘heal’ cracks within your current relationship usually won’t end well, so check in that both of you are feeling good about the current status of where you each are. Whether you’re single or coupled already, considering things like if you’ll have the time and capacity to date more than one person is also important.
Communicate your desires
Once you know that poly is something you definitely would like to try, you’ll need to start opening up the conversation. Be honest in your communication and detail what your ideas, desires and hopes for a poly relationship are.
Is ENM for you, about finding multiple personalities that sync with your own? Is it something you want to explore sexually, or do you wish to keep your romantic connections less physical? The more honest you (and your partner if it applies), can be, the better your chance of finding happiness.
Set ground rules and boundaries
Don’t kid yourself into thinking you’ll be grand with almost anything. Just because you’re opening the door to your relationship, it doesn’t mean that you can’t maintain certain expectations. Maybe it’s that you won’t date people that are mutual friends, that there’s a limit on the amount of sexual partners, or that you keep each other’s business relatively private.
Whatever your boundaries, work it all out before steaming ahead.
Trust and be trusted
Once the ground work is done, it’s time to trust the process. Give your partner the autonomy needed to make the decisions that align with your earlier conversations. Trust that they’ll stand by their word, honour your current relationship and look after your best interests.
In the same way, make sure that you’re giving the same back to your partner. Any relationship requires mutual effort, so give as much as you expect back.
Talk about your feelings
You might find your poly adventure goes without a single hitch, but it’s not always smooth-sailing. If feelings of inadequacy or jealousy come to the surface, it’s best to talk it through and move forward with a solution. Even if you feel no threat at all, it’s natural to have feelings and emotions as you develop and establish new connections. Keep the conversation open and remember to check in regularly.
Rework the kama sutra
In some poly dynamics, it’s natural for more than two people to be involved together sexually but what happens when the kama sutra doesn’t cater for your multiple-person sex sessions? Hold fire, we’ve got you covered!
If you’re wondering about which positions are best for a three-way tango, or thinking about the best way to use well the space of your super Queen bed, here’s our round up of poly-proof sex positions. Simply change it up and adapt them to make them work for you. Steamy!
Top 3 Polyamorous Sex Positions
5 Minute Myth Buster
Polyamory is for people who just want a lot of sex
Having one or more partners may mean you have more sex with more people, but this doesn’t necessarily ring true for all poly relationships. Some poly dynamics aren’t even sexual at all. Having a multi-partner set-up can open the door for deeper connections, extended friendships – and just as there is with monogamy, plenty of love, respect and even family involvement too.
Polyamorous people haven’t found ‘the one’
There could be some truth here in the sense that poly people don’t necessarily believe in the notion of there being only ‘one true love’. Instead, they are often open to the idea of loving multiple people with the same ferocity, feeling and emotion as monogamous people may choose to invest in just one person. For others practicing poly, there could be primary or nesting partner who is their one true love, and then one or more other partners with whom they share different dynamics with. This can sometimes be referred to as ‘hierarchy polyamory’.
Polyamory is about group sex
Do some poly people enjoy group sex? Yes. There are relationship dynamics within the poly-sphere where multiple partners may engage in sexual activity together but in fact, it’s more common practice for poly people to keep their sexual relationships separate from each partner. Of course, there’s no right or wrong way to practice poly, but it wouldn’t be factual to assume that all poly people engage in mass orgies!
Polyamorous people don't have lasting relationships
Whether you’re partnered with one person, two or more, any long-lasting relationship is built on the foundations of trust, respect and compatibility. Despite the common misconception that polyamorous people are ‘commitment phobes’ , many go on to have long-lasting fulfilling relationships with the people that make them happy.
Polyamorous people are more prone to STIs
Sex with any one person can be risky, multiply the person-count and it could be considered that risk rises, but generally, polyamorists tend to be very risk aware. This is because they need to consider the health and well-being of multiple people, and the consequences of being too relaxed when it comes to sexual health, could not only impact them, but also one or several others too. Non-monogamous relationships require a great deal of trust and transparency, which can make their sexual relationships even safer.
Top 5 toys for polyamorous people