So what is polyamory? Well, the easiest and quickest way to define it would be having or being open to having more than one committed romantic relationship. At the same time, it has to be with the full consent and knowledge of everyone involved. Polycule means all this group of polyamorous people.
- Polyamory is just an excuse to cheat
- Polyamory vs open relationship
- Polyamory vs swinging
- Polyamory vs polygamy
- Polyamory is for anyone, any type of person
- Polyamory isn’t innately about physical gratification
- Asexual people and celibate people can participate in polyamory too
- Just because someone is polyamorous doesn’t mean they’re available
Polyamory is just an excuse to cheat
So if you are cheating on your partner, you’re going behind their back, you are being disabled, deceptive that isn’t polyamory. I would say this is the number one misconception about polyamory that it’s just an excuse to cheat. But if everyone again is happy with the situation, then how is it cheating?
Polyamory vs open relationship
There are a few other concepts that get conflated with polyamory as well. One of those is open relationship. Now polyamory can sometimes be a manifestation of an open relationship but let’s talk about what an open relationship is in order to distinguish the difference. So an open relationship, this phrase, it describes a specific relationship, right? So you might have two people in a relationship or three people or more and those people are engaging in an open relationship. And what that means is that one or more of the people involved is free to go seek out additional romantic or sexual relationships. If you think about a relationship being a building, a home perhaps and there being a front door in open relationships that front door is open. People can come and go from the actual relationship itself. If a relationship is closed, you close that front door, no new additional people can enter that relationship. So neither person involved or none of the people involved are going to seek out or be receptive to additional romantic or sexual connections. A closed relationship can happen in polyamory. So this is why open relationship and polyamory aren’t always the same thing and don’t always go hand in hand. A closed relationship in polyamory could easily look like three people being in a relationship together or more than three. But we’ll say three. And those three people are polyamorous because there’s more than two people involved in that relationship. But for the sake of this example, that relationship is nevertheless closed because those three people have made a commitment to that relationship between the three of them and all of them have agreed not to pursue or be receptive to any other romantic or sexual connections.
Polyamory vs swinging
Another concept that’s frequently conflated with polyamory is swinging. So swinging is when you have usually a couple but any relationship where the relationship is open, and specifically it’s open to play with additional physical intimacy, seeking out other sexual partners. It’s not where you seek out additional romantic partners. And for the sake of simplicity in this article when I say romantic partner, I mean a full-blown romantic relationship. Perhaps you’re either in love or walking the path to becoming in love, and you are committed to each other, whatever that might mean for you, versus playing with people outside the relationship in a sexual capacity or other physical capacity that specifically is swinging. And while polyamory can involve having physical intimacy with people outside any given relationship, it isn’t just about physical intimacy, whereas swinging typically is. I’m going to talk a little bit more about that later in this article.
Polyamory vs polygamy
The final term that I want to cover that gets conflated with polyamory is polygamy. A lot of people are familiar with the term or the concept of polygamy because there are religions or religious sects that practice polygamy and that’s most commonly where it’s found is in religions. And usually it means there’s one man, and he has multiple wives. An argument could certainly be made that polygamy is a form of polyamory, and I wouldn’t really disagree with that. But if you meet someone, and they say they’re polyamorous, that in no way suggests that they are polygamous.
Polyamory is for anyone, any type of person
The next thing that I want to convey about polyamory is that polyamory is for anyone. And that might be obvious, but I say that because, of course, like with anything else, there are stereotypes and common things that people associate with polyamory that may or may not be applicable to any given polyamorous person. You can practice polyamory if you’re straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual, pansexual, asexual or any other orientation. You can practice polyamory no matter what your background is, no matter what kind of family you come from, no matter what your political leanings might be. I know that there’s certainly the assumption that people who practice polyamory, given it’s not a mainstream practice, would be left leaning. And it certainly is true that most people that I’ve personally met in polyamory are left leaning, if not very far left leaning. However, I have also met people who lean just a little bit right of center or who are quite far on the right-hand side of things and of course, anything in between. The point being, if you learn that someone is polyamorous, you haven’t necessarily learned much else about them other than the fact that they are polyamorous. I don’t think it’s safe to assume where they fall on the political spectrum or what kind of background they have or what their interests are or their religion. There’s a lot of tongue in cheek joking within the polyamorous community about the bisexual, kinky, polyamorous, pagan gamer, and that’s because it is common to find this sort of constellation of traits in a given person within polyamory. But there are plenty of people who fall well outside any one of those traits.
Polyamory isn’t innately about physical gratification
The third thing is that polyamory isn’t innately about physical gratification. This is an extremely common misconception about polyamory that anyone who would engage in polyamory is really only looking to stage some sort of sexual appetite. That can certainly happen. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve met plenty of people who are primarily in it for that, but there are many, many others who aren’t. Polyamory is differentiated from swinging, as I mentioned before, by the fact that it is mostly focused on developing deep and meaningful romantic relationships, not just dalliances. Not that there’s anything wrong with that between consenting adults, but it is important to understand that just because someone might tell you they’re polyamorous doesn’t mean that they’re extremely active sexually, that they’re always looking for new physical intimacy partners or that that’s why they became polyamorous. It’s not really safe to assume any of these things, frankly, about anyone, but certainly not because they’ve shared with you what their relationship structure is.
Asexual people and celibate people can participate in polyamory too
That includes understanding that asexual people and celibate people exist and do have romantic relationships, and because they can and do have romantic relationships, some of those romantic relationships could easily be polyamorous. Asexual people and celibate people practice polyamory, you’re looking at one of them. Now. If you’re wondering how you can have a romantic relationship without sexual activity, that’s a little bit beyond the scope of this article, and I can certainly make a article on that at some point. But in short, just think for a moment about any romantic relationship that you might have had over the course of your life. Is there anything other than sexuality that differentiates those relationships from your friends? Maybe for you there really isn’t, and that’s fine. But for many, many people, including people who are sexually active, the sexual component of a romantic relationship isn’t the one and only thing that makes it romantic. So, yes, don’t assume anything about a polyamorous person just because they are polyamorous. Get to know them as an individual just as you would anyone else.
Just because someone is polyamorous doesn’t mean they’re available
Next, just because someone is polyamorous doesn’t mean they’re available. Much like open relationship and polyamory aren’t the same thing. Any given individual being open to new relationships, new romantic or sexual connections is not the same thing as being polyamorous. Maybe you are at any given moment what people call poly saturated, which means that you have the maximum number of partners that you can personally pay attention to, nourish, really reasonably grow and attend to at that point in your life. And of course, that number is different for everyone. Some people are saturated at one partner, and that is more or less why they are functionally monogamous, even if they’re, in theory, okay with polyamory. I think I kind of fall into that category. Other people poly saturate at two partners or three, and it often depends on how much involvement is involved in each relationship. Of course, a polyamorous person may not be available for dating and new relationships for any number of reasons. Maybe they just don’t feel like going through all of that right now. Perhaps their job is really demanding right now, or they know they’re about to move out of state in the next six months, and they don’t really want to do short term. There are so many reasons why someone might not be available.