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Are you ambiamorous? The meaning of ambiamory for queer people and LGBTQ+ allies

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Aug 11, 2023

Are you ambiamorous? The meaning of ambiamory for queer people and LGBTQ+ allies
  • The LGBTQ+ dictionary is the gift that keeps on giving. These days, there is a word that describes every gender or sexuality, or relationship style you can think of. The word of the day today is ambiamorous.

    What is ambiamorous?

    Whoever said that you either have to be monogamous or polyamorous has obviously never heard of a spectrum! If you feel like you’re the type of person who could be in both monogamous or polyamorous relationships, you might be ambiamorous.  

    Ambiamorous is a term used to describe people who enjoy both monogamy and polyamory without a strong preference between the two.  It bridges the gap between traditional monogamy and polyam, offering a flexible approach to relationships.

    It’s important to know that anyone can identify as ambiamorous. Whether you are straight, queer, bi, or lesbian, ambiamory describes a feeling that you have towards the romantic or sexual relationships in your life rather than a sexual orientation or gender identity. 

    However, lots of LGBTQ+ people engage in relationship styles of all types, including monogamy, polyamory, non-monogamy, and ambiamory. Normalizing different types of platonic, romantic, and sexual relationship styles is crucial for supporting the liberation of queer people and the LGBTQ+ rights movement.

    The ambiamorous flag featured gradient stripes moving horizontally downward from blue to black to red with the Greek letter alpha in the center of the black middle stripe.

    Source: LGBTQIA+ Wiki

    Ambiamorous vs. polyamorous

    Ambiamory stems from the Latin prefix “ambo,” meaning both. This is an important distinction from polyamory because it recognizes that some people value monogamous and polyamorous relationships equally.

    You’ve probably heard of monogamy and polyamory before, but let’s brush up on the meanings of those terms to understand the full spectrum of relationship styles. Monogamy is the commitment to one partner, while polyam involves multiple consensual relationships. 

    Ethical non-monogamy refers to any arrangement where people have multiple consensual sexual or intimate connections. Polyamory, on the other hand, is the practice of having multiple loving, romantic, and/or sexual partnerships or relationships at the same time (with the consent and knowledge of everyone involved). 

    Someone who is ambiamorous is able to have long-term committed partnerships with one person or value partnerships with multiple people. This flexibility in relationship structure is what sets ambiamory apart. 

    Advice for queer people navigating ambiamorous relationships

    Ambiamory can apply to romantic, sexual, queerplatonic, or any other type of relationship. If you can easily see the pros and cons of both monogamy and polyamory or if you just don’t like identifying on either side of the monogamy vs. polyamory binary, ambiamory might be for you.

    I’ve personally been in both monogamous and polyamorous relationship dynamics throughout the course of my life. I value the stability and security that comes with monogamy (I love being someone’s #1). Still, I can also see how ethical non-monogamy can be useful in relationships to individuate and add healthy feelings of desire back into a relationship dynamic that has become a little *too comfortable.* 

    I appreciate ambiamory because it allows for a type of relationship fluidity that I’ve always craved. I currently have a primary partner, and we are in a monogamous setup at the moment. I’m monogamous at heart, but as a trans person, I also want the option of having sexual and flirty T4T dynamics with other trans folks over the course of my life. My only rule in my partnerships is for the relationship structure to be flexible enough to shift and change over time.

    If you are in an ambiamorous relationship, make sure to talk with your partner(s) and get clarity around what type of relationship style will work best for everyone involved. Keeping an ongoing dialogue about your needs, desires, and happiness in your relationship structure is important. Make sure to be honest with your partner(s) about your boundaries, feelings of jealousy, and fears around different relationship styles.

    Two lesbian women on a bed with white sheets making out, light pouring in from the window onto the hardwood floors.

    Misconceptions and stereotypes about ambiamory

    Unfortunately, no legal recognition exists for any type of romantic relationship outside of monogamy. Polyamory, ambiamory, and non-monogamy are still heavily stigmatized in society and associate open relationships with being immoral or unethical. 

    It’s time to debunk some common myths about ambiamory and other non-monogamous relationship styles.

    Ambiamory is the same thing as polygamy

    Ambiamory and polygamy are not the same. While polygamy involves multiple marriages, ambiamory is about the potential for diverse romantic relationships.

    Many people who practice polygamy do so for religious or cultural beliefs, although that isn’t always the case. 

    Ambiamorous people are cheaters or players

    There is a common misconception that any relationship style other than monogamy is just an excuse for people to cheat. However, ambiamory actually encourages open communication and honesty between all parties involved. 

    Cheating is about selfishness, secrecy, and a lack of consent, and can happen in any relationship, whether you are monogamous, polyamorous, or ambiamorous. 

    There is no spectrum of polyamory 

    Similar to bisexuality and pansexuality, ambiamory is a relationship style that suggests there are more than just two binary, opposing ways of being in relationships.  A lot of people don’t consider themselves 100% monogamous or 100% polyamorous, just as many people don’t identify as strictly gay or straight. 

    We can think of polyamory and monogamy as different anchor points on the open-to-exclusive spectrum of relationship styles.

    No matter what relationship style is right for you, keeping an open mind is important. All relationships have their joys and challenges, including ambiamorous ones. There is no relationship style or structure that is better or “more queer” than any other one. The relationship style that is the best is the one that works best for you!

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    Dusty Brandt Howard is a writer & a fighter. He is a trans masculine cultural narrator who builds worlds with words. You can follow his thirst traps on Instagram, his writing on Substack, or find him at your local queer bar in northeast LA.

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