Do People Actually Have Polyamorous Relationships?

In a word, yes. If you’ve been feeling interest in exploring polyamory without guilt or judgement, you’re not alone. It’s estimated that 4 to 5 percent of people living in the United States are polyamorous — or participating in other forms of open relationships — and 20 percent of people have at least attempted some form of ethical non-monogamy at some point in their lives, according to findings at Rolling Stone Magazine.  So whether you’re in a relationship or looking to begin one, let’s flow through some options of how to introduce this into your love life. 


Shame Around Non-Monogamy

Shame, guilt, and judgment: feelings that may come along with just thinking about being with someone other than your partner. Why? Feeling connected to someone and being in a consensual relationship can be one of the greatest joys in one’s life. But just because you find this in one partner, doesn’t mean that there should be shame in desiring another. This curiosity to connect with others on an intimate level, also doesn’t necessarily invalidate your current relationship. Through effective communication and deepened intimacy- ethical non-monogamy is a path some individuals are considering in their current partnership. 


Definitions of Consensual Non-Monogamy

Consensual Non-Monogamy, (aka CNM) is an umbrella term that describes that all participants in a relationship have agreed to have multiple concurrent sexual and/or romantic relationships. Specific agreements can vary (these agreements can be broken into varying relationship types.) 

The Types of CNM Relationships:

Polyamory: The viewpoint where someone has or is open to, multiple loving partners simultaneously. 

These types of relationships tend to have more openness toward more emotional and/or romantic connections (versus swinging or a general open relationship, where partners need to be the primary person for emotional and romantic supply.)

Polygamy: This is very commonly thought of as the "only" type of non-monogamous relationship; it’s when multiple partners are bound together through marriage.

Relationship Anarchy: This is the practice that emphasizes autonomy, where people are able to engage in any relationship they choose freely without needing the consent of others within the relationship.


How To Communicate With Your Partner

We talk about this a lot at LOVERS, but in any relationship throughout life, communication is truly the key. Effectively sharing your own wants and needs with another can seem tricky, but here’s a reference guide for how to navigate CNM relationships.

Non-Monogamy Vocab Words

Compersion: This is the opposite of jealousy; it’s when a partner experiences pleasure from another partner's joy being in another relationship. Compersion is often called "sympathetic joy".

New Relationship Energy: This something most of us can relate to. This is the excitement at the beginning of a new sexual/romantic relationship.

Metamour: This refers to a person your partner is seeing, however, you personally do not have a sexual or loving relationship with them.

Primary/Secondary/Tertiary: These are ways to define the degrees of involvement, power and priority in a hierarchical relationship (Primary - 1st, Secondary - 2nd, Tertiary - 3rd).

Triad: Relationship involving 3 parties, typically forming a "V" structure. The partners in the arms of the "V" typically aren’t involved in a romantic/sexual relationship.

Quad: A relationship involving four people.

Polyfidelity: This describes a relationship between more than 2 people who don't permit other partners within the relationship.

*To keep in mind: this movement is still ever-changing in evolving, as are the terms included.

Further Reading

Kevin Patterson of @polyrolemodels recently hosted a Sex Ed Saturday about talked about media representation and polyamory

A Polyamory Study: Rolling Stone


With Pleasure,