Maybe you have heard of a polyamorous relationship and you may be considering it. But, What exactly a polyamorous relationship, what does it involve and how does it work?
A polyamorous relationship involves three or more people who are open, understanding, trust each other and have develop physical and emotional intimacy. A polyamorous relationship can be casual or serious. It can be a short-term relationship or it can last a long time. It can be an amazing experience that is fun, exciting and diverse. To make it work, you need to have very good communication, understanding and openness.
In this article, you will know everything that is to know about a polyamorous relationship to help you decide if it’s right for you.
What Is a Polyamorous Relationship?
Characteristics of a Polyamorous Relationship
- 3 plus people in a relationship who have strong romantic feelings, care for each other and enjoy being together.
- It is an inclusive relationship
- Provides a sense of belonging and freedom
- Strong emotional and physical intimacy between all the partners
- It can be an open or an exclusive relationship
- There’s sharing among all partners
- Openness and honesty
- All partners are equal
- There’s no room for jealousy
- Different way of life and seeing the world
What Does a Polyamorous Relationship Involve?
A polyamorous relationship requires a higher level of compassion and understanding.
A polyamorous relationship is a more spiritual than physical arrangement. If you want to have the physical part then you may be better off with an open relationship.
A polyamorous relationship is an inclusive relationship meaning that what in a traditional exclusive relationship where only exists “you and me” everyone else is excluded from this romantic relationship.
A polyamorous relationship is not about expanding the amount of people involved. It’s a completely different way of living and being. At some level is exclusive to the specific people involved but it’s inclusive because of the mindset.
At a practical level it’s an exclusive relationship to the specific people involved. At a deeper level it’s an inclusive mindset, with the inclusivity comes the idea of sharing being together and caring or each other.
Types of Polyamorous Relationships
An Example of a Polyamorous Relationship
You met someone with whom you share romantic feelings after sometime this person introduce you to a friend who they’ve known for a long time. As you are spending a lot of time together sharing interests and enjoying each other’s company. You find that your relationship between the three of you is becoming more than platonic. You have a lot in common, can have fun discussing different topics, and you can hear and understand each other. Little by little you develop more emotional intimacy and at some point you may share physical intimacy altogether.
Provided this doesn’t create any negative feelings, raise any issues or concerns, you could be in a happy polyamorous relationship.
Polyamorous vs Polygamous Relationship
A polyamorous relationship includes 3 or more people that are equal partners in an ongoing romantic emotional relationship either sharing a home or dating.
Not to confuse a polyamorous relationship with a polygamous one. A Polygamous relationship is related to religion and it’s a male dominated concept of man having several wives.
Some traditions and cultures have arrangements where a man can have many wives, but a woman cannot have many husbands. This is known as polygamous to which we are not referring here.
Polyamorous vs Monogamous Relationship
The only difference between this two relationships is the amount of people involved. Monogamous relationships involves only 2 people, polyamorous relationships involves 2 or more. Both, monogamous and polyamorous relationships have the same problems. Although, the more people that are involve in a relationship the harder it is to solve the problems.
Another big difference is that a polyamorous relationship provides variety in terms of emotional and physical intimacy. Whereas, in a monogamous relationship physical intimacy is limited to one person, unless it is an open relationship.
Pros and Cons of a Polyamorous Relationship
Pros of a Polyamorous Relationship
- Satisfying all your needs: physical, intellectual and spiritual
- More honesty
- Reduced need for cheating
- More openness
- Less fears and attachments
- More acceptance in your relationship
- An expanded life experience
- A more dynamic relationship
- Less pressure for one person to fulfil all of your needs
- More creativity
- Less monotony, more variety
- More opinions and more points of view
- Less financial pressure if sharing the expenses (financial stability, easier with 3 + people)
- Extra skills and ideas from all partners involved to create something new or work together in a project
- Less need for cheating (because you explore variety in an open and accepted way by your partner) variety by default
Cons of a Polyamorous Relationship
- Small dating pool
- Social non-acceptance and stigma
- Requires more time and energy to be with multiple partners
- Everything that comes with having a relationship is amplified the more people are involved.
- More challenging to manage all the expectations of more than 2 people while considering everyone’s preferences and opinions in one relationship
- If resources are not shared and a partner spends more than the others it can become quite expensive
- The higher level of complexity of the relationship ( the 3rd, 4th, etc person increases the complexity of the relationship)
- More difficulty to reach consensus and agreements. 3 people bring 3 different opinions about everything
- Jealousy (fear of being left out of the relationship, feeling like not receiving enough attention).
