What Is Polyamory?

With the recent debut of Showtime’s new docu-series, POLYAMORY: MARRIED AND DATING, which explores alternative relationship structures such as consensual non-monogamy, we’ve been getting a lot of questions about the nature of polyamory. As we stated in last week’s blog, polyamory is practiced by couples who believe that they can also have deep, committed, long-term and loving relationships with people other than their spouse.

Our fear is that a lot of people will see the TV show – and much like the country’s reaction to the book 50 Shades of Grey – immediately dive into “trying out” poly in their own relationships.

Keep in mind that bringing new people into your currently monogamous relationship IS NOT 7.62×39 bulk ammo the same as reading 50 Shades and deciding to try a few kinky games with your partner. Polyamory is not something people can try, like taking golf lessons. Poly partners are people, not golf clubs you can sell at a garage sale if you figure out you’re no good at it. Our advice for couples who watch the TV show and find themselves intrigued by the concept of consensual non-monogamy is to NOT try this at home – not until you’ve done a lot of reading and a lot of talking.

First, understand the basics. Polyamory is a relationship model in which one or both partners in a relationship are consensually non-monogamous, meaning they can date – and yes, even have sex – with others. Of course, this typically begs the question, “Well, isn’t that just like swinging or going to wife-swap sex parties?” No, not at all, actually. What we’ve discovered is that whenever people who are new to the idea of poly first encounter the topic, the first thing they focus on is the idea of having sex with new partners. The thing that blows their minds is when we tell them that poly doesn’t even have to involve sex. It can, but it does not have to, because poly is about love first and foremost. But the one thing that can be said without backpedaling is that poly is not for everyone. Determining if it’s for you is where things can get dicey, because there is no test you can take that will tell you if poly is right for you.

Polyamory, like any relationship model, has its success stories and its horror stories. In the world of monogamy, roughly 50 percent of all new marriages fail, according to recent studies. Gay marriages haven’t been well enough defined or documented for any kind of definitive study about their rate of longevity, either. So, our view is that people are what make a relationship – from any model – good or bad. But choosing which way you want to go has a lot to do with how certain elements of relationships make you feel.

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