What is Polyamory and Why Are People Switching to It?


As far as relationship configurations go, polyamory is probably the most controversial. These days, however, it seems to be a rising trend.

Conventional relationships usually expect a bond between one man and one woman. Now that society has progressed enough to accept same-sex relationships, relationships between men, women, transsexuals, and transgender individuals are also included.

For now, a relationship between two people is considered normal. No matter what your sexual orientation is, adding another person to the mix just wreaks too much emotional—and sometimes physical—havoc on any relationship.

But what about those who choose to have more than one partner? And it’s not purely limited to sexual relations. Some people really do want to have a committed relationship with more than one person—and the surprising thing is, the partners they’ve chosen totally agree!

What is polyamory?

Polyamory is defined as a consensual, romantic, and intimate relationship with multiple partners. The idea is open for some interpretation, considering it’s been around for centuries. Historically, it has been attributed to religious practices, but today it’s more in line with how people want to pursue their romantic interests.

There are different ways to approach polyamory, like through sexual relationships, romantic relationships, and even marriage *polygamy*. There’s also a difference between polyamory and polygamy. When it comes to the latter, romance is not mandatory, but marrying more than one person is encouraged. Still, polygamy can be borne out of polyamory. There’s just a bit more paperwork involved, if you’re in love with more than one person. [Read: In love with two people? – How to make it work]

How do people approach polyamory?

For cultures that practice polygamy, there are different social etiquettes that need to be followed in order to marry more than one person. You have to consider state and national laws about marriage as well, especially if they have strict laws pertaining to bigamy *marrying someone else while still married*.

For the more progressive individuals who don’t adhere to such customs, there’s still a huge discussion about how to approach the idea of having more than one partner.

Most people don’t want to share their significant others, but many are now considering it the better option, as it gives you more freedom to be with the people you love, without having to choose between or among them.

The catch, however, is that you have to do a lot of explaining to whomever you propose the idea. That’s pretty hard, considering almost no one sees polyamory as an option.

Remember, polyamory isn’t the same as hooking up or having several friends-with-benefits on call. In order for someone to be considered polyamorous, there has to be a serious, committed relationship in the works. Basically, you have to dive into it with the purpose of falling in love.

Are you ready to be polyamorous?

That depends on how you see yourself in a relationship. Are you the type who wants to be with only one person for the rest of your life? Or can you handle cultivating an intimate relationship with more than one person?

You’re not just testing the waters, here. You’re actually involving your feelings and emotions in a pot that has gotten decidedly fuller since there are more than two people. You’re not just working to keep one relationship afloat anymore, but two or more.

Besides, it’s not something that you decide to do. Being polyamorous has to do with how you feel about a certain someone, or in this case, “someones.” If you feel so strongly about them that you can’t stomach choosing between two or more, then maybe it’s time for you to consider talking to them about it.

Of course, it’s highly unlikely that they will agree—but it’s still possible. It is even more so when you’re dealing with people who are open-minded and don’t want to be tied down to just one person, either. Aside from that, they have to be willing to share your affection.

It seems like a dream, but it’s happening more and more in casual and non-cultural settings all over the world. Because of how people see relationships these days, it’s no surprise that keeping your options open is now the norm.

Rather than hooking up and dating dozens of people at the same time, polyamorous couples or groups tend to have their cake and eat it too. You don’t need to worry about the nuances of being too available or not available enough. Polyamory changes things, because it allows you to be more expressive toward more people, without having to hurt them.

What happens in a polyamorous relationship?

To understand the concept better, this is what most people believe polyamory should look like—though these qualifications are not set in stone and each relationship differs, depending on an individual’s needs. Most factors that come into play here are time, affection, sex, and commitment to a lifetime together, even when other people are involved. [Read: 15 open relationship rules for a better love life]

#1 You go on dates like normal people. It’s still a relationship, albeit with more than one person. You do the usual things that boyfriends and girlfriends do. Except this time, there are more people to entertain.

#2 You celebrate milestones together with all your partners. It’s still a legitimate relationship that has anniversaries. Sometimes you have to be there for all of them, but that depends on how important these milestones are to you and your partner.

#3 They can date whomever they want, as long as you agreed to it. Polyamory is a two-way street. If you can date more than one person, so can your partner or partners. If it’s something that you need to implement, then you better make sure it’s fair to your partners. [Read: Open relationships and why so many couples are now opting for it]

#4 Marriage is on the table, but not necessary. Again, marriage is complicated when it comes to polyamorous relationships. While some cultures see marriage as a sacrament or a rite of passage for religion, some see it as an economically sound choice.

#5 You’re in love with more than one person. The definition states that a romantic relationship exists between you and your partners. If it’s just about sex, then you’re just hooking up. If you’re serious about polyamory, you’re basically aiming for a serious relationship with all of your partners.

#6 Your friends and family might not understand it yet. Of course, it’s hard to understand! You’re seeing more than one person and are enjoying it. It’s not normal, but it is something that a lot of people can live with. If your loved ones can’t, hold tight. Someday, they might.

