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All You Need To Know About Polyamorous Relationships


A study published in the Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy in April 2016 reveals that 21% of the 8,718 respondents have participated in a consensual polyamorous relationship, in which partners agree on the arrangement that each may have romantic and/or sexual relationships with other partners.

What the data conveys is clear: Polyamory is a relatively common type of relationship. But even though it may be common, the idea of a relationship with more than two people involved remains a taboo.

Polyamory is only a part of a much bigger umbrella of non-monogamy. The subject non-monogamy is extensive and complex, but in a general sense, it is divided into ethical and unethical non-monogamy. Polyamorous relationships fall under the category of ethical non-monogamy, which means having more than one partner is consented by everyone involved in the relationship. Thus, it is considered ethical.

How Does a Polyamorous Relationship Works

Polyamorous relationships

Unlike most relationships, polyamory does not follow the mainstream societal construct of a relationship, making it even more confusing for people outside the poly community. While the terms and structures of a polyamorous are ever-changing, one thing about it remains constant: open communication and mutual consent is the key to a healthy polyamorous relationship.

According to New York City relationship expert and author Susan Winter, a polyamorous relationship will only work if both parties are completely emotionally and philosophically on board with the concept. Otherwise, it is bound to fail.

While anyone can participate in a polyamorous relationship, it is definitely not for everyone. It takes unparalleled trust, honest communication, and intentional clarity to enter the world of polyamory. On top of that, one must understand their own wants and needs and be open about it and demonstrate an immense understanding of your partner’s desires.

The Diversity of Polyamorous Relationships

Unlike monogamous relationships, which by definition, are limited to one partner, polyamory comes in different forms. It may change over time, mainly depending on the agreement of the people involved.

Understandably so, polyamorous relationships can be complicated and challenging to comprehend for most people. That’s partly because each term and arrangement partners have agreed to varies from every polyamorous relationship. Generally, there are six types of polyamorous relationship:

1. Hierarchical Poly or “One Primary Plus”

Hierarchical poly image

In this type of polyamorous relationship, a central relationship is referred to as the person’s primary relationship. A person’s primary partner is most often someone who: is married to, living with, raising children with, shares finances with, and runs a business with, among other potential reasons.

Any partners outside this central relationship are considered as non-primary, secondary, or tertiary partners. While most polyamorous individuals dislike the idea of hierarchical poly, it is undeniable that there are critical factors that determine whether a partner or some partners are primary and others as not. For instance, you have two partners, and only one of them shares a child with you. A partner with a child is considered as the primary partner and might require more time and attention in performing parenting duties.

2. Non-hierarchical Polyamory

Non-Hierarchical polyamory image

This is the type of polyamorous relationship where no one is defined as a primary partner. By definition, it is the practice of having multiple partners that aren’t ranked by importance, responsibilities, or level of inclusion in one’s life.

People that participate in this type of relationship don’t see any of their partners as being more or less important than any other. Every relationship and partner are deemed equal, and everyone involved in this relationship is focused on all participants having their needs met.

3. Kitchen Table Polyamory

Kitchen Polyamory Relationship image

Focusing on establishing family-style connections among everyone involved in the relationship, whether any of them is romantically involved with each other or not, is all about having all participants getting along well. Its namesake is the idea that everyone involved in the relationship should be comfortable gathering around the kitchen table for a meal.

Relationships that fall under this category involve everyone participating in in-home visits, movie or game nights, picnics, outings, and other types of family-style gatherings. Most polyamorous individuals that are seeking for a kitchen table polyamorous relationship, often aim to live a lifestyle that includes mutual support and building a family of their own.

4. Parallel Polyamory

In polyamory, participants can decide the extent of their involvement with their partner’s partners. This type of polyamorous relationship describes a relationship structure where members have no desire to be connected with their partner’s partners. While some choose to be friendly with each other, those in parallel polyamory acknowledge each other’s existence but aren’t interested in meeting and establishing emotional relationships with their metamours.

5. Mono-Poly

A Mono-Poly relationship: is a relationship between a polyamorous and a monogamous person. That means the polyamorous partner may participate in other sexual or romantic relationships. In contrast, the monogamous partner is only interested in their relationship with their polyamorous partner.

There are several reasons why couples choose to be in a Mono-Poly relationship, some of which are mismatched sexual desires and distance limitations. For instance, if a couple is in a long-distance relationship, they may decide to allow the other person to look for other relationships to satisfy their needs while maintaining their commitment to their relationship.

6. Solo-Polyamory

Solo-Polyamory image

Individuals interested in solo-polyamory are generally those who are not interested in serious relationships or aren’t ready for the expectations and limitations that come with most primary relationships. Elisabeth Sheff, the author of The Polyamorists Next Door, explains that folks who participate in solo-polyamory relationships seek to be a “free agent” who can enjoy brief and casual connections without strings attached.

There are also some people that practice solo-polyamory that see themselves as their own primary partner and have no desire to give up their time and personal pursuits to dedicate the time necessary to maintain a serious relationship.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Being in a Polyamorous Relationship

We have put together a list of the pros and cons that entails a polyamorous relationship. If you’re interested in participating in a polyamorous relationship, it will help you determine whether a polyamory relationship is for you. And if you’re simply curious, you will find the answers why some people choose to be in a polyamorous relationship and the downsides of being in one.


Honesty: Being in a polyamorous relationship requires extreme honesty and transparency. Both parties must have the capability to openly express their feelings and desires, both emotionally and sexually.

Rules and Boundaries: Polyamorous couples work hard to establish clear guidelines and boundaries to make the relationship safe and respectful. Participating in polyamorous relationships means you must acknowledge what’s acceptable and what is out of bounds.

Consent: Consent is a crucial part of a polyamorous relationship. Everything that is happening in the relationship needs the permission of everyone involved. Whether that’s being in a relationship with someone new, sexual contact, and more.

Maximized Love and Support: Being in a polyamorous relationship means more people that love and support you. This applies especially to polyamorous relationships, with all of its members actively involved with each other.


Disadvantages of polyamorous relationships
  1. Insecurity and Jealousy: Not everyone can share their partner with other people. And even if you think you do, there may be some point along the way where you would start to want to keep your partner all to yourself.
  2. Complexity: Maintaining a relationship with one person is challenging enough. Imagine being in a relationship with more than one person simultaneously. Attending to multiple partners’ needs can be conflicting, and figuring out whose needs you should prioritize can cause a complication.
  3. Social Ostracism: The poly community receives more criticism than the LGBTQ community. While being in a polyamorous relationship is fairly common, it is still generally considered unacceptable.
  4. Sexual Health Risks: Being with multiple partners increases the chances of becoming infected with STD.

Understanding the Lingo of Polyamory

Understanding polyamory relationships

To help you better understand the nature of polyamorous relationships, we have put together a list of most commonly used terms you might hear within the poly community:

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About the Author

Michael Grant is an excellent writer and storyteller, which makes him one of the essential pillars of the content creation team. He's constantly traveling around the U.S. and loves attending numerous training and workshops on marketing and product development. He loves surprising the team with fresh ideas and the latest developments in the sex toy industry. His other interests include music and sports.

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Michael Grant Sep 14, 2020, 10:48 pm

Let us know your thoughts about Polyamorous relationships! Are you curious about it? Do you have any experience with it? Let us know!


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