Polyamory

I’ve blogged before about polyamory. It’s something that a lot of people don’t understand, so for the Ultimate Blog Challenge I thought it was worth bringing up again.

Polyamory, at the most basic, means having the capacity for more than one romantic relationship at a time. Someone who’s polyamorous is able to love more than one person. That’s essentially it.

It gets more complicated than that, of course. People don’t necessarily understand the difference between polyamory and cheating. The biggest difference is that in polyamory, everyone who’s involved knows about and has given their agreement to what’s going on. No one’s doing anything behind anyone’s back, unless that’s part of the agreement. (Some people who are polyamorous go by the idea of “don’t ask don’t tell,” where it’s mutually understood that they’re seeing other people but they don’t talk about it or share any information about their other partners.)

In polyamory, each relationship is its own separate entity, but the relationships can affect and impact each other. Some people practice what’s often called “kitchen table poly,” where everyone involved is friends with each other, even if they aren’t romantically involved with each other. The idea is that everyone involved would be comfortable sitting around the kitchen table for a meal together.

Polyamory takes a huge amount of communication to make sure everyone’s on the same page about agreements, schedules, and so on. Although a common misconception is that people who are polyamorous just don’t want to commit to anyone, the truth is that polyamory in some ways takes more commitment than monogamy. You aren’t choosing not to commit to anyone; you’re committing to multiple people.

There are pluses and minuses to polyamory, and this blog post isn’t going to be long enough to explore all of them. But there are a lot of books and other resources available if you’re interested in finding out more.

Polyamory

I know a number of people who are polyamorous, and who have encountered varying degrees of understanding and acceptance. Polyamory and other alternative relationship styles are more common than people realize.

Some people confuse polyamory with the polygamy they’ve heard about in the news. While polygamy can be a form of polyamory, it isn’t the only one—and cults that enforce polygamy have little to nothing to do with polyamory.

Polyamory, put most simply, is having, or having the capacity for, more than one romantic and/or sexual relationship. In general, people include romantic love as a requirement, since the “amory” part of polyamory means love. But as a broader term, polya, as some people call it, can also include sexual relationships that don’t involve romantic love.

There are many different forms of polyamory, and trying to explain them all would take a month or more worth of blog posts. Even then, I would probably miss something. Looking online, you can find a number of resources about polyamory if you’re curious.

There is no “one right way” to do polyamory. Relationship configurations and agreements differ from one person or grouping to another, and there isn’t anything wrong with that. Jealousy is a thing for some polyamorous people, and there isn’t anything inherently wrong with that either, as long as the jealous person owns their emotions and controls their own actions and responses instead of trying to control their partner(s).

I’ve seen debate about whether polyamory is an orientation or a lifestyle choice. Personally I would say it’s both or either. Feeling as if you’re “hard-wired” for polyamory still requires a choice about whether to have polyamorous relationships. For people who consider polya their romantic orientation, *being* polya isn’t a choice, but *doing* polya is.

For other people, it’s entirely a choice. It sounds like the way they would like to conduct their romantic life, so they do it. They don’t necessarily feel like they’re wired that way, they simply like the idea.

That said, polyamory definitely isn’t for everyone. But it is a valid way to live and love.