#7 It’s a delicate situation that can unravel at any time. Since emotions are involved, you can never predict how it will all turn out. As much as you want to work at your relationships, someone *it could be you or any of your partners* might decide that polyamory is not a good idea. It could make them unhappy, especially if they realize that they didn’t know what they’d be signing up for. [Read: 11 open relationship questions to know if you’re ready for it]

#8 Getting pregnant is a complicated concept, if you’re a woman. If you’re seeing more than one guy and have decided to start a family, it’s going to be difficult to explain that you want to get pregnant by one of them. It’s even more difficult to explain why you chose one and not the others. Just make sure that you’re open and honest about it. After that, just let things run their course.

#9 Settling down means considering everyone’s needs for the long term. When you think of settling down, you envision a mortgage, a wedding, and a long-term commitment to a life with one person. But in this case, there’s more than one. You don’t necessarily have to choose just one, but you have to consider everyone’s needs and wants.

#10 A deep understanding of polyamory is mandatory. It’s not as simple as telling someone, “I’m seeing someone else and would like to see you both at the same time.” Imagine telling them you’re seeing two or three more. In order for things to go smoothly, you need to study up on how this works. There’s no book that can tell you, but there is life. You experience it, and you learn from your mistakes. And the most important part? Just be honest and open with the people you love.

[Read: Love triangles and the complications it creates for everyone]

Polyamory is swiftly gaining adherents, as it allows room for romantic love between multiple partners. Using the 10 guidelines included here, you can evaluate whether polyamory is right for you—and how you can begin implementing it in your own romantic life.

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Danielle Anne
Danielle Anne
Those who can’t do, teach. I can neither do nor teach as well as others, but I can try. Aside from being a writer, I am also a physical therapist. My dream is...
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5 thoughts on “What is Polyamory and Why Are People Switching to It?”

  1. Vivica says:

    This is a very interesting subject for sure but I am not one to think that this is for me. I am a believer in dating multiple people to have fun and find out what it is you want but I also believe in one person when things get serious. I know there are many people who are turning to this and I am not surprised. I think there are too many factors already with one person and being in a relationship. I cannot imagine consideration of many. Still it is a very interesting mindset to have and follow through on.

  2. Leighanne says:

    This has always been bizarre to me. I guess I am old fashioned but I believe that if I love more than one person and want to have sex with more than one person, that is cheating on my current partner. I just can’t imagine my fiance being in bed with another woman and it being okay. I think that there is a lot of added drama that goes into polyamory. I definitely don’t need that added drama. One partner is enough for me!

  3. unpack says:

    It’s just a fancier word for polygamy. Polygamy usually applies to marriages but when you’re just dating and you want a lot of partners, polyamory would be your thing. Guys would really just find a way to be get laid more than once a day. They want two or more girls to satisfy their needs and I really think it’s so pathetic of them. I want to wrap them all up in a duffle bag and kill them off with loss of oxygen. Why do men need more than one woman to satisfy them? Why can’t they be satisfied with the girl they are with. Just go with it and hold your girls heart and handle it with care because it’s the most precious thing that she can give to you other than her body. If you like a girl, make her come back home to you and her only. Don’t go around and find another girl to come home with every single night. Give each girl in the world peace of mind to date without thinking that their man is going to cheat on them with other women. We women have the same body parts and why do you want to look for another pussy to bang when you got one already? You can do with them as you please.

  4. Greg says:

    I really think polyamory is just another term for getting 2 hook ups or more at the same time. I mean, I really can’t say nothing bad about it except that it is bad if you really think about it. I love it because it’s really convenient for your sexual pleasure and it’s all lust and there is really no love involved. You just want another human being preferably for me, a girl and I want more than one to lay with. The more the merrier, right? I have had this mindset ever since I was a child that I would like to be the guy that got the most girls and I’m really trying to be that guy now. I’m not a womanizer or anything. I just set an agreement for my partners and I specifically ask them if they are okay with the terms and conditions of the relationship. They said it was all fine for them. I really had nothing to hide from them. I just fuck them all together, sometimes one at a time if they want that sort of thing. Just fuck buddies and all professional relationship. No strings attached. We have fun and I even let the girls fuck each other because I bring toys from them to play with, especially strap-ons. I love that sort of thing and I have a fetish for it. It’s just me though and I don’t really think that other people should really make a big deal about it because it’s really nothing for me and it is for free. Why refuse something that you can actually do for free and you enjoy it. I mean, what things are for free nowadays? It’s rare.

  5. Mono says:

    In my experience this is something that happens quite frequently to women and not as much to men. At least it has never happen to me and I’ve seen it happen to my girlfriend a few times now. Some people assume any not heterosexual monogamous relationship means you have no standards. I’ve tried to explain it thus, “while I might have sex with a few more people than you are, there are 7 billion people I am not sleeping with.” It can be annoying when people assume poly=promiscuous. (Not that there is anything wrong with responsible promiscuity.)

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