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Polyamory for beginners: A guide to pursuing multiple boos responsibly

Robyn Exton

Jul 22, 2023

Polyamory for beginners: A guide to pursuing multiple boos responsibly

Do you think you’re polyamorous? 

Love, relationships, and how we connect with others have changed a lot. As society becomes more inclusive and open-minded, more people have opened up about their desires and needs, and that’s where polyamory comes in. 

If you’re curious about exploring multiple romantic connections at the same time, this guide  “Polyamory for Beginners” is here to help you navigate this world in the best way possible.

What does being polyamorous mean?

You know how monogamy has been the normalized relationship style for centuries? We see it in every romcom, in the traditional nuclear family, even within our family and friends. 

Well, polyamory is here to shake things up! Being polyamorous means you’ve got a heart big enough to love multiple people (romantically and/or sexually) at the same time.

Of course, you can say that we all love multiple people, but it’s different. 

Polyamorous peeps are able to have deep romantic connections with different folks while keeping everything consensual and honest. It’s built on communication, trust, and letting love flow in its many beautiful forms. In this poly paradise, love isn’t a limited edition flavor; it’s an all-you-can-love buffet! Plus, they have such a cute polyamorous flag!

Polyamory vs. polygamy vs. open relationships

Hold up; before we dive deeper, let’s clear something up. Polyamory and polygamy might sound similar, but they’re as different as One Direction and BTS

Polygamy involves having multiple spouses within a marriage, often tied to religious or cultural traditions. It’s like a one-way street where one person, usually a dude, “collects” all the spouses while everyone else sticks to monogamy.

Source: Vox

We are respectful of all beliefs, and we can recognize that polygamy is an arrangement that works and fulfills many people. Nevertheless, it’s important to be aware that there are patriarchal ideas behind the concept, to the point where people weaponize and twist its core meaning: a family built of one head spouse and their partners.

Now, on the other side of the coin, we have polyamory. Unlike its multi-partnered counterpart, it’s not about religious rules or gender roles; it’s about love in all its fabulous shades. 

Polyamorous relationships can involve any combination of genders and sexual orientations, and everyone gets a chance to explore multiple connections.

It’s all about equality, consent, and embracing new relationships with open arms. That’s why they’re under the ethical non-monogamy umbrella, where all parties enthusiastically agree to date other people.

Source: Prevention

Finally, we have open relationships, also a form of ethical non-monogamy. These connections are mainly about sex outside of a monogamous relationship

Here, one or both partners maintain healthy and casual encounters with other people, and romance tends to be out of the question.

As a reminder: none of these types of relationships are cheating as long as all partners are happy and respect the arrangement, so let’s bring down those stereotypes first and foremost.

Types of polyamorous dynamics: choose your way of loving!

Being polyamorous is not a one-size-fits-all way of living. Different kinds of relationship dynamics work for different people! Here are some of the most common ones:

  • Hierarchical Polyamory: Think of this as a dating power-up, where you have a primary partner with a special place in your heart. They’re like the Mario to your Luigi, sharing higher commitment and involvement. It might be the person you’re living with, the parent of your child, or some other connection that gives them priority.

    You can still have secondary or tertiary partners who bring unique powers to your love squad, which doesn’t make them less important! But time, responsibility, and other factors play a role in who the primary partner is.
  • Non-Hierarchical Polyamory: In this style, it’s all about leveling the playing field and giving everyone the chance to shine. Here, all partners are equal and get to rock their individual superpowers. This dynamic is for people who reject the idea of giving priority to certain partners, even if they have another level of commitment with one of them. 
  • Relationship Anarchy: Get ready to tear down the walls of conventional romance, my rebels! Relationship anarchy is like the Deadpool of polyamory—breaking all the rules and doing things their own way. It’s like a DIY approach, creating unique connections and defining your own relationship rules. Love is an open canvas, and you can paint it with your wildest and most authentic colors.

Source: Vice

  • Polyfidelity: Think of it like having your own romantically-involved Avengers. In polyfidelity, you form a closed group of partners who are all in it together. People might use the term “polycule” for these groups, “triads” if they’re only composed of three people, and so on.  This is like having a committed relationship squad, where everyone is romantically and sexually involved with each other.

    Of course, it’s not always as easy as having a group of random people and just deciding to be a polycule; sometimes, it’s two couples that want to be together, a secondary partner that falls for someone’s primary partner, and so on.

