How to Tell if Polyamorous Relationships Are Right for You

7 minutes read -
Shannon Terrell
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People in a polyamorous relationships sitting in a cafe
Table of Contents
Summary: People tend to have many misconceptions about polyamory. Discover everything you need to know about being in polyamorous relationships.

Have you ever heard of polyamorous relationships or polyamory? Would you ever give such a relationship a try? Or do you believe that people should only be in monogamous relationships?

According to Dan Savage, author of the famous column Savage Love, there is no correct type of love and relationship. People should look inside themselves and determine what type of relationship is right for them.

On top of that, there are things we get wrong about love and relationships, to begin with.

So, what exactly are polyamorous relationships, and how can you know if polyamory is right for you? To answer these questions, here’s what you need to know:

There is no perfect type of relationship as every type has its pros and cons. And only you can make this choice for yourself.

What Does a Polyamory Relationship Mean?

Polyamory is the practice of engaging in multiple intimate relationships with the consent of all the people involved. Many people compare polyamory to cheating or swinging. But, in reality, polyamory is quite different.

Cheating means breaking the rules. If your partner doesn’t agree with including other people in your relationship, then you are cheating.

In a polyamorous relationship, everyone knows about and agrees to the involvement of other people in the relationship. And, even if it may not seem so, there are rules in polyamorous relationships as well.

On the other hand, the focus of swinging is mostly on having recreational intercourse with other people. In polyamorous relationships, the focus is on developing bonds to and building a romantic relationship with more than one person at the same time.

Being aware of how polyamory works can help you understand that relationships do not come in “one size fits all.”

Group of people in relationships

What is an open relationship?

Some people believe that open and polyamorous relationships are one and the same because both are non-monogamous. But, there is one key difference between these two types of relationships.

An open relationship is a relationship between two people who agree to have sex but not romantic relationships with other people. Each couple defines their rules of “openness” in their relationship. Dan Savage is in an open relationship with his partner, and he states that the key to having a successful open relationship lies in communication.

There are several different styles of open relationships:

  • Multi-partner relationships – include three or more partners, and a sexual relationship does not occur between all of the involved persons.
  • Hybrid relationships – include one monogamous and one non-monogamous partner.
  • Swinging – singles or partners in a committed relationship engage in sexual activities with other people as a recreational activity.

Therefore, polyamorous relationships and open relationships should are not the same thing.

The common misconception is that a polyamorous relationship, just like an open relationship, includes one couple who has some fun on the side. However, polyamory means loving more than one person.

A person in a polyamorous relationship is committed to more than one partner with no hierarchy. On the other hand, there is a hierarchy and a core couple at the heart of every open relationship.

What Is It Like to Be in a Polyamorous Relationship?

Polyamorous relationships work differently for everyone. Just like regular relationships.

There is no strict set of rules you have to follow. Polyamorous relationships are all about how you (and your partners) want it to work.

Therefore, as is the case with any other relationship, discussion, and mutual understanding are key.

Do polyamorous relationships last?

The answer to this question entirely depends on you and your partners.

As mentioned, polyamorous relationships are based on mutual love, understanding, respect, and discussion. It’s all up to the persons involved and how they feel about their relationship.

There are no preset rules or regulations. Whether or not a polyamorous relationship lasts is at the discretion of those involved.

Are polyamorous relationships illegal?

Loving more than one person or having multiple relationships at a time is not illegal. You can be in a relationship with whomever you like and love whomever you want.

But, there is a catch. When it comes to marriage, most countries do not recognize anything apart from monogamous marriage between two people only.

So, if you are in a committed relationship with more than one person, it may not be recognized by your country’s government.

Types of Polyamorous Relationships

There are several different combinations that can occur in polyamorous relationships. They can range from simple ones that include only three people, or complex ones that include group marriage with secondary partners outside the marriage.

You need to decide what type of relationship you want and share this with your partners. If your partners are looking for a long-term relationship and you want something casual, conflicts may arise. In a polyamorous relationship, everyone should be on the same page and agree to have another partner.

