It is my profound hope to be as inclusive as possible with the selected language on this site. As sexuality is always evolving, so too does our language around it. The information below is not exhaustive. Rather, it is an introduction to the basics of this relationship structure. Please send any updates or suggestions for increased inclusivity to email@example.com
Etymologically speaking, the term polyamory comes from "poly," the greek root meaning many, along with "amory," the latin root amore. Polyamory translates to "many loves" & is one style of non-monogamy based on open, honest engagement in multiple consensual, often sexual, relationships based on emotional intimacy & connection. Relationship structures vary by practice, hierarchy, & a number of other variables.
Ambiamory is when a person is able to experience joy both in monogamous & polyamorous relationships with little preference between the two.
Often cited as the opposite of jealousy, compersion is the experience of joy initiated from witnessing another's joy.
A metamour is your partner's partner (ie: your wife's boyfriend).
Given that polyamory is not just about sex but rather about creating those deep bonds heavy on communication, trust, & intimacy, it comes as no surprise that asexuals may choose polyamory as a relationship style to engage in multiple romantic connections & interests.
Solo polyamory is the practice of polyamory through the voluntary engagement as a secondary partner without the entanglements of finances, housing, or marriage, as traditionally associated with primary partnership.
A nesting partner is a way to describe one person's live-in partner without using hierarchical terms such as "primary". A nesting partner is often who you share a home or have a child with.
Also known as a "throuple," a "triad" is a polyamorous relationship between three people where all parties are involved with one another. A "vee" is where one person is involved with two people but the two partners are not involved with each other.
A quad is a polyamorous relationship involving four people. A "full quad" indicates that all four people are involved with one another.
A polycule is the entire structure containing all the relational links. Think of this as a mapped out version of all the involved partners.
The practice of pratyahara is, admittedly, a smidge idealist. We all have some attachments. That’s not a bad thing – how fortunate we are to have people we care about so much as to attach to! However, it is vital to the health of any relationship to develop & respect the health of those attachments.
As Jessica Fern states in her book Polysecure:
“Secure attachment is created through the quality of experience we have with our partners, not through the notion or the fact of either being married or being a primary partner. The narratives people have about love, marriage, primary partnership, & how to achieve relationship security are powerful, so much so that just the idea of being in love, married, or in a primary partnership can lead us to think we are experiencing attachment security when in reality we might not be.”
By questioning the nature of the emotion behind the associated attachment, we are able to verify the validity. In recognizing this pattern, we are able to separate assumption, or more often, reaction, from mindful thought & conscious selection.
Below, we examine some of the common narratives, attachments, & misconceptions as it relates to consensual nonmonogamy as we bust through the bullshit & replace fear-based notions with love-based energy. Make sure to also check out the Yamas & Niyamas to learn how this yogic code of conduct may apply to various sexual constructs such as jealousy, love by possession, & living your true sexual self.
No, polyamory is not the same as cheating. The main difference? Whereas cheating inherently involves emotional dishonesty & deceit, polyamory is based on creating intimate connections based on open & honest communication, trust, informed consent, & mutual respect.
All too often, the notion of polyamory is quite reductive in that it is associated with sex. If we allow ourselves to let go of sex as a function of polyamory, we are more open to the core of the practice which is about creating love, intimacy, & connection with one another.
The practice of polyamory & the associated community upholds stringent values on communication & safety. The practice of safer sex is no exception. Practicing safer sex is prioritized through usage of condoms & contraceptives, agreements that outline which partners may share bodily fluids (also known as fluid bonding), & getting tested regularly. The practice of sharing recent test results with any sexual partners, new or established, is encouraged & necessary.
I’ve never understood the logic of how committing to several people at one time equates to commitment issues. Yes, perhaps commitment may look differently in a polyamorous relationship, but this is nothing new. The way in which we love & communicate looks differently in each relationship, polyamorous or not. Defining what commitment means to you is a point of significance in any relationship.
There often appears to be an assumption of insecurity, especially with regards to a woman’s participation in a polyamorous relationship. And yet, if we expand our viewpoint, we see this is an unfortunate truth for some, regardless of relationship structure. Using sex as a method of validation is an unfortunate truth in our vanity-driven culture. Participating in a positive, healthy polyamorous relationship is a subject of agency, not insecurity, & is one that encourages open communication & authentic expression.
