What Does It Mean To Be Polyamorous?

Medically Reviewed on 11/30/2020

Polyamory is the practice of wanting and having intimate relationships with more than one partner.
Polyamory is the practice of wanting and having intimate relationships with more than one partner.

Polyamory is the practice of wanting and having intimate relationships with more than one partner. It is done with the informed consent of all partners involved and is called consensual, ethical, and responsible non-monogamy. If a relationship is polyamorous, it means that both partners have relationships with other partners as well.

Is polyamory a mental illness?

No, it is an alternate way of life. Polyamory is neither a mental illness nor a personality disorder. A study was conducted with around 1093 polyamorous individuals measuring the various criteria like need fulfillment, relationship satisfaction, and commitment for two ongoing romantic relationships. The individuals reported high levels of need fulfillment and satisfaction in the relationships with both partners. The findings suggest that polyamorous relationships are relatively independent of one another, which means the relationship dynamics with each partner are different. This study provides initial evidence that polyamory may be a viable and fulfilling alternative way of conducting intimate relationships, subject to cultural taboos. The relationship a couple is currently in maybe a committed one or even a marital one. However, in the relationship, the person who gets involved with another person does not involve marriage.

Another misperception is that polyamorous relationships are strictly casual, such as swinging relationships or open marriage. Many people think that polyamory is only for lust. People in swinging relationships are there only to experience sexual pleasure with no emphasis on the intimate, emotional part. On the contrary, many people involved in polyamory cite reasons, such as more intimate conversation and emotional fulfillment.

Polyamory does not mean there is cheating. It’s based on mutual consent and awareness. There are group discussions to minimize jealousies involved in maintaining polyamorous lives. People involved in polyamory have made an arrangement in which there is a commitment but no secrecy about the relationship with other people.

People involved in polyamory are the ones who do not want to stay in the conventional system of a committed single relationship or marriage. They want to push the limits of their experiences in every aspect of their life, including relationships because they often feel it is unfair to expect the fulfillment of all monetary, emotional, and physical needs from one partner.

People in polyamorous relationships have been facing discrimination for a long time due to the lack of social acceptance and associated social stigma. They were not entitled to any rights that are generally available to married couples. However, gradually, it seems positive changes are on the horizon. Recently, Somerville, Massachusetts, became the first city in the United States to extend domestic partnership rights to people who claimed to be practicing polyamory. The city now permits access to the polyamorous people to enjoy similar rights as the married people. These rights are property inheritance, shared health insurance coverage, nursing home visits, and family-only hospital.

Do polyamorous people experience satisfying lives?

Polyamorous people are seen to find greater happiness in their lives after taking the plunge into polyamory. They consider their lives more exciting, and their sex life more satisfying.

It is hard to say which is one is the best amongst the two, staying in a monogamous relationship or exploring the polyamorous aspect. The decision depends on the person’s as well as their current partner’s or spouse’s preferences. The person must discuss with them if they also want the same thing from their life. The topic of polyamory may be a sensitive one to the partner/spouse and needs to be brought up gradually and patiently.

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Medically Reviewed on 11/30/2020
References
Fairbrother N. Hart TA, Fairbrother M. Open Relationship Prevalence, Characteristics, and Correlates in a Nationally Representative Sample of Canadian Adults. J Sex Res. July-August 2019; 56(6):695-704. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30932711/

National Coalition for Sexual Freedom. Polyamory Has Become a Little More Mainstream. October 5, 2020. https://ncsfreedom.org/2020/10/05/polyamory-has-become-a-little-more-mainstream/

Mitchell ME, Bartholomew K, Cobb RJ. Need Fulfillment in Polyamorous Relationships. J Sex Res. 2014;51(3):329-39. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23541166/