Maybe you’ve long been curious about exploring a lifestyle with multiple lovers, or your BFF is a proponent and you want to understand them ~on a deeper level.~ Well, wherever your interest stems from, you’ve clearly found yourself wondering, what’s the difference between polyamory and polygamy?
First off, if you feel like polyamory is suddenly everywhere, you’re not dreaming. Experts attribute the growing interest in polyamory, also known as consensual non-monogamy, to a variety of reasons ranging from the proliferation of dating apps to a more agnostic culture. Plus, many millennials grew up in homes with divorced parents, and seeing the shortfalls of monogamy, became open to new ideas.
What are polygamy and polyamory, anyway?
The basics: “Polygamy is when a man is married to multiple wives at a time, and polyandry is when a woman is married to more than one man at a time,” says Court Vox, sex and intimacy consultant and somatic sex educator. Polygamy may also be used to describe a plural marriage.
Polyamory comes from the Greek word for “many” (poly) and the Latin word for love (amor). So, it’s the practice of having many lovers. More formally, it’s defined as “the practice of, or desire for, intimate relationships with more than one partner, with the informed consent of all partners involved,” says Vox. “It has been described as consensual, ethical, and responsible non-monogamy.”
In general, polygamy has religious underpinnings, though it’s against the law in the United States. While some may consider polyamory spiritual, it isn’t rooted in any religious beliefs.
Some great resources to check out for a deeper look at polyamory:
- The Ethical Slut
- The Smart Girl’s Guide to Polyamory
- This Too Wild Orchids’ podcast episode
- Life on the Swingset— The Swinging & Polyamory Podcast
Is polyamory or polygamy the same as an open relationship?
Not always. Open relationships can be defined as relationships that involve partners who are open to making romantic or sexual relationships with other people outside the primary relationship, explains Dainis Graveris, a certified sex educator and relationship expert at SexualAlpha. Different open relationships have different standards and expectations.
“Not all polygamous and polyamorous relationships are open relationships,” says Graveris. Take a polygamous relationship in which a man can have more than one female partner, but he does not allow any of his female partners to have more than one male partner. And you could have a polyamorous relationship in which three people are dating each other, but they aren’t open to relationships outside of their circle, he continues. This is different from an open relationship that isn’t limited to specific people.
“Cheating occurs when agreements are broken and trust is lost.”
Of course, just like people, there are polyamorous relationships of all stripes and sorts. Some polyamorous peeps may keep their “circle” closed to three mutually agreed-upon lovers who cohabitate and don’t see anyone else outside of their tripod. Others may allow for additional sexual encounters but have a policy where flings never spend the night, and so on.
How does a polyamorous relationship work?
If you think communication is key in a traditional partnership, you better believe it’s pivotal when multiple lovers are involved. In addition to communication, Graveris zooms in on two other “Cs” that are essential in making polyamorous relationships thrive: consent and consideration. “If you want to make your polyamorous relationship work, you need to make agreements on what you want and what you don’t want to do in the relationship.”
A few more tips to keep in mind if you’re considering polyamory:
Establish clear emotional and sexual guidelines.
That means deciding if you’re giving the green light to short-term, long-term, casual, committed, romantic, sexual, or a combination of these things in relationships for all parties involved, says Graveris. “People need to mutually agree on the kinds of connections that they can and cannot pursue with others and with each other.”
This contract can be as broad or as specific as you want. “Be sure to clarify your specific terms,” says Brenda Wade, PhD, clinical psychologist and relationship advisor to Online For Love. Example: “How much time can you spend with another person? What can you do with that other person? And so on.”
Decide how much you want to know about your partner’s/partners outside relationships.
No matter what you decide, it’s inevitable that the green monster will appear from time to time. When this happens, and if you believe polyamory is right for you, acknowledge the jealousy and remind yourself of all your strengths. As soon as you feel jealousy arise, communicate openly and modify your polyamory agreement as needed. (At first, you may have said that sharing the juicy details of your sexual escapades is fine. But you could later decide that ditching such recaps is better for everyone’s wellbeing.) “What was working for one partner yesterday may not work months or even days later,” Wade says.
Remember the importance of “I” statements.
Using “I” statements instead of accusatory “you” statements can go a long way when having a conversation with your partner/s.
Vox says to try something like: “I hear you are hurt that I’m giving more of my attention to _______ than to you. Is there anything I can do or say to let you know how much I love and care about you?” over something like “Why are you being that way?” or “You have no reason to be jealous.”
Truly listen to your partner/s.
“You need to be attentive, not only to your needs, but also to the needs of your partners in the relationship,” says Graveris. For more guidance on refining this skill, check out How to Be A Better Listener and Improve All Your Relationships.
Be as trustworthy as you want your partner to be.
“There’s just as much room to cheat in a polyamorous relationship as there is in a monogamous one,” Vox says. “Cheating occurs when agreements are broken and trust is lost.”
And just because you’re in a non-monogamous relationship, doesn’t mean you don’t have feelings…and rules to protect those feelings. “These include not going behind each other’s backs, not lying to each other, and not pressuring each other into doing things that the other person does not want to do,” Graveris says.
Source: Read Full Article