Here are the different types of polyamorous relationships:

  • “V” type – one person is the center of the relationship. Two people have a romantic relationship with that central person, but they don’t have a romantic relationship with each other.
  • Triad – includes three people in a committed relationship with each other.
  • Quad – includes four persons who are in a romantic relationship together. Not all partners have to be involved with each other. For example, Josh and Jessica may date Bob and Betty. Jessica and Betty are bisexual and involved with each other, whereas Josh and Bob are not. However, all four of them may participate in group intercourse.
  • Full Quad – includes four bisexual people who are in a romantic relationship and date everyone within the group.
  • Group marriage – any polyamorous combination which includes partners agreeing to a life commitment to each other. All partners are considered primaries.
  • Polycule – a very complex polyamorous relationship that involves primaries and secondaries. People in this type of relationship do not have to be linked to all of the others involved in the relationship. This type of relationship can include a group marriage between people who have secondary partners in another polyamorous relationship. For example, Betty is in a committed relationship with Josh and Jessica. John and Jessica are married, but Jessica has another boyfriend on the side named Bob. Such a polyamorous relationship can be as large as the partners want it to be.
Young friends checking their phones

Advantages of Polyamorous Relationships

Now it’s time to explore the pros and cons of polyamory. Just like a monogamous relationship has its advantages and disadvantages, so does a polyamorous relationship.

Here are some of the advantages of polyamory.

1. Ability to have multiple partners

When you are in a polyamorous relationship, you can love as many people as you want to. You will never have to worry about breaking someone’s heart just because you want to be in a relationship with more than one person. In addition, having multiple partners will reward you with many new experiences.

2. No cheating

If you are in a polyamorous relationship, you can be intimate with more than one person and not feel guilty about it. However, you still need to discuss boundaries with all involved partners. Even if you are in a polyamorous relationship, that doesn’t mean you can sleep with whomever you want.

3. Greater support network

There is nothing better than being supported by the person you are in love with. Now, imagine how amazing that support will be if it comes from more than one partner. Being in polyamorous relationships creates a stronger support network, both physical and emotional. For example, your partner may provide emotional support for your problems at work, or physical support when you get the flu.

The main polyamory theory is that the more you are loved, the more you will be able to accept love. In turn, this will also make you a better support system for other people.

4. More adventures

If you are intimate with more than one person, then you are very likely to experience a variety of adventures. By adventures, we do not necessarily mean sexual adventures (although they are essential as well), but also life adventures. You will be close to more than one person and each person will probably have different interests and traits.

A group in polyamorous relationship

Disadvantages of Polyamorous Relationships

Unfortunately, being in a polyamorous relationship has some downsides as well.

Here are the most common disadvantages of polyamorous relationships.

1. Polyamorous relationships are not always socially accepted

Monogamy is the most popular relationship type. Some people believe that you should only be intimate with one person at a time. Your friends and family might not accept your decision to be involved with more than one person at the same time. Being in a polyamorous relationship is unacceptable in some societies and religions, and it might be quite challenging to withstand the judgment of people around you.

2. Jealousy

Polyamory does not mean that there won’t be any jealousy. If you’re in a “V” type relationship and one of your partners is monogamous, there is a high chance that they will also be jealous. You should always have deep conversations with all of your partners and try to come up with ways to deal with jealousy. Also, jealousy might occur if all people in the relationship are polygamous. This doesn’t mean that you are “bad at polyamory.” It simply means that you are human.

3. Balancing several partners

Polyamory creates a bigger support network, but it also means that you will be faced with dealing with the lives of several people at once. In addition, one of the toughest challenges of polyamorous relationships is balancing the schedules and needs of different partners. One partner may need more attention than the other, and you must find a solution in which no one gets hurt. If you notice that one of your partners is unhappy, try out one of these tips that will energize your love relationships.

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Shannon Terrell

Shannon Terrell

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