Monogamy isn’t for everyone, and there are plenty of people who live their lives in loving and fulfilling polyamorous relationships. Because polyamorous relationships exist primarily outside of the mainstream, they are something that many people don’t understand. Here are the basics that you need to know about polyamory.
Polyamory is defined as the philosophy or state of being in love with or romantically involved with more than one person at the same time. But “consensual non-monogamy” is the preferred term for people who practice it.
Polyamory is not the same as polygamy.
Polygamy is the practice of having more than one spouse at the same time. Polygyny is one man with many wives, and polyandry is one woman with many husbands. Polygamy is illegal; polyamory, by contrast, is about adults consenting to non-monogamous relationships.
There is no evidence that monogamous relationships are better.
This is true across the board, whether we’re talking about longevity, sexual satisfaction, emotional intimacy or happiness in general. That being said, there is also no evidence that polyamory is better, either. The important thing is that you do what feels right for you and your partner(s). Some people will feel safer and happier with just one committed partner, but for others that can be deeply unfulfilling.
The “right one” is a myth.
We are sold a bill of goods that says that there is one soulmate for everyone, just waiting to make you feel complete. This is reinforced by movies, music and possibly by the relationships that are modeled by parents and relatives. The idea that there is only one perfect person out there to fulfill every desire is not only false, but it’s unrealistic and deeply damaging. It’s just too much pressure for any one person to bear. Putting such high expectations on someone can do little more than hasten the end of the relationship.
Polyamory isn’t only for people who don’t get jealous.
People who engage in consensual non-monogamy aren’t perfect or enlightened, and they get jealous just like anyone else. The difference is that people who are polyamorous expect jealousy, and they confront it head on and deal with it. They talk to their partners and work together to make those feelings of jealous dissipate. Confronting feelings of jealousy can make relationships stronger.
Polyamory is more common than you think.
In fact, about five percent of all Americans are in a polyamorous arrangement at any given time. It’s not lying or infidelity, it’s a myriad of consenting adults who find fulfillment in multiple romances.
Polyamory is not a constant orgy.
One of the biggest myths is that in a polyamorous relationship, everyone has sex with everyone else. Polyamory can involve a range of relationships, from friendships to group sexual situations — and everything in between.
Polyamory is not cheating.
Which isn’t to say that people in polyamorous relationships can’t cheat — because they can — but polyamory itself is not infidelity. Polyamory is about adults deciding for themselves what they want their romantic and sexual relationships to look like, and this can be different for every unit.
Children raised in polyamorous families do just as well as other children.
Children raised in non-monogamous families do just as well on any measure of health and achievement as children raised in monogamous families. What seems to be most important is support, routine and modeling healthy modes of romantic love that features communication and responsibility, honesty and compromise.
Polyamory is not necessarily easy.
It takes emotional intelligence, respect, boundaries and excellent communication skills to make a polyamorous relationship work. However, it’s not necessarily more work than a traditional monogamous relationship, either. All relationships take the work of honesty and communication in order to genuinely thrive.
No relationships complete you.
You are already complete. If you come into any relationship — polyamorous or monogamous — expecting it to make you whole, it will only let you down. You are complete on your own.