what is poly?

Sometimes referred to as polyamory, sometimes as polyam (although, frankly, if you aren’t going to call it ‘poly,’ I say you might as well make the effort to say the whole word. It’s not that difficult.). Plus, “polyam” sounds like “poly ham” to me.

Polyamory is often translated as “multiple loves.”

It’s worth clarifying here that English is not as precise as Latin. Therefore polyamory refers to “multiple romantic loves.”

Otherwise, nearly everyone would be polyamorous. I mean, most of us have many loving relationships (or desire that). Instead, this term refers to a relationship style in which one is seeking/wanting/currently in multiple romantic relationships.

Polyamory means different things to different people.

Some use it interchangeably with open relationships, non monogamy, and other terms related to non monogamous relationships.

Some people use it to only refer to committed, romantic relationships.

I think it’s safe to say that the relationship structure is a very different choice than a monogamous relationship structure. Yes, many monogamous and poly relationships could look similar. But traditional/strict monogamy is actually very different than simply only having one partner (which some refer to as “polyunsaturated at one,” which means deciding you only want one partner at that time or some indefinite period, but not limiting what your partner does, or taking away one’s own autonomy to change their mind and take on another partner at a later date).

So whatever polyamory is, it is NOT monogamy. (Although it may be synonymous with other forms of non monogamy).

It’s important to understand that “only” having one partner does not necessarily mean you are not in a polyamorous relationship.

It’s worth asking someone who “appears” to be monogamous if they are in that structure OR if they just happen to only be dating one person at the moment.

It’s also perfectly acceptable if Susan only ever has the energy to date Paul. So long as she does not restrict how she and Paul feel and relate to other people, she may well consider herself polyamorous.

For more information on what polyamory “is,” I welcome you to read further in the “On Polyamory” section.

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