However, although most people have heard the term polyamory, not everyone is clear on the meaning or the logistics of how these non-monogamous relationships work.
A polyamorous relationship is a type of non-monogamous relationship that differs from other relationships in that multiple people are involved – not just two.
According to New York City relationship expert and author Susan Winter, a polyamorous relationship is often “characterised 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.”
However, even polyamorous relationships differ by couples.
How does a polyamorous relationship work?
Because polyamorous relationships do not follow the mainstream societal construct of a relationship, the logistics are often cause for confusion to outsiders. For some people, a polyamorous relationship involves 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 sexual 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.”
Winter told us: “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.
How is polyamory different from an open relationship?
Often, polyamory is considered the same as an open relationship – however, that is not necessarily the case, although both are considered non-monogamous.