So Your Partner Wants To Explore Polyamory – What Does That Even Mean?


Polyamory is a relationship style you may have heard a lot about lately. It’s in the media, there are reality shows about it, and it’s showing up a lot on social media.

What Does The Word “Polyamorous” Mean?

The word is made up of English and Latin. Poly means “many” and amor means “love.” Together, it means many loves. People who are polyamorous often say it means, “more love.”

Polyamory is a type of ethical non-monogamy.

People who practice polyamory may have multiple romantic relationships. Those relationships may also be sexual. All partners are consenting and understand that their partner(s) are involved with other people.

Polyamory is not the same as polygamy. Polygamy is when one person is married to multiple people. Polyamory is when you have relationships with multiple people. Polygamy is illegal in most areas of the world. Polyamory is not.

This is the simplest explanation. However, there are multiple types of polyamory.

Different Kinds Of Polyamorous Relationships

If your partner is talking about polyamory and wants to explore bringing it into your relationship, it’s important to understand that not all polyamorous relationships are the same. With that in mind, you should talk to your partner about what kind of polyamory they are interested in.

Here are some of the most common types of polyamory:

  1. The triad/quad – in this type of polyamorous relationship, three or four people are involved. They are all romantically connected to each other and usually, all sexually involved. They are in a committed relationship together and don’t see other people outside the triad/quad.
  2. The Vee – three people are involved but they are not all romantically connected. Person A is romantically involved with Person B and Person C. Person B is romantically involved with Person A but not Person C. Person B is the point in the V.
  3. Polycules – there can be anywhere from three or more people in a polycule and they may or may not be romantically involved with each other. The polycule can include people who are married, living together, or just in a romantic relationship. Someone you are not romantically involved with can be part of your polycules and they are called metamours.
  4. Soly polyamory – if you practice this kind of polyamory, you have romantic relationships with multiple partners but you keep your own residence (usually; there are exceptions) and keep your own business separate (like finances). People who are solo polyamorous prefer to avoid hierarchies.
  5. Hierarchical Polyamory – the original couple (usually they are married or living together before becoming polyamorous) are at the top. They consider each other primary partners. Other partners are secondary relationships. The primary couple might have the right to veto relationships or make rules for each other. They date separately most of the time.
  6. Parallel polyamory – people date separately and the partners they date do not usually have any interaction with their other partners.
  7. Kitchen table polyamory – people may have relationships outside their relationships but the people involved know each other and interact with other people they are having relationships with. They may have dinner together, go to events together, or do other activities, even when they are not in a romantic relationship with everyone.

What Should You And Your Partner Talk About?

If your partner has started talking about polyamory and wants to explore this type of lifestyle, there will be many serious and honest conversations that the two of you will need to have. This can be hard on a relationship if you’re not already used to these kinds of conversations.

Before you even consider entering into a polyamorous relationship, your own relationship will have to be on some pretty solid ground. 

If the two of you have problems with jealousy, polyamory might not be a good relationship style for you. At least right now. If you or your partner already have issues with jealousy between you, how will you be able to deal with one of you dating other people? How will you or your partner feel if one of you is choosing to spend time with someone else?

Are both of you able to let go of control? If one of you feels the need to control everything (or most things), that person is going to have to understand that they can’t control the other person’s relationship. No one wants to be in a relationship with someone who lets another control what they can do or when they can do it.

Honesty and the ability to communicate is possibly one of the most important parts of being in a polyamorous relationship. Can you talk openly and honestly with your partner about anything? If you have done something you know will hurt them, are you able to talk to them about it and come to a resolution without getting angry?

If you don’t already have a relationship where you understand each other, can talk and communicate well, and can manage your feelings, polyamory is not going to be an easy path for either of you.

Polyamory Is Not An Easy Fix

Some people think that polyamory is an easier way to have relationships. This couldn’t be anything further from the truth. Polyamory can be rewarding. But it isn’t easy.

If you have a hard time staying faithful in your marriage, polyamory isn’t going to make it simpler. It will probably bring more complications because a poly relationship isn’t just about sex. Although you may have sex with your other partners, polyamory is about love and serious relationships.

Think about this – if maintaining a relationship between two people is hard (and most people will agree that it is!), how much more complicated will it be when there are multiple people involved? There will be the feelings of three (or more) people to consider if there’s a problem, instead of just the two of you. There will be three (or more) schedules to take into account when you want to make plans, instead of only two schedules.

If you and your partner are interested in polyamory, you should spend a great deal of time talking about it together. You should also talk to other people who have been polyamorous for a significant period of time. There are Facebook Groups, websites, forums, and other places where you can learn about polyamory from people who are polyamorous.

Finally, if you find you have some issues to work on as a couple first, consider talking to a therapist or counselor. Some professionals specialize in working with couples who are interested in or who live the polyamorous life and they can guide you on your path.

Written by Autumn Seave