Polyamory: what you should know about non-monogamous relationships

The concept of a monogamous couple is extremely old and nowadays it can be seen everywhere: there are countless examples in the media that show us couples consisting of two people. Another person often makes the relationship “a love triangle” and this trope is also widely discussed by many people. At the same time, there are lots of famous examples of those who went far beyond traditional monogamy: sultans with their harems which included lots of women who belonged to one man. The biggest harem in history consisted of more than sixteen thousands of women can show you that some people of the past were extremely far from modern monogamous views.

  • Brian , 53
    Los Angeles, USA
  • Michael, 39
    Portofino, Italy
  • Kim, 30
    Meycauayan, Philippines
  • Edith, 55
    Buenos Aires, Argentina
  • Monica, 29
    São Paulo, Brazil
  • Sebastian Sosa, 44
    Madrid, Spain
  • Sarah, 31
    Manila, Philippines
  • Mary🥑, 25
    Lagos, Nigeria
  • Iris, 34
    Hong Kong, Hong Kong
  • Bobby, 44
    Auderghem, Belgium
  • Scarleth , 48
    Miami, USA
  • 陈勇为 Michael, 34
    Beijing, China

Polyamory, or non-monogamy, means that people choose to have sexual and romantic relationships with more than one partner at a time. It’s different from cheating because it implies that all partners in relationships are aware of each other and feel comfortable with it. It’s considered that all the partners involved in polyamory have equal rights to date other people except their primary partners: they just need to be honest about it and not to hide the truth if they don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. The non-monogamous sexual relationships are seen in both heterosexual and homosexual couples and it seems that a competently composed union can make a few people really happy instead of ruining their lives and breaking their hearts.

In our modern world, there are multiple kinds of non-monogamous relationships which are not only still practised but also evolved into something new. Surfing the internet you can come across Polygyny - a relationship, where a man has multiple wives, polyandry - where a woman has more than one husband, polyfidelity, group marriages and others. All of these terms describe some kinds of relationships which consist of more than two sexual partners and it’s not that rare: according to some research, there are about 4-5% only in the USA who practise that. Even though the topic is not widely discussed by people, that still exists and attracts more and more people every year.

The concept might be crazy for most people (but so are such things as signs of bisexuality and other kinds of unusual relationships): it seems unthinkable and unbelievable that many people would choose that kind of relationship for themselves and their beloved ones. Lots of people having traditional monogamous relationships can’t handle their jealousy and suspicions, they constantly feel like they are going to lose their partners even if they spend time with their friends and do nothing questionable. There are always people who have trust issues and can’t even imagine their current partner attracted to someone else, so polyamory is definitely not for them. At the same time, even though it looks like not many people would agree to practise non-monogamy dating it’s not completely true: there are enough people who find their happiness with multiple partners who do the same at once.

People practising ethically non-monogamous relationships want to divide themselves from the terms like adultery or cheating: they claim that they would never date other people behind their lover’s back and it’s extremely important, to be honest from the very beginning and discuss everything in advance. People practising polyamory consider dating non-dyadic and think that the concept of being exclusive doesn’t suit everyone. “It’s hard to disagree when you see thousands of people who cheat on their partners instead of being in non-monogamous relationships. When your partner is polyamorous, they can meet someone special and leave you, but it can happen in a monogamous relationship as well” - say polyamorous people.

Why some people choose non-monogamous relationships

a group of girls having fun and taking a selfie together

While most people stick to exclusive monogamous relationships, the others are pretty open and clear about their polyamorous nature. They accept the fact that even though they love their main partner, they can’t find everything they want in one person regardless of how great they are. “It’s almost impossible to be a conventionally good monogamous partner if you still look around and peer attractive people around” - they say. “Being non-monogamous allows you to be honest with a person you love and still satisfy your needs. Indeed, if you’re all happy - that’s what's important”.

Knowing that the traditional pattern of dating has been changed once it’s easier to accept the fact that other types of relationships are as relevant and healthy as a traditional one.

People change their views on relationships during history. From the concept of classical or traditional monogamy, where people marry as virgins and then have exclusive sexual relationships with each other and celibate after the death of one of the partners, people moved towards serial monogamy - that’s the most popular and widespread type of relationships nowadays. You can date a person and be exclusive with them until you break up with them - and the cycle starts again. Knowing that the traditional pattern of dating has been changed once it’s easier to accept the fact that other types of relationships are as relevant and healthy as a traditional one. People choose to participate in open relationships because they like it, so there might be something that seems attractive to them.

