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Polyamory as a lifestyle

By on November 30, 2010

Polyamory is the practice, desire, or acceptance of having more than one intimate relationship at a time with the knowledge and consent of everyone involved, as defined on Wikipedia.

Polyamory, often abbreviated as “Poly”, is sometimes described as consensual, ethical, or responsible non-monogamy. The word is occasionally used more broadly to refer to any sexual or romantic relationships that are not sexually exclusive.

The defining characteristic of polyamory is belief in the possibility of, and value of, multiple romantic loving relationships with the knowledge and consent of all partners involved. What distinguishes polyamory from traditional forms of non-monogamy such as cheating, is an ideology that openness, goodwill, intense communication, and ethical behavior should prevail among all the parties involved. Powerful intimate bonding among three or more persons may occur.

Forms of polyamory include:

  1. Polyfidelity, which involves multiple romantic relationships with sexual contact restricted to specific partners in a group (which may include all members of that group) (e.g. group marriage).
  2. Sub-relationships, which distinguish between “primary” and “secondary” relationships (e.g. most open marriages).
  3. Three people romantically involved. (Commonly initiated by an established couple jointly dating a third person; however, there are many possible configurations.) (Triad).
  4. Relationships between a couple and another couple (Quad).
  5. Polygamy (polygyny and polyandry), in which one person marries several spouses (who may or may not be married to, or have romantic relationships with, one another).
  6. Group relationships and group marriage, in which all consider themselves associated to one another, popularized to some extent by Robert A. Heinlein (in novels such as Stranger in a Strange Land, Time Enough for Love, Friday, and The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress). Also works by Robert Rimmer, and Starhawk in her books The Fifth Sacred Thing (1993) and Walking to Mercury (1997). Vonda N. McIntyre features a polyamorous family in her Starfarers series.
  7. Networks of interconnecting relationships, where a particular person may have relationships of varying degrees of importance with various people.
  8. Mono/poly relationships, where one partner is monogamous but agrees to the other having outside relationships.

Personally I am a practicing advocate of the Polyamory lifestyle and when it works it is pretty wonderful. If you want to learn more on the lifestyle of Polyamory checkout these good books:

The Ethical Slut: A Practical Guide to Polyamory, Open Relationships & Other Adventures

Polyamory in the 21st Century: Love and Intimacy with Multiple Partners

Opening Up: A Guide to Creating and Sustaining Open Relationships

The Polyamory Handbook: A User’s Guide

Sex, Sin, and Zen: A Buddhist Exploration of Sex from Celibacy to Polyamory and Everything in Between

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