Is a Polyamorous Relationship Right for You?
A Polyamorous Relationship Is Right For You If:
- You are open minded
- You aim to connect deeply with more than one partner
- You want to have a relationship that fits with a mindset of broader inclusiveness
- You are looking to satisfy your sexual, emotional and/or spiritual needs with more than one person
- You are not concern about social norms and judgments associated with a nontraditional type of relationship
A Polyamorous Relationship Is Not Right For You If:
- You are jealous
- You or your partner are unsure about wanting this relationship
- You are insecure about your current relationship
- You have underlying relationship problems that need addressing first
- You have conservative and traditional view on a relationship
- You are too preoccupied of what your family or friends may think if they get to know about it
- This relationship goes against your cultural values and beliefs, provided they are important for you.
Starting a Polyamorous Relationship
How to Find a Polyamorous Relationship
A polyamorous relationship tends to develop over time rather than something you find right off the bat.
A threesome is a straight forward experience that you can look for, whereas a polyamorous relationship is the romantic love between three or more people. Hence, it takes time to cultivate and develop.
Before Starting a Polyamorous Relationship
Friendship is the foundation for a polyamorous relationship. Before starting your polyamorous relationship you need to understand the concept of jealousy and ownership. Because being romantically involve with more than one person requires a different mindset than being in a monogamous relationship.
A polyamorous relationship is not adding one more person to a monogamous relationship. It is a completely different approach to what it means to be in a relationship and to share your life with others. If you would like to explore these concepts further, book a coaching session.
Before you get into a polyamorous relationship you should also consider the social norms and how important they are for you. Consider if you can easily talk about this type of relationship with your friends and family. Would you be comfortable being with more than one person and share your time, space and finance?
Make sure you don’t start a polyamorous relationship only for sex reasons or just because you want to have a threesome.
What to Expect from a Polyamorous Relationship
- Hanging out all together
- Loving multiple people
- Same problems and conflicts that with one partner, but enhanced
- Having a lot more fun and excitement
Everything that applies to couples in a monogamous relationship, also relates to those in a polyamorous relationship.
The more people in the relationship, the more complicated it becomes because everyone has their preferences and opinions.
The pros and benefits are more wonderful, but also, all the cons are more intense.
How to Start a Polyamorous Relationship
- Express your feelings
- Share your relationship expectations
- Set your boundaries
A polyamorous relationship requires:
- Honesty from all partners
- Clear boundaries to see how much interaction are between all partners involved
- Decide if you will all meet up and if you can all date together
- Decide on the level of intimacy you are comfortable with each person.
Having a Polyamorous Relationship
To have a healthy polyamorous relationship requires a different level of understanding and human experience, behaviour and interaction. It doesn’t have a hierarchical structure.
An unhealthy idea of ownership has no place on a polyamorous relationship because it will not let this relationship last any significant amount of time.
Reasons to Have a Polyamorous Relationship
- You have romantic feelings for more than one person
- You have a strong need for variety and diversity
- You don’t want a conventional type of relationship
- You enjoy different perspectives on a variety of intimate topics
- You enjoy having sex with different people who you love
How to Talk About Having a Polyamorous Relationship
- Share your feelings
- Consider what a polyamorous relationship involves in regards of the space and finances
- Talk about your reasons for having a polyamorous relationship
- Get clear on your expectations
- Agree how you will handle possible problems that may arise (we’ll talk about some of the problems later in this article)
- Agree if you want a casual or a serious relationship
How to Maintain a Healthy Polyamorous Relationship
- Everyone has to understand what exactly is a polyamorous relationship
- Get clear on what each of you expect from each other and from the relationship itself
- Equality is the key. A healthy polyamorous relationship is based on the idea that everyone is equal (it’s not two people vs one person, it’s each person having equal feelings for two other people). This way it’s rare to find that equality.
- Consider the time you will spend all together/separately
- Consider the resources you will all allocate to the relationship
- Agree to safe sex practices
- Manage any jealousy as soon as it arises
- Decide how open you will be with others about the unique nature of your relationship especially if there are children involved
- Regularly review the dynamic of your relationship with your partners and how they interact among themselves
How to Handle Problems in a Polyamorous Relationship
If you are getting on well with your partner but having some issues in your relationship. It may be the time to change the type of your relationship.
