The knowledge of polyamory and its different interpretations are still under-represented, although the word polyamory has become more and more popular in the mainstream vocabulary within the last years.
At this point, you would normally find a definition of the word polyamory I suppose. But since the word ‘definition’ means delimitation and as a noun is rather static by itself, a definition in this context seems to be simply wrong. Because what I associate with the word polyamory is the opposite of static and especially more inclusive than delimiting.
IF POLYAMORY AND MONOGAMY WERE A CONTINUUM
If polyamory and monogamy were to be found on the two ends of a continuum, then many of you would probably be on that particular side of monogamy when asked how you live your current relationship. For monogamous relationships still seem to be the most commonly lived form of relationship in our latitudes.
At least officially, this form of relationship is usually the form of choice. Unofficially, a large number of relationships probably migrate a little further towards polyamory due to the frequency of occurring infidelity. And also historically, the poligamous form of the relationship is not new, but has existed since antiquity. Only the name of living this form of a relationship has established itself since the 1990s.
VARIETY OF RELATIONSHIP FORMS
If we continue on the imaginary continuum, we will encounter many more forms of relationships on the way to polyamory. From relationship partners who occasionally invite a third person into their sex life, but do not have sex with others separately, to swinging couples, to different forms of open relationships in which both partners have sexual adventures separately from each other. And if we take a closer look at polyamory, it alone has as many shades as the aforementioned forms of relationships.
Somit unterscheiden sich polyamore Beziehungen zum Beispiel von offenen Beziehungen oder swingenden Paaren meist darin, dass es in letzteren meist nur um das sexuelle Erlebnis, nicht aber um ein Verlieben oder den Aufbau einer innigen Liebesbeziehung zu mehreren Partner*innen geht. .
Morning Glory Zell-Ravenheart, who helped the term polyamory to become more visible by living her polyamorous relationship openly in the 1990s, spoke in her text “A Bouquet of Lovers” of three basic principles of polygamous relationships:
- Transparency: the partners involved have several love relationships in parallel and all know each other
- Consent: all parties not only know each other, but also confirm each other
- Durability: the relationships are aiming to be lasting connections
Thus, polyamore relationships differ from e.g. open relationships or swinging couples in that matter that these usually are only about the sexual experience. But not about falling in love or building an intimate and long lasting love relationship with several partners. Through Christian Rüther came another basic principle: equal rights of the sub-relationships. So there is usually no relationship hierarchy in the form of a primary or secondary relationship.
But polyamore relationships can also be open and closed. For example, there are constellations in which a group of people forms a polyamorous relationship network that is not expended by additional people. In other polyamorous relationships, this extension is the case and is explicitly wanted.
THE MORE OPEN THE RELATIONSHIP FORM, THE MORE IMPORTANT THE COMMUNICATION
No matter what kind of relationship form you want to live, the basic requirement of any relationship is good communication. And while this also applies to monogamous relationships, more openly lived forms of relationships require even more transparent communication. The more open the relationship concept, the more communication is needed. A monogamous relationship might endure non-successful communication a little longer (whether that’s good or bad, I’ll leave this without comment).
It takes courage to communicate openly and transparently, to talk about one’s own needs and limits, desires and fears. Most of us I suppose are not born with this kind of open communication style. So you should be aware that the more open the relationship is, the more people are involved, the more communication will be necessary. An open relationship can therefore be a challenging learning experience to get to know oneself better, as well as to review and change one’s own communication patterns.
In many relationships, the topic of jealousy also plays a (big) role. This, too, is a challenge for some partners, the more open the relationship becomes. At the same time, it can also be an invitation to take a closer look at what the real need or fear is behind jealousy.
FOR WHOM DOES POLYAMORY FIT WELL?
If you feel like you’re (again and again) struggling with monogamous relationships, then it might be worth taking a second look at the different forms of relationship that exist. It is important that you are honest with yourself. And if you are already in a relationship, keep an eye on your partner and his/her needs. A monogamous relationship does not become a polyamorous relationship in case only one of the relationship partners wants it to be polyamorous.
So with this colorful bouquet of relationship forms, I do not think there is a form that is the ideal one. It should always be the way that feels right and coherent for all the relationship partners involved at that moment. From this point of view, the lived form of relationship may change again and again in the course of the relationship, just as our needs and desires can change depending on the phase of life.