A Beginners Guide To Polyamory

People believe that everyone should seek out their one and only “soulmate.” There are others who believe that everyone should pursue only one romantic relationship at a time. In a society where monogamous relations are seen as the norm, other forms of relationships are gaining ground. Polyamory is one such form of a non-monogamous relationship. It is much more common than perceived. Some famous personalities that have opened up about their polyamorous relationships include actress Bella Thorne, co-creator of Wonder Woman, Olive Byrne, singer, and actress Willow Smith, and co-director of Thor, Taika Waititi amongst many others.


Understanding the basics

Firstly, what is polyamory?

Often shortened as simply ‘poly,’ it is the practice of having an intimate relationship with more than one partner with the consent of all of the people involved. The nature of poly relationships can be sexual, romantic, or platonic.


Why would people choose to be polyamorous? 

We can answer this question by asking, “Why not?” Different people engage in relationships differently. Polyamory allows people to become involved in various relationships that cater to the particular needs of the partners involved. 


How do I know if I am polyamorous? 

Simply ask yourself if the idea of having multiple partners sounds ideal to you. If you find yourself attracted to different people simultaneously, this could indicate that you are poly.


How can one explore polyamory?

Communication and consent are the keys to establishing a healthy polyamorous relation. Knowing why each of you is drawn to the idea is a great place to start. If you find yourself attracted to the idea of a poly relationship, then the first step should be discussing this with your partner. Communicate why you’re drawn to the idea and see if you’re on the same page.  Discuss the different aspects and ground rules of it with your partner. For instance, do you want each other to be informed of the others partners? If so, to what extent? But most importantly, don’t worry about having to figure it all out perfectly in one go!


Do people in a poly relationship not get jealous? 

Yes, they do. Jealousy is a natural human emotion. Commonly in poly relations, jealousy does come up at some point. Feeling jealous does not mean that polyamory is just not for you.  


How to deal with such jealousy?

The first step to dealing with such jealousy would be acknowledging it without shaming yourself for feeling it. Introspect where this jealousy stems from and communicate what you are feeling with your partner. 


So it is just like an open relationship? 

Nope! Polyamory and open relationships are not one and the same. Open relationships allow the people involved to engage in non-serious and typically sexual relations with people outside the primary relationship. These do not develop into anything serious. Polyamory, on the other hand, is pursuing multiple serious and committed relationships at the same time.


Let us bust some myths!

“Polyamory is just a fancy word for cheating.”

No. Poly relations are built on the foundation of explicit consent. Most polyamorous persons communicate honestly with their partners to set boundaries and ground rules. As opposed to this, cheating is deception and a violation of trust. 


“Polyamorous people are just afraid of commitment.” 

Actually, polyamorous relationships take a LOT of commitment. Being in multiple relationships simultaneously does not mean that a poly person cannot be “really” committed. Since polyamory depends on open and honest communication, commitment plays a vital role. 


“This kind of thing never lasts.”

Well, some poly relations last while others do not. This goes for monogamous relationships too. Some last while others fall apart. Since monogamy is the norm, people do not blame the institution when a monogamous relationship fails. However, when poly relations do not work out people tend to point fingers at the institution of polyamory. If a relationship works out or not depends on the people involved


“It is all about sex.” 

As opposed to common stigma, poly relationships are not purely sex-driven. Polyamorous people look for significant relations with genuine connections. They focus on cultivating intimate relationships. This however does not mean that sex is not part of the relation. It surely can be, but it is wrong to assume that polyamory is all about sex. 


“Poly people are more at risk of STI.”

Sex with several different people can be risky, especially if the persons involved are not taking proper precautions. This is not just for poly people but also for monogamous people who engage in sex with different people at different times. Openness, communication, and regular testing are essential in all relationships. 

The Atlantic


Polyamory comes down to the 4 fundamental values of trust, communication, consent, and mutual respect which applies to all forms of relationships. The concept of a polyamorous relationship can seem to be a deviation from the set norm for relationships. Something different from the standard romance trajectory of finding “the one” and living happily ever after.

There is no one-size-fits-all relationship, and everyone can choose to do it differently in a way that suits them. Every person has the right to pick what works for them and what makes them happy. This applies even when it comes to relationships. Everyone can choose the kind of relationship that works for them, be it monogamous or non-monogamous.

Illustration by: Abhilasha Muttoo


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