According to Webster’s Dictionary, Polyamory can be defined as, “the state or practice of having more than one open romantic relationship at a time.” However, a better definition that is from the book When Someone you Love is Polyamorous, written by Dr. Elisabeth Sheff, says “The practice of or desire for intimate relationships with more than one person with the consent of all partners involved.” It also has been described as consensual, ethical and responsible non-monogamy.
Now, with the definition out of the way, why is polyamory such a big deal? And why talk about it now? Well that is because being “Poly” is finally considered semi acceptable, but is not de-stigmatized yet. Being Polyamorous is still considered outside of the social norm. When some think of it they think of Polygamy, which is being married to multiple people, or an easy excuse to cheat on their significant other or just an open relationship. That however is not the case in most polyamorous relationships.
Polyamory is having multiple real relationships, with open communication to all partners. It is not polygamy because that is still illegal, also, in most traditional polygamist relationships, the man has multiple wives but the wives cannot have other husbands or any physical contact with anyone outside of their husband which incldes each other. However with polyamory those rules do not apply. The open communication allows for each partner to participate in whatever they feel comfortable with as long as all partners have agreed on it.
It is not just an excuse to cheat, at least not in a real poly relationship it isn’t. It is real relationships that are being built with trust, communication and love. As well, no one is keeping anything a secret or going behind anyone’s back. Everything is out in the open.
Many people, especially in the millennial generation, are dropping monogamy for the more open, and sometimes favorable, Polyamory. Though many are opening themselves up to the idea of ethical non-monogamy, many are not. Though it is important to note that, polyamory is not for every person, nor for every relationship, it is equally as important to be open to the idea of others being in one.
Polyamory is open love, being able to love multiple people and it not take away any love from others. One UWG student in an early 2019 focus group on Polyamorous relationships gave the perfect example of a poly relationship outside of the sexual relationship; “Relate it to like a regular relationship where like, you have your first best friend, you have best friends from both parts of your life, you have the home bestie, you’ve got the school bestie, the work bestie stuff like that.”
The student went on to say, “I think you can relate it to stuff like that because loving this best friend doesn’t mean you can’t have love for the other best friend like you can love them the same, they can be friends like you’ll let them hangout without you. So if you think about it like that, that’s how people are so okay with polyamory, because it’s like, you can be with one person, and love them but you can also love someone else the same type of way.”