The word ‘polyamory’ comes from the joining of the Greek word ‘poly’ (many) and the Latin word ‘amor’ (love). Polyamory therefore means ‘many loves’. People are polyamorous when they want intimate relationships with more than one person. Importantly, all the people in a polyamorous relationship know about it and consent to it. The term polyamory now covers many types of non-monogamous relationships. Non-monogamy is the practice of having an intimate relationship with more than one person.
The practice of polyamory is not new. The term ‘polyamory’ was first used in 1990. There are many different types of polyamory. Some polyamorists form a relationship with 3 or more people. In this type of relationship everyone feels connected to each other. This is called a polycule. Not every person is always involved sexually with every person in the relationship.
Another type of polyamory includes parallel polyamory. This is when the members of individual relationships prefer not to meet the others. They might also not want to know the details of their partner’s other relationships.
Solo polyamory is where the individual has multiple intimate relationships at the same time. However, in this style the individual does not cohabit with any one partner. Ideally, an individual’s partners are accepted as part of that person’s life rather than simply tolerated.
In a polyamorous relationship, fidelity means keeping the promises made to the other people in the relationship. It does not mean only engaging in sexual activities with one person.
There is no standard model for a polyamorous relationship. Therefore communication and negotiation are important. Different people may want different things so it is important to be honest and respect each other. Trust is also very important in a polyamorous relationship.
People who identify as polyamorous tend not to like possessiveness. Therefore, a polyamorous relationship suits them better. They think that too many restrictions can replace trust.
Some polyamorists enjoy a state of joy or happiness when their partner enjoys another relationship. This is called compersion.
How common is it?
Polyamory is still quite a small subculture. However, it is growing. The wide use of the internet means there is more information available for people. This means more people can learn about polyamory. The internet also allows more like minded people to meet. There are also an increasing number of examples of polyamory in popular culture. This helps to normalise polyamory.
Some people may feel forced to have a polyamrous relationship. This may be because if they refuse, their partner might see other people anyways or break off the relationship.
A common problem is time management. With more than one partner, people have to divide their time between them. This might create tension between partners. It also leaves less time for the individual to focus on themselves.
The need for open communication and negotiation can also be emotionally challenging. Some people may not communicate their needs or feelings very well.
Polyamory is not widely accepted in law or in religion.
People who practice polyamory are criticised for wanting only to have sex with multiple partners. A prominent critic called polyamory the choice of “overwhelmingly white, affluent, university educated and privileged folk”. It has also been criticised for not providing a stable base for bringing up children.
Polyamory is not very common and it has its setback. However, for the people that practice it, polyamory is a way to form deep and meaningful bonds with other humans.