The above statement comes from a place of ignorance. Developing an awareness of our unhealthy attachments goes hand-in-hand with developing a bullshit meter for all the thoughts that comes along with them. The narrative that your partner wouldn’t be looking at someone else if they really loved you is utter BS & so is the doubt, confusion, & jealousy that comes with it. We so readily accept & appreciate our inherent ability to love many without loving one any less when it comes to our children, friends, & family members. Why is it that we feel compelled to make this limiting exception to romantic love?
The world of polyamory offers so many things. Opportunities to meet new people & learn about ways different than our own, to differentiate our sources of nourishment, & to relate to others in a way that may be new to us & them. Through this alternative lifestyle, we may find unbound passion, friendship, & connection. However, as we also quickly learn, there is plenty of room to fall on our face & get caught up in a world of emotion. Like anything, the only way to learn is to stumble our way through, carefully observing & adjusting our approach to what suits us best along the way.
Jealousy is a common issue that can quickly rise from seemingly nowhere. No matter our best efforts to love without control or ownership, but instead with an open heart & supportive of others’ full nourishment, jealousy can still creep in from time to time. Feelings of temporary displacement by our partner’s new lover can make us feel as if we have somehow fallen short of their relational fulfillment. The key, as with any emotion that wanders through our consciousness, is to not attach to it & learn how to handle it (which is rooted in un-learning the response, or the charge, that is attached to the emotion). Jealousy is based on fear & our projected insecurities in thinking that there is not enough love to go around. Usually, something along the lines of “if he is in a relationship with her, as well as me, that means he will love me less”. This is simply not the case. There is not a set amount of love that any one person has to give. And, oftentimes, granting our partner(s) the time & space to express their authentic truth, allows them to return to the primary relationship (if that is the set structure), recharged, refreshed, and resparked for hot passion at home.
One important way to deal with jealousy is to meet your partner(s), partner(s). This can help us in preventing the need for our mind to fill in the blanks about them. Basing our knowledge on reality instead of the idealized person we have created in our head allows us to be grounded in reality, instead of lost in a world of self-doubt & comparative thought. New Relationship Energy (NRE), is a beautiful, albeit, short-lived, part of a relationship. Full of passion, it’s the honeymoon phase. Watching our partner(s) experience NRE with another person can be quite challenging. Why are they on their best behavior with the new person(s) & I get to clean the house & pay bills with them? It can feel intimidating, threatening, & this highly-passionate atmosphere can create feelings of jealousy, anger, or even resentment if unaddressed & left to fester.
I cannot emphasize the importance of communication enough. Respectful communication with your play partner(s) creates a supportive environment in which all parties can share, be vulnerable, & compassionate towards one another. We all deal with it & while we may experience the emotion differently, we still all know what it means to feel that emotion. Being open with each other allows us to voice the needed reassurance of our standing in the relationship. Asking for reassurance is not a pity party. It simply allows the opportunity for us to recognize the emotion & work through, with the help of our partner, any needed reassurances with regard to the relationship. Wouldn’t it be great if we could simply ask for that reassurance? Great news – you can! Just be careful not to dump your emotions on someone or project the emotion onto them through anger, that only serves to push them away, not draw them nearer for the warmth & comfort you desire through reassurance.
In developing our communication with our partner, we also help to support the NRE in our primary relationship through the process of continually shedding past viewpoints. We enter the relationship each day with a fresh perspective & welcome change through our confidence to find peace within it, no matter what the future may hold.
A glimmer is a thought or association which brings you to a place of emotional safety & stability. A mental “happy place” that may inspire feelings of calmness, clarity, & emotional reprieval.
Polyamory, like many relationships, may carry its fair share of emotional upheavals. The value of an emotional support plan both for self-care & caring for each other is an important resource in our emotional toolkit. Talking through things such as how to reconnect with your nesting partner after some time away with a metamour can help one another feel grounded, safe, & loved in their relationship.
Understanding each other’s love languages can also help in this reconnecting process. Too often, we confuse our own thoughts of how we want to be loved with how other people want to be loved. While understanding how to take care of ourselves is valuable for our own self-care, it is not always the case & may result in further confusion should we apply it to others. It is always best to ask & clarify how that person wants to be loved.
Glimmers can be useful for those moments when our mind is experiencing one or several of the 5 modifications of consciousness. When we feel as though we are being actively pulled from the present into our sometimes turbulent internal landscape. Breathe & glimmer, baby.