19 March 2021 Posted By : Annie Hayes

Polyamorous relationships explained

Translated from the Greek and Latin words for 'many loves', polyamory is a form of consensual non-monogamy. As opposed to being exclusively committed to one person, poly people are open to having more than one romantic relationship at a time, with the knowledge and consent of everyone involved.

But is it really possible to have your cake and eat it too - and how exactly does it work? To dispel the common myths about polyamory and help you navigate the complex world of polyamorous dating, we spoke to sex therapist and relationship expert Tatyana Dyachenko B.SC. from Peaches and Screams:

1. How does polyamory work?

There is no one single way to be polyamorous and it can mean different things to different people, but on the whole poly people are open to establishing loving relationships with multiple people at the same time. Some polyamorous people have one 'primary' partner and one or more 'secondary' partners, while in other poly set-ups, every partner has equal standing. A polyamorous person may form separate relationships with different partners, or they could be in a relationship where all or several partners are romantically linked.

2. Is polyamory an excuse to cheat?

It's a common misconception, but polyamory is not an infidelity loophole. People don't choose to be polyamorous because they're reluctant to commit to a relationship. Just like monogamous people, polyamorous people put time, care, trust and respect into their relationships – but with more than one person.

3. Is polyamory the same as an open relationship?

While they are both forms of consensual non-monogamy, a polyamorous relationship is different to an open relationship. In the latter, both partners are free to seek out external sexual relationships, and sometimes emotional attachments. With polyamory, people develop multiple deep, committed relationships based on love and emotional connection. Some people identify polyamory as their sexual orientation, while others define it as a lifestyle choice.

4. Is polyamory the same as swinging?

Polyamory is not a form of swinging. Swinging is a type of open relationship as well as a social activity. Singles and couples, called swingers, engage in casual sex as a recreational activity with other single or coupled-up people – usually at a club, party or weekend soirée. With that said, some polyamorous people are also swingers, and some swingers have polyamorous relationships.

5. Does polyamory mean you're down for group sex?

Polyamorous people are not necessarily into group sex. Polyamory can include sexual relationships with more than one person, but it's not about getting jiggy with multiple people at the same time – unless you want to, that is. For example, a polyamorous woman may be in a sexual relationship with two different men, but that doesn't mean they will meet and have a threesome together.

6. Is polyamory illegal?

Polyamory is not illegal – but marrying multiple people is. Polygamous marriages are not permitted in the UK, and if it is performed, the person (or people) who are already married may be guilty of bigamy under the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973. Bigamy is the act of entering into a new marriage while your former husband or wife is still alive. It's a criminal offence in the UK punishable by up to seven years in prison, or a fine, or both.

7. What is the difference between polygamy and polyamory?

Where polyamory refers to having multiple relationships at a time, polygamy involves being married to multiple partners, which is permitted in some countries across Africa and Asia. In its most common form, polygamy is actually 'polygyny', where one man marries multiple women. 'Polyandry' occurs when one woman marries multiple men.

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