Have you ever heard of polyamorous relationships or polyamory? Would you ever give such a relationship a try, or are you a follower of the belief that people should only be in monogamous relationships?
Dan Savage, the writer of the famous column Savage Love, states that there is no “correct” type of love and relationship. People should look inside themselves and determine what type of relationship is right for them. Some people assume that non-monogamy is practiced only by bad people. Because of this stereotype, they practice only monogamy and fail at it. But, besides the misconceptions about polaymorous relationships, there are also some things we get wrong about love and relationships in general.
There are pros and cons to every type of relationship. So, what exactly are polyamorous relationships? And, how can you know if polyamory is right for you?
What Is Polyamory?
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 perhaps swinging. But, in reality, it is completely different from those two.
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 actually rules in a polyamorous relationship 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 polyamory as something that is not negative is actually a great way to redefine your perception of a relationship. It should make you understand that relationships do not come in “one size fits all.”
What Is a Polyamorous Relationship?
Based on the definition above, a polyamorous relationship is a romantic and intimate relationship with more than one person. In order for such a relationship to work, all people involved in the relationship must agree to include the other people in the relationship.
What Is an Open Relationship?
Some people believe that open and polyamorous relationships are one and the same thing because both are non-monogamous relationships. But, there is one main difference between these two types of relationships.
An open relationship is a relationship between two people who agree to have sexual 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 not be equaled. The common misconception is that a polyamorous relationship, just like an open relationship, includes one couple who have 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.
Types Of Polyamorous Relationships
There are several different combinations that can occur in polyamorous relationships. They can be 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 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 a 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 which involves primaries and secondaries. People in this type of a 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.
Advantages of Polyamorous Relationships
After we have answered two important questions – what is a polyamorous relationship and what is an open relationship – it is time to explore 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 very important 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.
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 widespread 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.
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.
If you are curious as to what else Dan Savage has to say about relationships and monogamy, check out this talk below:
What is your stand on polyamory? Would you ever try being in a polyamorous relationship? Share your thoughts and emotions in the comments below!
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