A study conducted with singles in the United States discovered 1 in 6 people are willing to be polyamorous. Everyone approaches relationships quite differently. Most of the time, a relationship is structured according to what aligns with your values. Therefore, there will be those who are comfortable with a monogamous structure, while others may prefer ethical non-monogamy (ENM). A polyamorous relationship falls under the ENM category and differs from other ENM terms you may be familiar with, such as swinging.
The road to polyamory is not the same for everyone. If you belong to a polyamorous community, you’ll discover various stories of how people discovered they were polyamorous. At times, it is difficult to relate to the term when you’re quite unsure of what it is and what it means to you. This journey may require some self-reflection, which will help you discover the style of polyamory you relate to the most. Additionally, if you have been questioning yourself, here are 5 signs a polyamorous relationship might work for you.
What Is a Polyamorous Relationship Structure?
To understand this relationship structure, you need to know what the term means when it is broken down. The prefix ‘poly’ originates from an ancient Greek word, meaning ‘many’. ‘Amor’ is the Latin root for ‘love’, while Amour is the French word for ‘love’. Therefore, the term translates to ‘many love’, which makes sense once you understand the relationship structure.
Polyamory can take different forms depending on the relationship. The general style involves consensual intimate or romantic relationships with multiple people at the same time without deception. An example of a style of polyamory is hierarchies. Not all, but some polyamorous couples may choose hierarchies in their relationship, which describe primary partners, secondary partners, and so on. While hierarchies manifest in different ways, the general understanding is that there is a primary relationship while others become an addition.
Polyamorous vs Open Relationship
Some people confuse the two relationship styles. While they both fall under ethical non-monogamy (ENM), they differ in some ways. In an open relationship, couples pursue other sexual or romantic relationships outside of their primary partner. The significant difference between the two is that in open relationships, there is a full commitment to a primary partner. Therefore, there is an emotional connection only between you and your primary partner, while any form of outside relationship is more casual.
Open relationships have different types as well. For instance, in some open relationships, only one partner seeks external partners, while in others both partners explore. In a polyamorous relationship, partners are in love or can love more than one. In addition, there can be an open structure. An open poly relationship welcomes deeper forms of connections with others. On the other hand, there is polyfidelity, in which partners agree to only commit to individuals in their poly relationship. In this situation, other people would not be able to join the relationship.
Polyamory can be an identity or a lifestyle depending on the person you ask. Therefore, you may encounter different groups of individuals. Those who choose a polyamorous lifestyle are happy in this structure but can also practice monogamy. Others who see it as an identity view it as a part of who they are. This is in no way depicting it as an orientation, but more like a principle that they’re not willing to compromise. Whether you relate to one or both, here are some signs a polyamorous relationship might be for you.
The idea of loving more than one person is not foreign.
Outside of platonic or familial relationships, you believe it is possible to love more than one person simultaneously. The concept involves the expansive nature of love and having the ability to receive and give love to multiple people. In some cases, you may have had experiences with a love triangle. For instance, a love triangle may involve two women competing for the attention of one man. While the man may love both, the two women aren’t in love with one another. The genders will vary for different situations. If you ever experienced a love triangle and could not choose between your love for one or the other, polyamory might work for you. This is considering it is consensual on all sides.
Monogamous relationships are/were too restrictive.
A monogamous relationship structure is exclusive to one partner at a time. This form of relationship involves sexual, romantic, and emotional connection to one person. If you’ve been in a monogamous relationship and felt confined or unhappy with the structure, there might be something more suitable for you. You may not agree with the concept of “the one and only” and may feel as if there is something more. For instance, you may have fallen in love with someone other than your primary partner and weren’t able to pursue that in a monogamous relationship. If this is something that constantly happens in your relationships and it makes you unhappy, polyamory may work for you.
You believe in compersion.
This term describes the positive emotions someone experiences when their partner is happy with other people. Therefore, whether your partner finds sexual or romantic connections with others, you’re happy for them. So, if you’ve been in a relationship where you’ve experienced this emotion, polyamory might work for you. The idea that your partner can find joy outside of your relationship genuinely makes you happy. It is important to note that not every polyamorous individual develops compersion.
One person cannot fulfill all your needs.
The whole concept of relationships is difficult. It can be complex, from finding someone you connect with to having your needs met. While one person may satisfy you at the beginning of the relationship, things may change as it progresses. Although you still love your partner in these instances, you may feel unfulfilled in some ways. For instance, someone who is asexual but has a partner who wants sexual intimacy may consider polyamory. If you’re unable to meet your partner’s needs or your partner is not meeting yours, polyamory might suit you, as long as both parties consent.
Transparency is a skill you’re willing to cultivate.
When it comes to relationships in general, transparency is important. However, it becomes even more crucial when multiple people are involved. When polyamorous, you will have different experiences depending on whom you allow in your life. It is important to foster open communication and honesty. This will mean being open with your partner(s) about your relationship structure and processing everything that arises. Additionally, transparency may involve talking often. If this is something you’re always willing to work on, a polyamorous relationship might be a fit.
A polyamorous relationship involves individuals willing to commit to multiple people simultaneously. There are different polyamorous relationship types. Healthily navigating this relationship structure requires conscious choices and open communication.
There may be instances where you question your monogamous relationship structure. Perhaps, the values you nourish do not mesh with your current relationship. Developing these feelings may require some work in your relationship. However, if you believe these feelings target something more profound, look at the signs discussed above. These will give you a better understanding of whether a polyamorous relationship might be right for you.