However, if the problems you are having is with the person, perhaps it’s best to end your relationship.
Regularly reassess your relationship to make sure your expectations are met and give everyone the opportunity to express how they feel about the relationship and see if there’s anything that is bothering someone or what’s on your mind.
This allows to identify potential issues in the very beginning before they develop and become problems.
Rules and Boundaries in a Polyamorous Relationship
What Are Relationship Rules?
In a healthy relationship rules are made based on boundaries.
Rules in a Polyamorous Relationship
- Everyone is equal
- Everyone’s opinions, feelings and needs are equally valuable (even if the financial situation is different)
- There’s no hierarchy
- The amount of time that you spend with each other should be more or less the same
What to Do in a Polyamorous Relationship
- Be open minded.
- Strive towards harmony.
- Be good at communicating your feelings and desires.
- Be able to resolve conflicts.
- Have a high level of trust.
- Put the happiness of all involved in the relationship as a priority.
- Agree if your relationship is open or exclusive.
What to Avoid in a Polyamorous Relationship
- Jealousy and cheating.
- Hierarchy, prioritising one partner over another, one person being more important or valuable than the other.
- Pleasing everyone.
What Are Relationship Boundaries?
Boundaries are based on preferences with the limits showing how far these preferences extend.
The limit of the boundary is the extend of your willingness to do something.
What Boundaries Should You Have in a Polyamorous Relationship
To have a healthy polyamorous relationship you need to be aware of each other’s boundaries, so you can respect each other’s preferences. When there are 3 or more people in a relationship is very easy to start compromising. However, trying to please others when you are not satisfied can quickly become an issue. So, it’s easier to talk about your thoughts and feelings as soon as you become aware of them without suppressing them.
Some examples of boundaries you can set for your polyamorous relationship are:
- Set the time each pair are to spend together to grow their dynamic
- Agree on much time you will spend all together
- Agree to safe sex practice, birth control and STD testing
- Address any jealousy as soon as it presents
- Agree on how open you will be about your relationship with your friends and family
How to Set Boundaries in a Polyamorous Relationship
- Express your preferences
- Feel free to share when something is not working for you
- Set aside some time for you to reflect on your relationship
- to make sure you express, listen and share your feelings and needs
Common Problems in a Polyamorous Relationship
- Legal issues
If you approach a polyamorous relationship in the same you would a monogamous relationship, you may have an idea of jealousy which comes from “sharing your partner”.
Before you begin a polyamorous relationship it’s worth exploring the concept of ownership and jealousy to learn that you don’t own another person. You are simply sharing your time and space with them and they are sharing the time and space with you.
Once you understand this, you would be happy to spend time with your partners and you would also be happy when the two people you love also enjoy their time together.
Nurture the idea of equality in the relationship. A third person that joins an established couple, for example, may feel or be considered less important. You can start by recognising that each of you are in a completely new type of relationship.
So, all of you need to reassess what your relationship means and agree on the ways you manage your time and making sure you are treating each other equally.
Boundaries need to be defined and re-defined. You all need to decide how are you going to share the time and resources between all of you.
Make sure you all express your discontent if you feel your boundaries are not respected.
Avoid suppressing your thoughts and feelings and letting them to build up. This will cause a bigger problem down the line, which you can easily avoid by being open and honest about your feelings and emotions.
4. Legal issues
A polyamorous relationship is not legally recognised as a relationship, so you may encounter problems with child custody.
There is no protective legal status for polyamorous relationships unlike domestic partners. There is also no right’s for the other partner(s) should one partner leave the relationship or die.
As a general guidance discuss and assess what would happen if you are to have children and what happens to the partner that is not the biological father.
If your relationship is serious is worth learning about the laws and regulations in your area and potential seeking legal advice from a qualified professional on legal matters.
Signs and Red Flags in a Polyamorous Relationship
Signs of a Healthy Polyamorous Relationship
- You enjoy your time together
- You can resolve the issues you encounter along the way
- Your time is equally spread between all of you
- You are able to share your resources and support each other
- You are able to work together on improving your communication to build understanding and trust
- You feel free to openly share your thoughts ideas feelings and needs without the fear of being judged
Red Flags in a Polyamorous Relationship
- You are feeling jealous because your partners spend more time with each other than with you
- One of you is feeling less important than the others
- You are suppressing your own feelings and emotions in order to please others
- Instead of hearing each other, you are trying to prove your own point of view
- You don’t know how to resolve conflicts and you are having more problems than what you can handle
Ending Polyamorous Relationship
When to End a Polyamorous Relationship
It may be time to end your polyamorous relationship when you no longer enjoy being together. When you argue more often than not. You don’t know how to resolve your issues, and your relationship can become a burden.
