What is Polyamory and Why Are People Switching to It?

What is polyamory? Once you learn more, you might raise your eyebrows, but it’s far more common these days than you might realize. Love is love!

polyamory

Once upon a time, relationships were always expected to be conventional. By that, we mean between a man and a woman. However, these days we know that love isn’t as straightforward. And thank heavens for that! Society has progressed enough to accept same-sex relationships, relationships between men, women, transsexuals, and transgender individuals. And why not? Love is love, after all. If you’re wondering what is polyamory, you’ve come to the right place to learn more!

For now, a relationship between two people is considered normal. No matter what your sexual orientation is, adding another person to the mix often wreaks emotional—and sometimes physical—havoc on a 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! [Read: Polyamorous relationships – Could you be happy in one?]

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, such as through sexual relationships and romantic relationships, but the main feature is that it’s totally consensual and all parties know what’s going on. So, if you’re with one person and you’re also in a relationship with another person, both would know about each other.

Many people struggle with understanding what is polyamory mainly because they assume it’s the same as cheating. It’s not. Cheating is when you’re with someone behind your partner’s back. Polyamory is none of that. It’s totally open, consensual, and there are no secrets. [Read: Polyamorous dating – Everything you need to know first]

What is the difference between polyamory and polygamy?

You might have heard of another term – polygamy. This is the practice of being married to more than one person.

Yes, we know what you’re thinking, that can’t be legal. But, in some places it is. Of course, in other places, it isn’t, so you need to be cautious if this is something you’re going to do.

There’s a difference between polyamory and polygamy. When it comes to polygamy, romance is not mandatory, but marrying more than one person is encouraged. Polyamory is about love. 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: Non-monogamy – How to know if you and your partner are ready for it]

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. As we’ve already mentioned, you have to consider state and national laws about marriage as well. You don’t want to accidentally end up committing bigamy.

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. [Read: Poly relationship – How to get past the jealousy of sharing love]

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. [Read: Triad relationship – Benefits and complications of a three-way 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. It’s actually about 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. [Read: Types of relationships – 26 ways to define your love life]

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. [Read: Seriously, can someone please define monogamy?]

Polyamory is becoming more mainstream

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. [Read: Is monogamy for you? How to know your needs and what works for you]

What happens in a polyamorous relationship?

To understand the concept better, this is what most people say when they’re asked ‘what is polyamory’. 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 couples do. Except for this time, there are more people to entertain.

2. You celebrate milestones together with all your partner

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. For sure, if you’re buying gifts, it could end up being expensive! [Read: 15 romantic anniversary ideas to leave your love speechless]

3. They can date whomever they want, as long as you agree 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. But, they have to be in agreement with what you’re doing and you have to be in agreement with what they’re doing. [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. It also depends where you live as to whether it’s even possible, law-wise.

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. [Read: In love with two people? How to make up your mind]

6. Your friends and family might not understand it – yet or ever

Of course, it’s hard to understand! You’re seeing more than one person and you are enjoying it. It’s not normal in the eyes of many, 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. Pregnancy may be a complicated concept

If you’re a woman who is 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. [Read: 17 things to do before getting married and settling down]

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 – most people would not be happy! In order for things to go smoothly, you need to study what is polyamory and how it 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]

What is polyamory? It’s a whole lot of love. 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
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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