For those who switch between traditional monogamy– the idea of only being with a single romantic partner– and open love, the poly lifestyle may be a new concept to explore and understand. Polyamory, which is defined as having multiple romantic partners, is a form of non-monogamous relationships, and it is far more complex and nuanced than it appears. Both in romantic and higher contexts, polyamorists generally strive to create lives based on purpose, self-love, and open communication.
In this article, you’ll learn all about the poly lifestyle, its principles and practices, the various dynamics of the poly community, and how to move forward with understanding and building open love relationships.
What is the Poly Lifestyle?
At its core, the polyamorous lifestyle provides a non-traditional format for pursuing relationships and forming connections with others. It is far from a form of non-commitment, as polyamorists value trust, communication, and self-discovery above all else. Commonly referred to as “ethical non-monogamy”, polyamory allows each person in the group to build and maintain relationships with those who are and are not part of the core relationship. In principle, all parties involved should be aware of and consenting to the poly lifestyle, and open relationships ,can be formed between two or more people. Ultimately, the poly lifestyle requires an open and honest attitude towards communication in order to maintain trust and fidelity.
Principles and Practices
At the fundamental levels, the poly lifestyle is rooted in openness and consent. Those who practice polyamory must be honest with each other and respect all partners involved. Partners must ensure that everyone remains safe and comfortable with the situation, and that all relationships are consensual. They also need to understand their boundaries and respect the other person’s choices regarding their intimate relationships.
Open communication is key to creating and maintaining poly relationships. It is important for polyamorists to be as transparent as possible and allow their partners to ask questions freely and openly. All relationships are unique and therefore it is up to the individuals involved to decide what works for them, as well as what doesn’t.
In addition to open communication and the recognition of everyone’s autonomy, the poly lifestyle revolve around taking responsibility for one’s own emotional and physical safety, as well as understanding the emotional and physical needs of partners. This includes understanding that cheating is never an acceptable form of non-monogamy.
Types of Poly Relationships
The poly lifestyle can be as simple as two people in a mutually loving and trusting relationship where they both agree to shape their love life outside of the traditionally accepted monogamous structure. These two-person poly relationships are often referred to as “closed” relationships, as both participants are committed to one another.
Three or more people may also come together and decide to form a relationship in which everyone involved is considered as an equal partner. These types of poly relationships are commonly referred to as “polyfidelitous” relationships, where all members of the group are committed to each other, essentially forming a group marriage.
Alternatively, some people may prefer the idea of having relationships without any commitment to a specified number of partners or even to each other. Such arrangements are usually referred to as “open” relationships, and they can include casual relationships as well as committed ones.
For those who are just starting out in a poly relationship, another option is to try a triad relationship. A triad relationship consists of three partners who are all committed to each other, but also encouraging of exploration and growth outside of the three. Many people find this structure to be beneficial as they are able to explore different types of relationships while still being able to rely on the strong connection within their triad.
Benefits of the Poly Lifestyle
One of the primary benefits of the poly lifestyle is the ability to enjoy multiple relationships. This way, those involved can experience different kinds of love, friendship, and connection, with multiple people.
In addition, the poly lifestyle allows partners to explore different forms of intimacy and appreciate the varying types and levels of connection that each person brings. Also, because each partner is co-committed and invested in each other’s development and growth, the potential for growth and evolution within the relationship is increased.
Moreover, the poly lifestyle encourages honesty, openness, and communication. This can help partners to build trust and create a stronger sense of security between all of the parties involved. Additionally, those who practice the poly lifestyle are often more able to foster a sense of self-awareness and self-love, as they don’t rely solely on one partner in order to feel fulfilled and happy.
Challenges of the Poly Lifestyle
While the poly lifestyle can offer a great deal of fulfillment and connection, it is also far from easy. The relationship dynamic can be complicated, and as with any relationship, misunderstanding, jealousy, and communication issues can arise.
In most cases, triad and polyfidelitous relationships require all parties to remain consistent and constant in their commitment to one another. This kind of arrangement can put a strong strain on the relationship if one partner is struggling or unable to keep up with the demands of the group.
Another challenge of the poly lifestyle is the sheer amount of communication that is necessary to ensure that everyone’s needs are being met. It can be difficult for everyone involved to check in with each other and make sure that everyone is feeling heard and respected, and it’s important to be mindful not to become competitive or neglectful of the other’s needs.
Finally, it takes a lot of work to ensure that all members of the group are getting along and feeling safe and secure. Practicing the poly lifestyle requires partners to be aware of their feelings at all times, and make sure that they are taking care of each other as well as themselves.
Moving Forward with Open Love
For those interested in moving forward with the poly lifestyle, it is important to be mindful of the dynamics and pitfalls that accompany non-monogamous relationships. It is essential to approach any new relationships with a clear understanding of boundaries, expectations, and communication style.
Here are some tips for navigating the poly lifestyle:
• Understand the difference between the traditional understanding of monogamy and the poly lifestyle.
• Educate yourself about non-monogamous relationships — understand what it means for both parties and for the relationship as a whole.
• Come together with your partner and set boundaries, express expectations, and discuss what you each need in order to feel safe, secure, and happy.
• Talk openly and honestly about your desires and boundaries, as well as any potential issues or misunderstandings that may arise.
• At all costs, try to be emotionally honest and transparent.
The poly lifestyle offers a great deal of fulfillment, connection and understanding. However, it can also be complicated and difficult, and so it is important to be aware of the risks and potential pitfalls of engaging in multiple relationships without the confines of traditional monogamy. Those interested in the poly lifestyle should strive to practice honest communication and an understanding of one another’s needs, in order to make sure that everyone is being respected and taken care of. With open minds, understanding, and open love, the poly lifestyle can provide a remarkable source of fulfillment and joy.