Explained: What is Polyamory?

The societal standard for both heterosexual and same-sex relationships is in one way or the other tilted towards monogamy, which without doubts proffers quite a number of advantages. Right from birth as individuals, we are raised with the songs of monogamy humming from the background; the result is that over time, most of us become conditioned to regard monogamy as the natural and religious way to go about sexual relationships. A significant number of scientists, however, believe that the monogamous way of relationships within the context of human sexuality wasn’t the original practice of our ancestors. Reiterating this notion Hadar Aviram, Professor of Law at the UC Hastings College of Law, is quoted as saying ‘sexual exclusivity was a practice that arose much later in the history of human evolution.’ In the 21st century far from the time of our ancestors, a minority group of individuals has decided to opt out from societal recommendations in favor of the sexual orientation that is polyamory

Monogamous relationships can get, well, monotonous. Polyamory or ethical nonmonogamy in its purest form is a relationship setting where monotony is almost non-existent, what saturates the clime instead is love, intimacy and care shared in a non-arbitrary manner among and with the consent of every party involved in the relationship. The word made famous by a citation in a 1990 publication ‘A Bouquet of Lovers,’ is a merger of two words, Poly (many) and Amor (Lovers) that directly translates to many lovers or loving many. This summarizes the basic premise of a polyamorous relationship ‘love amongst many lovers.’

According to recent stats, the number of individuals who would willingly opt in for this kind of relationship setting is on the rise, and for a good reason. Research conducted by James Fleckenstein and Durell Cox of the University of Oklahoma (2012)revealed that individuals in polyamorous relationships are not only happier than their monogamous counterparts, but they also have better health and are sexually more active. Statistics further point out that one in every five single American has at one point in time engaged in polyamorous relationships. The marked rise in adoption rates of this wave of sexuality can be attributed to a lot of things of which the main is, its promise of a happier and more fulfilling relationship. And while secular opinion is that this notion of providing a more fulfilling platform for relationships is a farce, statistics beg to differ. Extrapolating data from her 2014 review paper, Terri Conle points out that not only do individuals in a polyamorous relationship have more friends than their monogamous partners, they were also better at communicating with each other. For such individuals polyamory presents a clear cut path to happiness and satisfaction.


In its essential and purest form, a polyamorous relationship is non-segregating, without any hierarchy and with the full consent of all involved parties. This means that all sides are actively involved in and participate with unrestricted access to all activities of such relationship. That said, various modification of this base template exist, each with its one peculiar difference from the standard definition of Polyamory For the general public polyamory as a term encompasses all of them. They Include;


In this polyamorous setting, an already established may couple enlist the participation of a third party solely for recreational purposes. The couple still maintains their two-tier relationship as the newcomer is, but just a means to the end of having fun.


Polyfidelity exists within the context of group relationships where sexual intimacy is restricted to select members of the general relationship family. Although the parties involved all hold the title of being married to each other; certain individuals may decide to engage in sexual activities with choice members of the relationship group.

Hierarchal Polyamory

The typical scenario that connotes a hierarchal polyamory is one where an already extant couple decides to incorporate a third party into the relationship. The already existent relationship between the couple comes first in other of relevance with the new relationship being appropriately tagged as secondary. What this means is that in the case where push comes to shove the primary or principal relationship would receive preferential treatment from the engaged couple.

Open relationships

In an open relationship, participants are free to engage in other relationships (usually of a sexual nature). Think of it as having an affair with a third party but this time with the consent of your partner. Such a relationship could be sexually oriented or more rarely exclusively emotional.

Group relationships

As the name suggests, a group marriage is characterized by an aggregation of a multitude of individuals who come together in a community like setting to love care and support each other. In such a setting sexual involvement is not mandatory and the emphasis is on emotional connection.

Sustaining a Polyamorous Relationship

While monogamous relationships tend to be monotonous, Polyamorous relationships, on the other hand, can be suffocating especially if the participants are ignorant of certain basic facts and rubrics essential to the sustenance of polyamorous relationships. The list below is a summation of fundamental principles that function as a guide to both newcomers and veterans in the scene of polyamory

Refrain From Imposing Your Relationship and Life Values on your Partner

This rule is a fundamental tenet of every relationship, from monogamous, polyamorous, sexual, emotional, you name it. It is important that to note that as individuals we all have a different perspective to life, each one of us being unique and exquisite in his/her right. Coercing your ideas and opinions about life on your partner in most cases is a clear illustration of the proverbial fitting a round peg in a square hole. Respect the views of your partner however obscene they may seem to you, and if you have any character trait you’d love your partner to emulate, it is best if you lead by example, and see if the follow suite.

Be Flexible

While partners are advised to abstain from imposing personal ideologies, it is important that they demonstrate a noticeable level of flexibility to promote cohesion in the relationship. Be open to new ideas, learn new things (that fit you) from your partner.

It is not in the Best Interest of your Relationship to keep Tabs

Let’s say you are in an open relationship, and your partner happens to engage in sexual intercourse with the third party on a fairly regular basis chances are that you may be tempted to keep track of the frequency of such escapades. The danger of this behavior is that in the end, you might resort to unfair comparison, thoughts like she slept with him three times last week, so she has to repeat same with me this week are bound to pop up. The culmination of all these thoughts is brooding and jealousy, both of which are sure-fire ways to potentiate the end of a polyamorous relationship.

Be Neutral in all your dealings

In the instance when there’s a disagreement between your partners, it is imperative that you don’t take sides. If you unjustly support one of your partners at the expense of the other, like lack of communication, it creates a divide in the relationship. For the victimized partner, it is an emotional assault that suggests he is secondary to the relationship, a notion you don’t want to introduce into your relationship.

Polyamory is not the Cure for a Failing Felationship

Contrary to public opinion polyamory is not the last resort for couples seeking for a way to rejuvenate their dying romance. If you opt in for a polyamorous relationship for the singular reason of kindling the dying flame of your relationship, there's every possibility that you will instead hasten the pace of its demise.

Effective communication

Effective communication is key to maintaining a happy polyamorous relationship. Make it a habit of openly discussing, with an aim to resolve, issues and problems as soon as is possible to do so. Allowing problems to go unresolved sets the atmosphere for an emotional divide between you and your partner(s)

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