It’s not exactly a term you hear thrown around at the water cooler. In a study conducted, out of 3,574 married couples, 15-28% had “an understanding that allows non-monogamy under some circumstances.” Among cohabitating couples the percentages were considerably higher (28%), lesbian couples and (29%) gay male couples a staggering (65%). There are actually three known types of Polyamory all consisting of non-monogamous relationships.
- The first type allows a couple to be intimate with others while still considering each other to be their “main squeeze,” meaning they can have sex and be intimate with someone outside the relationship, but still consider each other to be their number one priority.
- The second type is when one has multiple partners where one is equally as important as the other. There is not a single or main partner, each person involved is given equal time and energy, but there isn’t an extremely strong bond in either instance.
- The third type of Polyamorous relationship is one that consists of three or more people and is called a poly-family. It is an inter-relationship, in which there is a strong relational commitment between all members (which may or may not include sex). In the poly-family, each person is a priority and they all look after each others’ wellbeing.
Whether these relationships are experienced “out in the open,” (others are aware of the lifestyle) or shared privately only, there are of course benefits and downfalls. The poly-community is an extremely sex positive one, accepts many alternative ways of living and supports the beauty and happiness of a variety of forms of sexual sharing between consenting adults. Most often, a couple who chooses Polyamory has confidence in their bond, is usually extremely secure with who they are and what they need in a relationship and find joy in having close relationships on both sexually and emotionally with multiple partners and/or lovers. Polyamorous families in which the partners all live together reap many the benefits of household cooperation, which include more people to pay the bills, share chores, and tend to children. Sharing resources and combining income can make life easier. In addition, the following are also benefits: a sense of increased personal freedom, possibility for greater depth to social relationships, the potential for sexual exploration in a non-judgmental setting, a strengthening of spousal bonds if properly negotiated, a sense of being desired, increased self-awareness, intellectual variety, and the opportunity to discover new aspects of personality through relating to more people.
On the downside, jealousy can be a key emotional issue; just imagine if your partner suddenly said that he or she wanted other partners. Your first impulse may be to feel inadequate, hurt, and rejected. Consequently, if one partner is monogamous by nature and the other Polyamorous, it’s just not going to work. Other dilemmas may include: a lot more stress than a simple monogamous two-person bond, and relationship problems will be painfully magnified in an open lifestyle. How do you explain your new lifestyle to your friends and family? How do you decide who sleeps where and when? The potential for individual conflict is much higher. Are all Poly-folk bisexual? How will the kids know which mom is which? Along with the Polyamorous lifestyle can come stigma, segregation, and social disapproval. Can you handle it?