How Does a Polyamorous Relationship Work?

Reviewed on 11/28/2020

What is a polyamorous relationship?

Polyamorous relationships require trust and communication between all individuals.
Polyamorous relationships require trust and communication between all individuals.

The traditional belief is that every person should seek a single soulmate and they should commit to that person completely. There are people who don’t believe that a single individual can fulfill all their needs in a relationship, so they prefer having many partners.

Polyamory, or consensual nonmonogamy, is the practice of having multiple intimate relationships with the full knowledge and consent of all the parties involved. It is not gender-specific. Anyone can have multiple partners of any gender. Polyamorous relationships require consent, open-mindedness, immense trust, communication skills, clear boundaries, and mutual respect, without feelings of jealously, to work in the long run.

Numerous studies conducted in the United States have reported that about four to eight percent of the population are in polyamorous relationships.

Polyamory differs from other types of open relationships such as swinging (couples having casual sex outside of the relationship, without being emotionally attached). Polyamory may often be confused with polygamy. Polygamy is being married to more than one person at the same time, whereas polyamory involves both married partners having the freedom to have relationships outside their primary relationship. Polyamorous relationships are not illegal, but polygamy is illegal in many parts of the world, including the United States.

Polyamorous relationships face a social stigma. Hence, it is often practiced privately and maybe kept a secret even from close friends and family out of fear of being judged. Polyamory is not a sexual orientation, but more of a lifestyle choice. Numerous studies have reported that individuals in polyamorous relationships have more chances of practicing safe sex and get tested more frequently for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

Some polyamorous people have a primary relationship and engage in casual relationships with others with consent from the other partner. Some may introduce a secondary partner that requires the primary couple to agree on a set of rules, such as date times and the type of intimacy allowed. Some relationships start off as being polyamorous, whereas others may become polyamorous after being together for a while. Each couple may have their own set of rules. However, if one partner wants a polyamorous relationship and the other does not, it could be threatening to the relationship.

Polyamorous relationships definitely benefit from regular counseling sessions to cope with feelings of jealousy and anxiety, which may surface in the long run. The couple may start off being polyamorous but may want to change the parameters of the relationship and this is okay.

How does a polyamorous relationship work?

The reason why polyamorous relationships are not very common is that they do not follow the traditional social, cultural, or religious construct of relationships. Polyamorous relationships work for people who may travel a lot for work, have long-distance marriages, and do not wish to cheat on their partner.

The concept of “cheating” does not exist in polyamorous relationships because both of the parties involved are required to be completely honest about their other relationships.

Ultimately, being in a polyamorous relationship comes down to the people involved in the relationship. It may work for some people, but it requires being open and transparent.

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References
Medscape Medical Reference

Psychology Today


Archives of Sexual Behavior


The Journal of Sexual Medicine


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