Most of us automatically think of a conventional two-person relationship when we imagine a romantic relationship. But love can be so varied and diverse, that it’s time for us to gradually relax our ideas of conventional types of relationships and be more open to all types (and colours) of love. Many of you are sure to have felt restricted by the conventional model of a two-person relationship, and would perhaps have liked more freedom. This is when words like polyamory, or even open relationship, crop up. Yet they are actually poles apart. We’re going to enlighten you and perhaps even show you that polyamory might be something that works with your relationship.
What is polyamory?
You shouldn’t confuse polyamory with an open relationship. However, both expressions are unfortunately often used as synonyms, despite each meaning something completely different. Polyamory is when someone has several relationships with a sexual and emotional component. They look for long-term connections, but with more than one person. On the other hand, in an open relationship, you only have an emotional relationship with your partner. In other words, you have sexual contact with other people, but only have feelings for one partner. That is very different to the polyamory relationship constellation, where you can love several people at once. Polyamory is a combination of two Greek words: polys for “many, several” and amor for “love”.
Yet, even within a polyamorous relationship there is no clear-cut definition. For example, just one partner can be polyamorous, or you have several partners that you love at the same time, rather than just two partners. Each according to their desires and in a way that is compatible with their needs and fantasies.
Perhaps you’ve heard of another expression as well: polygamy. This is where one person is married to several other people. However, this is illegal in many countries, including Germany. In these countries you can only be married to one person. In this case, and also if you are not married and in a relationship with only one partner, we talk about monogamy.
So, now we know what polyamory is, and how it differs from other relationship constellations. But why do people choose to have a polyamorous relationship?
Reasons for a polyamorous relationship
Perhaps you have been attracted to another person while in a relationship, but did not admit how you felt because you were with someone else. If you are in a polyamorous relationship, you don’t have to restrain yourself in these kinds of situation. You have the freedom to admit your feelings and love and lust after another person, or even several others. Perhaps just one person can’t meet all your various needs. If you have several partners, each perhaps satisfies a different need better, or maybe in a different way. For example, you want to live with one, and the other is more prepared to try out different sexual preferences. People choose to embrace this way of life not just for the freedom it gives them, but also the diversity that a polyamorous relationship provides.
So, how does polyamory work?
How might polyamory work?
We’ve done some research, and come up with a couple of rules that might help a polyamorous relationship work. Everyone takes a different approach to making it work in practice, so we’ve only given you a few tips here. It’s up to you whether you choose to follow them or not.
Clear agreements are hugely important: even in a conventional two-person relationship, rules and agreements are essential. But with more than one partner, clear agreements take on a whole new level of importance. You need to agree a few things for a polyamorous relationship to work:
- How many other relationships? Does it have to be fair between the partners, with each person only able to have the same number of other partners, or is one other partner enough for one while the other wants to love even more than two people? This needs to be agreed from the outset.
- What form of contraception are you going to use? To feel good and safe during sex, it is essential to talk about contraception. The safest form of contraception in a polyamorous relationship is for everyone to use a condom. If there is a main relationship, then they can also sleep together without a condom – naturally after testing for possible sexually transmitted diseases first. If it emerges that each, for example, only has one other relationship, then if everyone agrees and trusts each other, other contraception can be used.
- Loyalty: One-night stands are generally a sign of infidelity in polyamorous relationships too. If you have agreed who is with which partner and how many partners you will each have, then you need to stick to this. Otherwise, as we’ve already described above, it is in fact an open relationship.
- Transparency: Do you want to know who the other partners are? Here too, it’s up to you how you handle it. Some people might not want to make a direct comparison with the other partner(s). Others, on the other hand, have no problem with knowing who the other partner(s) is/are.
- Quality time: Even in a two-person relationship, quality time can get forgotten in the day-to-day grind. If you have to accommodate several partners, it becomes even more difficult. You need to plan time together with each partner, and then stick to these plans.
If you’re sure you want a polyamorous relationship, you need to be open about this when you meet potential future partners. If you only start wanting other partners in addition to your partner while in a relationship, you need a lot of tact when broaching the subject. And importantly, you need to clarify that the reason for your desire is nothing to do with your current partner; it is not because they are not enough for you – it is about you and your attitude to relationships.
Every relationship is unique, and does not need to fit norms or rules. You alone decide what makes a happy relationship for you. And whether you only need the one partner to be happy, or you can’t define it and want to love or have sex with several people, that is completely your choice. Because Love is Love and everyone deserves love ♥
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