There’s a lot of talk about polyamorous relationships these days. Unfortunately, a lot of that talk involves misconceptions about what it means to be polyamorous, poly for short, and what polyamorous relationships look like.
Read on to learn more about what it’s really like to be in a poly relationship and what it takes to make a poly relationship succeed.
There Are Lots of Ways to Be in a Polyamorous Relationship
Being in a polyamorous relationship doesn’t look just one way. In fact, there are a lot of different configurations for poly relationships. Sometimes poly relationships include a committed couple who have a single additional partner that they both have a relationship with. Other times two people in a committed relationship each have their own additional partners that their partners do not have a relationship with.
In still other poly relationships, one person maintains committed relationships with multiple people. Sometimes those people also have other partners, sometimes they don’t.
No matter how the poly relationship is structured, all the people involved are aware that their partner or partners have other partners. Poly relationships are all about honesty and transparency, not secrecy and “cheating.”
It’s Not Always Casual Hookups, but It Can Be
Just like there are many different configurations of polyamorous relationships, there are many motivations for poly relationships. Some people enter into polyamorous relationships because they want to explore their sexuality with multiple people. Sometimes these encounters are casual hookups, but more often, people in poly relationships maintain longer-term relationships, even if those relationships are relatively casual.
Other polyamorous relationships are anything but casual. Many people who live the poly lifestyle have multiple committed, long-term partnerships. One person may have two or three or even more relationships that have been going on for years that involve deep love and commitment.
It’s All About Boundaries and Rules
The most important part of maintaining long-term, committed polyamorous relationships is establishing rules and boundaries that all partners must adhere to. These rules and boundaries vary for each polyamorous relationship and often change as relationships evolve.
One poly couple might have a rule that says they must meet all their partner’s other partners. Another couple may not want to meet or even hear about their partner’s other partners. Most people involved in poly relationships set rules about being regularly tested for STD’s and practicing safe sex so everyone involved stays healthy and safe. Some have rules about where they meet new partners, like whether partners can be met on a dating exchange.
All partners involved need to follow and respect the rules and boundaries in order for the poly relationship to function in a healthy way.
There’s a Lot of Planning Involved
All relationships involve time and energy commitments. Spending quality time with each partner and making sure there’s emotional energy available for each partner in a poly relationship requires a lot of planning.
Often all partners involved in a polyamorous relationship will get together and set up a schedule of who is seeing who when. Or sometimes the partner who has multiple partners is responsible for scheduling time with each other partner.
Each partner understands that the time scheduled for a different partner is a sacred time, and they shouldn’t expect their mutual partner to be available to them during that time. Changes to the schedule usually need to be explicitly discussed so no one feels neglected.
It doesn’t need to be as rigid as this sounds, but scheduling is essential to maintaining healthy poly relationships.
Interested in Polyamorous Relationships?
If you’re interested in being part of a polyamorous relationship, either with your current partner or on your own if you’re single, be prepared to do a lot of research and have a lot of conversations. Being poly can provide a depth of experience that monogamous relationships don’t, but it requires a lot of work.
Check out our Love and Relationships section for more articles about building healthy relationships, which will help you start your exploration into polyamory off right.