While some people choose to continue their relationship despite all the struggle and suffering, it’s worth taking the time to ask yourself if it’s worth it.
Signs Your Polyamorous Relationship Is Over
- You’re feeling left out
- You don’t feel understood
- You argue more often than not
- You’re no longer willing to take the time to understand each other’s point of view
- You’re feeling stuck
- You want to see other people or have a monogamous relationship
How to End a Polyamorous Relationship
- Recognise that this relationship is no longer working for you
- Identify the problems and try to work them out
- Understand what exactly isn’t working and why
- Share your feelings with your partners and try to hear their point of you
- Ask your partners about their experience of being in a relationship with you
- Learn as much as you can from this relationship so you can do better next time
How to Move On After a Polyamorous Relationship
Hey after ending a polyamorous relationship, it was reflecting on different aspects of your time together. It would be helpful for you to know what parts of this relationship you enjoyed and what wasn’t working for you.
Knowing this, will help you understand yourself better. In your next relationship you can build on the knowledge and experience of your past relationships.
The first step on the way to personal development and improving the quality of your relationships is taking the responsibility for your behaviour and how it affects people around you.
When you take responsibility for what you say and do and combine it with the feedback get from people that are close to you, you will find yourself in the perfect position to change your behaviour in the way that creates a healthy and loving relationship.
A polyamorous relationship is not for everyone. It requires a lot of effort, understanding and willingness to make it work.
It has many advantages and just as many challenges. The beautiful thing about a polyamorous relationship is the fact that you can share your ideas with more than one person and get different perspectives and points of you.
The more people you have in a relationship, the more complex it becomes. While in a monogamous relationship you only have to consider one person when making your decisions, in a polyamorous relationship you have to consider everyone involved. On top of that, each and every person needs to be happy and satisfied with the decision that all of you are making.
Hopefully, this article gave you enough understanding and direction for you to see if a polyamorous relationship is something you would like to explore. Keep in mind, that before starting a polyamorous relationship, it’s worth considering everything that comes with being romantically involved with more than one person.
So if you find yourself in love with two people, you’ll know what to talk about and what problems you can expect if you choose to give it a go.
Help and Advice for a Polyamorous Relationship
Tips for a Polyamorous Relationship
- Express your thoughts and ideas
- Share your feelings and needs
- Work on improving communication and build understanding
- Make sure everyone is equal
If you need professional help and advice, get in touch and we’ll be happy to help!
Frequently Asked Questions
Do polyamorous relationships work?
Polyamorous relationships work for people who love each other equally and have the right mindset to manage their time and space with more than one person.
Is polyamory the same as an open relationship?
No. Polyamorous relationship involves three or more people who love each other. This relationship can be open or exclusive. An open relationship is a serious relationship between two people who also agree to have casual relationships with others.
What is the difference between polygamy and polyamory?
Polyamorous relationship is a romantic relationship between three or more people who love each other and want to be together. Polygamy (according to the dictionary definition) is “the condition or practice of having more than one spouse at one time.”
What is a polyamorous relationship like?
A polyamorous relationship can be a fulfilling experience with variety and diversity of ideas and sexual practices. It can also be quite challenging if people involved don’t have enough understanding to work out their differences.
Can you cheat in a polyamorous relationship?
Yes. If you are in an exclusive polyamorous relationship with specific people and you get involved with someone outside of this arrangement, without telling your partners – that’s cheating.
Do polyamorous relationships last?
Polyamorous relationships last as long as the people involved choose to be together. The idea is to make your relationship healthy and enjoyable rather than trying to make it last as long as you can.
Are polyamorous relationships healthy?
Polyamorous relationships like any other relationships can be either healthy or unhealthy. It all depends on the dynamic between the people involved, their ability to understand each other and their communication skills to resolve problems they may face.
How to tell if a polyamorous relationship is over?
A polyamorous relationship is over when someone leaves and there are less than 3 people in a relationship.