This is my obligatory post about polyamory basics. This is a rudimentary primer for those of you are aren’t familiar with polyamory. To be honest, this topic has been written on to death and in much more eloquent words than I have at my disposal. But if you’re at my blog and don’t feel like Googling the term– this is for you.
What is polyamory?
Polyamory is the philosophy, orientation, or practice containing the idea that you can have more than one sexual and/or romantic partner. It is a particular subset of ethical non-monogamy. A poly person’s other partners may or may not be involved with one another, and may or may not co-habit together or choose to start/blend families.
What polyamory isn’t…
- Cheating – Cheating is a matter of dishonestly breaking the negotiated boundaries of a relationship agreement. If two or more people agree that sex or cuddling is a permitted activity, then it is not cheating to partake. As I said, poly is a brand of ethical non-mongamy. Contained in this idea is that practitioners are dedicated to open communication and fair negotiation in their conduct within their relationships. Polyamorous people can cheat, lie and steal just like anyone else. But cheating is not a part of what polyamory is.
- Swinging – There is definitely overlap between the poly and swinging communities and some polyamorous people are also swingers. But swinging is a distinct subset of ethical non-monogamy, which mostly focuses on no-strings-attached sex without romantic involvement.
- Kink/BDSM/fetish– Again there is definitely overlap between the communities and some poly people are also kinksters and leathermen. But not all poly people enjoy kinky sex. Not all kinksters are non-monogamous.
- Bisexuality– Once again, polyamorous people can be bisexual, but one does not imply the other. Poly people may be of any gender and sexual orientation. Many bisexual people are monogamous.
Why be polyamorous?
I’m not saying you should be polyamorous. It’s not for everyone. But I think many people grow up believing the notion that monogamy is the only game in town. Personally, I think that default setting is crap. Many other people and myself have discovered that polyamory or some other form of non-monogamy are relationship styles which suit us. Some people may even be oriented toward polyamory. If you’ve had simultaneous crushes, have gotten restless about perfectly good relationships, prefer sexual variety, simply don’t like the confines of one-person-forever scenario, or it just sounds interesting… poly might be an option for you. Like everything, it has its advantages and disadvantages.
What about jealousy?
Contrary to some common beliefs, most poly people indeed feel jealous from time to time. It happens. However most of us view it as any other negative emotion, to be coped with like any other negative emotion. Jealousy does not need to be a relationship ender. It’s not exactly specific to polyamory either.
This will likely grow over time, but here are some terms you might see in the context of polyamory talk.
Metamour – The other partners of your partners with whom you may or may not have your own friendship or relationship
New Relationship Energy (NRE) – The overwhelming feeling of excitement when you start a new relationship with someone. It’s usually a good feeling, but can be addictive and can lead to changes in behavior which may be an issues for your other partners.
Polycule / constellation / network – The collection of people who are connected to you through romantic or sexual partners. Sometimes these relationship maps can get quite complicated if you date other people with multiple partners.
Compersion – The feeling of happiness caused by another person’s happiness. Many poly people see this feeling as the opposite of jealousy and as a desirable goal.
I’m sure there are many things I didn’t cover. If you have any other burning basic questions about polyamory I am happy to answer them. Just leave a note!