Uncovering what is a polyamorous relationship may seem like a confusing topic to dive deeper into, but it's simple so long as you have the basics down.
I'm an expert on relationships with published articles on sites like Up Journey. If you're looking to untangle any confusion on the polyamorist relationship types, you are in the right place. I'll also go into whether open relationships work.
What is a Polyamorous Relationship?
Polyamory has romantic or intimate relationships with more than one person while maintaining a responsible, respectful, and honest connection. These aspects are a conscious choice to be with many partners. Also, it contrasts the social norm of choosing one partner to love at a time, also known as monogamy.
Don't confuse polyamory with open relationships. Polyamory usually has varying types based on the number of people involved. Like monogamy, a polyamorous relationship has boundaries individuals should follow.
Polyamorous Relationship vs. Open Relationship
The difference between polyamory and an open relationship is the level of commitment. Each consents to the other to have supportive and committed relationships. That includes others in the polyamorous group. In an open relationship, both seek other partners while committing to being each other's "main partner."
Both relationship types reject the social norms of monogamy. It seeks to build deeper connections with individuals outside of having one partner. With polyamory, people seek to experience a less restrictive romantic connection. Deciding on these types of relationships needs constant communication and understanding.
Distinguishing between polyamory and an open relationship is a controversial relationship question couples should have. Talking about these topics establishes boundaries and expectations and prevents misunderstandings.
Types of Polyamorous Relationships
There are a few types of polyamory relationships. The relationship structure can change throughout the relationship. Changes depend on the people involved and what their understandings are. Some polyamorous relationships involve two people giving consent to pursue relationships outside their primary relationship. Yet, different types have many independent relationships with more than three people.
#1: Hierarchical Polyamory.
A hierarchical polyamorous relationship has one relationship rank higher than others. In most cases, there is a "main couple," and both individuals will have other partners in tandem with their primary partner. Another way to characterize a hierarchical polyamorous relationship is when a group of people rank higher than other groups. These groups may also have a secondary partner. Since a polyamorous relationship does not technically limit the number of individuals, it's possible to have more than one level, like a pyramid.
#2: Anchor Partners.
Anchor partners are not exclusive to a polyamory relationship. But, this type of relationship is more common in polyamory than monogamous relationships.
#3: Solo Polyamory.
Solo polyamory is when one person has many relationships, but each relationship is independent of the other. Additionally, solo polyamory isn't defined by any rules. The person involved will often date people who are also in a relationship.
Polyfidelity is when many people are in a committed relationship and agree not to pursue any new relationships outside the group. Sometimes, a poly relationship is practiced within a larger group where everyone is committed to each other. While there are no set rules, usually, monogamy is not practiced within polyfidelity.
A triad is a polyamorous relationship between three people. All three people are equally invested in the relationship and often share romantic and sexual relations. Sometimes, one person may be more supported, but all three maintain strong emotional connections.
A quad is a polyamorous relationship between four people. Like a triad, all four people are equally invested in the relationship and often share romantic and sexual relations. There is no primary or secondary couple, and all four members maintain strong emotional connections.
How to Talk About Polyamory With a Partner
Talking about history, experiences, and feelings helps establish healthy relationships. Having a conversation about polyamory is on the list of serious questions to ask your boyfriend to learn about dating preferences. It's also important to be honest about your jealousy or insecurity.
Tip #1: Be Intentional.
Taking the time to discuss your intentions and have a dialogue with your partner clarifies your expectations. Talk about topics like, "What are your intentions for opening up the relationship?" Be clear about your intentions before having the discussion.
Setting clear boundaries and rules is important if you agree to have a poly relationship. Discuss the types of relationships you're open to, how many people you want to be involved with, and how you'll handle jealousy or insecurity.
Tip #2: Start with what works.
Discuss what's working in the relationship and why you want to keep those things. Talking will help your partner feel secure and appreciated. Having this talk is the perfect time to mention any challenges you've been facing in the relationship. It's also great to talk about how opening up the relationship could help alleviate those issues. Remember to ask your partner about their thoughts and feelings. This conversation should be a two-way discussion.
Tip #3: Focus on love.
The last thing you want is relationship anarchy, so focusing on love is important. In a polyamorous relationship, there's often an emphasis on communication, honesty, and respect. Keep those cornerstone values in mind as you have this conversation. Once all involved are ready to enter the relationship, set some ground rules to ensure everyone is comfortable and consensual.
Tip #4: Use "I" statements and Feeling statements.
In non-monogamous relationships, don't make assumptions about your partner's thoughts and feelings. Check in with your partner and use "I" statements when sharing your thoughts and feelings. "I" statements will help avoid any misunderstandings. Communication in any intimate relationship is key, especially in a polyamorous relationship.
Tip #5: Don't Rush.
Don't rush it. If either of you needs time to process your thoughts and feelings, that's okay. Take a break and return to the discussion when you're both ready. Not everyone will want to try polyamory. The important thing is to stay clear about your thoughts and feelings and to communicate with your partner.
Polyamory can be a rewarding experience for those who enter this type of relationship. Following these tips, you can have a meaningful conversation with your partner about polyamory. Also, it leads to exploring what polyamorous relationships could look like for you.
Frequently Asked Questions
While a multi-person relationship may seem confusing and emotionally straining, polyamory can be a very rewarding experience for those who enter this type of relationship. Below are some frequently asked questions about polyamory:
How can I ask my partner to explore polyamory?
Asking your partner about polyamory if you are in a committed relationship can be daunting, but it does not have to be. Start by asking your partner's insights about non-monogamy and why it interests or concerns them.
From there, you can begin to share your thoughts and feelings about polyamory. It is important to remember that this is a two-way conversation. Allow your partner to share their insights and opinions on this relationship style. If you both feel comfortable after the conversation, you can begin to explore what polyamory could look like for your relationship.
What advice would you give someone who might be interested in trying polyamory?
The best advice I can give to those who want to explore polyamory is to COMMUNICATE with your partner. Discuss your thoughts, feelings, and concerns honestly. Once you understand what polyamory means to each of you, you can begin to explore what this relationship style could look like for the two (or more) of you.
Does infidelity happen in a polyamorous relationship?
Unfortunately, infidelity can happen in any type of relationship - monogamous or polyamorous. What's important is setting ground rules and boundaries to ensure that those involved are comfortable. If infidelity does occur, it is important to communicate with your partner(s) about what happened and why it happened.
Are polyamorous relationships healthy?
All types of relationships come with their own set of challenges. So long as communication is a priority and everyone involved is comfortable, a polyamorous relationship can be healthy.
Polyamory is not limited to one sexual orientation or emotional preference. With that in mind, create relationship rules that safeguard the well-being of all involved. That includes mental well-ness sexual health, emotional well-being, and physical safety.
More Awesome Articles To Explore
Looking to explore the different types of relationships? Read these related articles to get all the necessary details.
- Strengthen your non-romantic relationships with this article tackling what a platonic relationship is.
- Dating someone who has just experienced a serious relationship isn't always easy. Watch out for these rebound relationship signs.
- Spice up your Tinder dating conversations with these questions to ask on Tinder for more engaging conversations.
Now that we've covered what a polyamorous relationship is, you can talk to your romantic partner about the possibilities. A poly person can love more than one person at a time and feel emotionally connected to them. They may have several committed relationships or date casually. Most importantly, everyone is comfortable with the arrangement and communicates openly and honestly.