Even though most people wouldn’t like to share their partners with other people, some of them would like to have one-night stands with other people without any consequences. Some people cheat on their partners for years with the same lovers: they even have their side families and children there. For some people it would definitely be better to choose non-monogamous relationships and to be honest with their partners: eventually, polyamorous people find lots of advantages in their type of relationships:

  • Non-monogamous relationships make people learn to communicate and discuss their feelings and issues they have. There are always people who feel uncomfortable in different aspects of relationships: while many monogamous couples tend to use “scripts” to speak about their problems and come to nothing, most polyamorous people need to know the right words to express their feelings and concerns. All the participants of the relationships are required to be very sensitive and listening to each other’s issues to find a compromise and solve their problems if they want to have happy and healthy relationships in their polyamorous group, so many polyamorous people often joke that they talk to each other and discuss their problems more than they have sex;
  • Sometimes people need personal space to spend time with themselves without their “main” partners to relax, think and love them even more. It’s easy to lose all the passion when you’re always together for a long period of time; that type of relationship often becomes very monotonous and looks more like a routine for people. At the same time, when they have enough sex, communication or care from other people they come back fully recharged and can give all their love back to their partners instead of fighting them or trying to find their flaws. Also, people having non-monogamous relationships often have enough time spent separately to do their hobbies, learn new things and be themselves, so they become attracted to each other even more;
  • It’s extremely hard for many people to find all they need in one partner. There are lots of lucky exceptions, but most people can’t have their best friends, lovers and soulmates in one person. We all have good and bad sides and it’s hard to be perfect in everything, so non-monogamous unions help people to have what they need in a psychological and sexual field. While centuries ago marriage used to have religious and financial value, nowadays our partners are expected to be flawless to fulfil everything we want. To admit that you are not everything that your partner needs - it’s a hard pill to swallow, but after that understanding, many people suddenly feel better, so it’s an opportunity to start a dialogue and discuss the relationship. Some people can easily learn from polyamorous people to discuss everything and express their thoughts because sometimes it takes a lot of courage and sincerity to tell your partner what you feel;
  • Even though it might be pretty surprising for most people, non-monogamous partners usually are less jealous than people participating in traditional couples. First of all, if a person decides to share their partner with other people, it’s a great sign that they’re much less jealous than many people around. It takes a lot of courage and confidence to make this decision: when we start to analyze our motives and emotions we can understand that lack of self-confidence and the fear of being rejected and left make the basis of jealousy for many people. We want to be loved and respected, we need to be important and valuable - but are these things always connected with monogamy? Well, most polyamorous people don’t think so. “When you do everything right, none of your beloved people feels abandoned and forgotten. We all can gather together and spend time well speaking and discussing many things, so communication is key in all types of relationships if you want them to be healthy”;
  • Many non-monogamous people tend to have good relationships with their ex-partners instead of dirty messy breakups and charges of infidelity. It’s better for them to discuss the situation in advance and decide whether both partners are ready to transform their relationships into polyamorous ones or not. If another partner is not into that concept, they can break up but still be friends and raise their children together. They feel that the dialogue which has taken its place in the right moment has saved both partner’s pride, self-esteem and trust. In situations when both partners are ready to transform their monogamous couple in something new for both of them, it can become a great start for their love and passion to come back and refresh their relationships. Many people can still love and respect each other but become tired and lose the fire inside - and that’s a nontrivial way to bring the passion back;
  • Lots of people practising polyamory say that sometimes it’s pretty expensive to live alone. It’s much more convenient to live in groups from the financial point and it also helps to share all the household chores among the members of their polyamorous relationship. Also, in most Western countries it’s expensive to raise a child, and keeping good relationships between parents in a non-monogamous relationship can also help to provide good upbringing to kids.

What you should remember about non-monogamous dating

a back view of three girls in bikini making love signs with their fingers

Just like in any other type of relationship some rules need to be followed to have a stable and healthy mental connection. Non-monogamous relationships are based on mutual respect and understanding and it can’t work if one of the partners feels like something goes wrong. Therefore, lots of things need to be discussed in advance to avoid resentment and misunderstanding. Polyamorous relationships are more complicated than traditional ones: while more people are involved, there are more problems and difficulties which require to be solved together.

Even though people often see polyamory as “free love”, it’s not free of rules and boundaries. Polyamorous people have many reasons to love several partners and their relationships are not anarchic.More than that, rules are vital and they are needed to be a core of every non-monogamous union and connection. It’s easy to understand that people learn all the time and it’s almost impossible to avoid all mistakes from the very beginning, especially when all or some of the partners have lack of experience in that type of relationships. That’s why new rules appear from time to time and every polyamorous union set their rules for themselves based on every partner’s personal needs and interests. It’s definitely not a thing which is accepted lightly because most people find the idea pretty new and unexplored.

A non-monogamous relationship without honesty is just infidelity.

To understand non-monogamous people better you need to understand their basic rules which help them to build happy and stable relationships with their main and side partners. While it’s hard to distinguish the right way to organize a polyamorous relationship, there are lots of ways to do it wrong, so there are definitely things these people need to remember:

  • Communication is vital. Every partner should feel free to discuss what they feel and think about the relationship;
  • An unsolved problem grows bigger and bigger, so it’s always better to discuss your issues with the others instead of coping with stress and resentments;
  • Jealousy is an important sign that a partner feels a lack of attention and has some insecurity or loneliness issues. Every member of a relationship should receive enough care and love;
  • Every member should be aware of others. A non-monogamous relationship without honesty is just infidelity, so be straightforward about your partners and you won’t have to cheat;
  • Every person in a group is important, so you shouldn’t forget about their right to express their opinion and issues. All the future goals and plans should be discussed together;
  • Safety is essential. If one partner is careless, then the others risk too, so everyone should be very careful and think about protection and medical check-ups;
  • No one should be forced into a polyamorous relationship to be able to spend time with the person they love. Sometimes it’s better to end the relationship and quit instead of doing something which goes against your principles and interests.
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