We all have this mental picture of what an ideal relationship should be like. But lately, new dating and relationship trends are emerging and posing a challenge to the conventional one man one woman show. The latest of these recent dating trends is ‘polyamory’. Polyamory means loving more than one person at a time.
Love can be expressed in different ways and every relationship comes with its peculiarity, which is why polyamory or the possibility to have more than one partner and love them, all the same, is becoming an increasingly common topic of discussion.
However, although most people have heard the term polyamory, not everyone is clear on what it really means and how these non-monogamous relationships work.
Polyamory is defined as loving more than one person at a time. Most times, we often mistakenly consider polyamory to mean the same as an open relationship – but this is not always the case.
While an open relationship involves a committed couple, with some lighthearted fun on the side, the word “polyamory,” by simple definition, means loving more than one at a time.
Polyamorous relationships are unique in that they are comprised of multiple, loving partnerships.
What really is a polyamorous relationship?
A polyamorous relationship is a type of non-monogamous relationship that differs from a normative relationship in that multiple people are involved – not just two.
New York City relationship expert and author Susan Winter described a polyamorous relationship as often “ characterized by a primary couple that openly (and with mutual consent) engage with other romantic partners. These sexual liaisons may be enacted as a couple, or independently.”
Nonetheless, even polyamorous relationships differ from couple to couple
For some, a polyamorous relationship may involve being in a relationship with multiple people, but having one main partner. For others, polyamory is the possibility of being in two completely separate relationships.
“The fundamental philosophy of polyamory is that se×ual love shouldn’t be confined to the strictures of monogamy, but expressed freely and fully,” Winter told The Independent. “Another tenant of polyamory is that both individuals know of their partner’s lovers.”
How polyamorous relationships work
For the fact that polyamorous relationships do not follow the mainstream societal perception of a relationship, it is often a cause for confusion to outsiders.
For any polyamorous relationship to be successful, all the parties involved must be open and as ‘straight as a die’ about what they want out of the union.
The fact that polyamorous relationships involve multiple partners doesn’t mean there are no boundaries. While the boundaries in polyamory are different from monogamous relationships, they very well still exist.
However, the boundaries must be clearly defined for everyone in the union, and limits set for time spent with each partner.
Maintaining open communication is integral to the success of any polyamorous relationship. However, jealousy can still manifest – even if you are forthright with your partner/partners.
Winter explains: “It’s hard enough to get a relationship right with just one partner. Imagine two or more? The more people involved, the more challenging the tides of emotional experience.
“On one hand, polyamory removes the secrecy and betrayal of trust that surrounds an affair,” she said. “On the other hand, managing compersion (finding joy from a loved one’s pleasure in another) is the stumbling block that trips up most polygamists.”
“Polyamory can work if both individuals are completely emotionally and philosophically on board with the concept. Even so, it’s challenging to eradicate the insecurity that sparks jealousy,” Winter said.
Polyamory or Open relationship, What’s the difference?
Often, polyamory is considered the same as an open relationship – however, that is not necessarily the case, although both are non-monogamous unions.
Polyamorous relationships are not completely about se× or carnal satisfaction, whereas open relationships are typically defined by having side se×ual romances that have no potential to develop into relationships.
The idea of polyamory is to enjoy multiple relationships with love and emotional connections being the driving forces.
Who enters into a polyamorous relationship?
Anyone can become involved in a polyamorous relationship as long as the knowledge of what doing so entails is understood.
While polyamorous people do tend to be more open, it does not mean that they are automatically involved in sex with multiple people, or that their sexual preferences are fluid.
However, judging from different circumstances, the general acceptance of polyamory is gradually creeping up the relationship world.
To enter into a polyamorous relationship, one must be completely open about their needs and wants.
Although polyamory means being loved or loving multiple people, “it takes supreme trust, communication, and intentional clarity,” according to Winter.
Why do some people choose (polyamory)
Although the relationship world keeps evolving, many still find the idea of allowing their partners to have multiple romantic attachments quite quixotic.
Nonetheless, many people in polyamorous relationships do not only allow it, but they actually enjoy having more than one partner at a time. For a few others, they eventually learn to cope with this non-monogamous lifestyle.
Dr. Elisabeth Sheff, expert witness, speaker, and coach of polyamory and author of “The Polyamorists Next Door” told Business Insider that some people really never experience the jealousy triggers that set the rest of us off.
“Hardly anything triggers them to jealousy – they don’t experience it,” she said. “Some of them go so far as having a hard time understanding it. Their partners explain it to them, and they’re like ‘Why would I care about what someone else is doing? Why does it bother you what someone else is doing when you’re not there?’”
During her over two decades of study of Polyamory, Sheff noted that some people came back after many years reporting they finally understood what it was like to feel jealous.
“Maybe they just haven’t experienced that specific moment,” Sheff said. “All kinds of different things are going to make people jealous, and you never really know what it will be. It’s often when something new is introduced — a new partner, a new situation… And someone who really truly never felt it before is like, ‘Oh, so that’s what that is. That sucks.’”