Intimacy, safety, and acceptance is the cornerstone of what helps us function in the world. As we find these things in our romantic relationships, partnership looks differently than the cookie cutter love we regarded in generations prior.
For many people, ideas of ethical nonmonogamy have become a significant part of this new normal. Whether you are new to the concept or have found your comforts, understanding the benefits of polyamory can unexpectedly shape your life in ways that you could not have imagined before.
Polyamory is defined as the practice of engaging in multiple romantic relationships, with the consent of all parties involved. In contrast to the extramarital affairs of an open relationship; even though physical intimacy is involved, the core of polyamorous relationships focuses more on emotional connection.
It is commonly believed that polyamory only embodies how many sexcapades couples can find themselves in. In comparison to the multitude of people who are believed to enter a poly couple’s bed, they typically just engage in sex with the partners that they already have. Moreover, some partners of these dynamics consider themselves to be asexual and do not deem intercourse as a necessity for a fulfilling relationship whatsoever.
It should also be noted that polyamory is not synonymous with polygamy. Often associated with religious practices, polygamy involves plural marriage which is considered illegal in the United States. Due to typical imbalances in the relationship as well, polygamy favors men who hold power over their wives.
Even though people believe that these words are so closely related because of such similar speech patterns, polyamory is based upon non-hierarchical connections, liberation, and is considered lawful. According to the National Library of Medicine, 1 in 6 Americans have expressed an interest in polyamory, while 1 in 9 of them have engaged in it. As people reevaluate what successful family units and love can look like, alternative relationships have become more sought after and accepted in the past several years.
What can Polyamory look Like?
Polyamorous relationships look different for every couple and consist of several different dynamics. Whether individuals find themselves in quad, polycule, or parallel types of poly relationships, couples determine what works best for them as they continue to grow and love.
When one poly couple decides to date another, a quad relationship begins to form where connections may develop between all four individuals. However, parallel polyamory is built around outside partners not having the opportunity to make their own connections with one another; in this case, the relationships stay separate. While polycule relationships look like an interconnected web of polyamorous individuals who are all involved with one another in some capacity.
Within the community, some of the most popular dynamics consist of Triad, Solo, or “Kitchen Table” forms of connection.
Most commonly known as a “throuple”, a Triad relationship involves three people. While all three individuals do not have to specifically date one another, they view each other as equal partners in the relationship. Under the poly umbrella, a throuple can become polycule if those involved decide to date other people outside of their arrangement.
“Kitchen Table” polyamory is the most family-like type of dynamic. In this network, couples often share aspects of their lives like living arrangements or combined finances to add practical comforts to the relationship. Moreover, the very common proverb, “it takes a village to raise a child” becomes a reality for many couples with children who find themselves in this particular situation (Business Insider).
Responsibilities around the home typically become a little easier as multiple people take on various everyday tasks. As one person may mainly oversee grocery shopping during the week, someone tackles the laundry and chores, while another partner may get the children to their extracurriculars. Additionally, someone would constantly be around to maintain a sense of stability for the children as these partners may date and maintain separate relationships outside of the home.
In an entirely different light, solo polyamory involves individuals who do not intend to combine any major aspects of their lives with the people that they date. According to Stephanie M. Sullivan, MS, LLMFT, some people even prefer a nomadic lifestyle and while they will often consider their significant others when making important decisions, they will not allow them to dictate the final outcome. Even with this ideology, solo polyamorists can still maintain serious relationships.
What Are the Benefits of Polyamory Relationships?
As unconventional as polyamory may seem, it yields benefits that some couples cannot even obtain in monogamous commitments. Poly individuals gain a better sense of themselves while maintaining or increasing the overall satisfaction that they feel in their partnerships. Furthermore, many say that finding community with like-minded people has been just as fulfilling as their romantic connections.
As nice as the idea may be; realistically, we will not be able to fulfill our partner’s need every time the opportunity presents itself. While this does not mean we are not doing our best, we are individuals trying to account for things happening in our own lives as well. Polyamory eases this pressure because another partner is present to pick up where one may fall short.
In these cases, couples become even more content because they know how to adjust their expectations based on what it is that their partners can provide.
Excessive jealousy is another huge misconception that many people believe takes place in polyamorous unions. While jealousy naturally happens in every relationship, it may be less likely to occur here because of how often partners have to communicate. This open line creates a space for them to assess their levels of self-awareness.
Constantly being in the company of multiple people who share different perspectives provokes these individuals to become more empathetic as well. To reach resolve and live peacefully, it would benefit these partners to maintain vulnerability and practice open-mindedness.
While people may enter poly lifestyles in search of more adventurous sex, finding community has been one of the most valuable outcomes. As many can discover how isolated they feel from friends and loved ones who cannot relate to this new aspect of their lives, other degrees of “Kitchen Table” polyamory offer them solace.
Educator Leanne Yau describes it as such, “this [KTP] basically curates a sort of found family or chosen family dynamic, so there’s a lot of interconnectivity among the polycule and all its members,” (Well + Good).
When all we could consider were unions that mirrored what our grandparents had, times and mindsets have changed as we redefine what relationship looks like for all of us. Whether you decide to commit to one person or explore the world of ethical nonmonogamy, love, and community are attainable.
Moreover, regardless of whatever dynamic you find yourself in; with an open mind and effective communication, you can improve your relationships, find community, and become more self-aware as you learn and love more. To keep discovering, read “Breaking the Monogamy Mold”.
As always, Kiss & Tell Magazine thanks you all for your continued love and support this year. We want to hear your thoughts too though, so head to the comments section below, and let’s keep this conversation going!
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