Source: Equally Wed

  • Solo Polyamory: Who needs a knight in shining armor when you can be the hero of your own love story? Solo polyamory is about embracing your independence while exploring multiple connections. You date folks, maybe exclusively, while keeping your own identity intact.

    In this dynamic, you are not someone in the relationship but someone who happens to have relationships. This means no moving-in, no marriage. The primary partner is yourself.

Remember, these polyamory styles are just the tip of the iceberg. Feel free to mix and match, create your own blend, and embrace the poly adventure that feels right for you. Love, after all, is the ultimate game, and you get to be the player!

Tips to begin your polyamorous adventure

If you have a partner…

Cuffed up? It’s okay! You can love your current partner and still crave more than one relationship. Here are some epic tips to help you navigate this new idea like a pro:

  1. Open and Honest Communication: Gotta have those heart-to-heart conversations with your partner. No sneakiness or lies—be open, honest, and vulnerable about your desire to explore polyamory. Create a safe space where you can share your feelings, fears, and dreams. Remember, communication is the ultimate rule for a successful polyamorous relationship.
  1. Educate Yourself: It’s crucial to level up your knowledge. Of course, this article is a great start (wink, wink), but you can also watch videos and listen to podcasts that explore this exciting love realm, like Normalizing Non-Monogamy! Join online forums and follow social media accounts where you can learn from experienced folks. The more you know, the more confident and prepared you’ll be on your journey.
  1. Establish Boundaries: Every hero needs armor; in polyamory, boundaries are your shield. Sit down with your partner and discuss what you’re comfortable with, what feels like a no-go zone, and where you both want to set limits. By defining the relationship together, you ensure that everyone is on the same page and feels safe,.
  1. Take It Slow: No need to rush! Take the time to explore this new territory step by step. Start by dipping your toes into emotional connections with others before diving into physical relationships. As you progress, check in with your partner regularly to ensure you’re both comfortable and ready for each level of the love adventure.
  1. Regular Check-Ins: Now that we mentioned it, make it a habit to have regular check-ins with your partner. They help you assess how you’re all feeling, make any necessary adjustments to your boundaries, and ensure that everyone’s emotional well-being is protected. Plus, it’s a chance to celebrate your achievements and express gratitude for the love and growth you’re experiencing together!

If you’re single…

Single and ready to mingle? Then there are some important aspects to consider before and while you dive into polyamory as a newbie:

  1. Self-Reflection and Exploration: Take a moment to reflect on your desires, motivations, and what you seek in relationships. Explore your boundaries, insecurities, and emotional capacity, so you’re ready to conquer the challenges and enjoy the wonders that polyamory might bring for you.
  1. Learn About Polyamory: Just like your partnered peers, you gotta do some research. Go read articles and books, and follow polyamory pages on social media, like @danaandthewolf, who have shared their whole journey since they found out they might be poly!
  1. Communication and Honesty: When you meet potential partners, be open and honest about your interest in exploring polyamory. Unfortunately, not everyone will be thrilled with the idea, but what matters is that you find those who are! Listen actively and respect others’ boundaries and desires. With patience and empathy, you’ll find your perfect matches in no time.
  2. Build a Support Network: You’re gonna need a squad, right? Surround yourself with people who understand and celebrate polyamory. Join an awesome app where you can meet other folks, attend polyamory events, and be open about who you are if you’re ready. Together, you’ll share experiences, get advice, and support each other as you navigate this new chapter.
  3. Stay Mindful: Take your time and enjoy the journey. Check-in on your own emotions and the well-being of your partners, ensuring that everyone’s needs and boundaries are respected. Embrace each connection as a chance to grow, learn, and discover your potential.

Polyamory IRL: What folks say

Hearing from individuals who practice polyamory can provide valuable insights and perspectives for your journey, so let’s take a look at some real-life experiences from poly peeps out there!

Franklin, The Greatist.

“Polyamory, while not for everyone, offers an opportunity for individuals to explore and refine their sense of loving support and intimacy by not placing the entire burden to do all and be all on one individual. Additionally, it transforms how we look at love and how close we assume we can be with different individuals in our lives. So, I do not develop any specific kind of emotional dependency on any one person, but rather find loving support from different people.”

Jack (Anonymous), Cosmopolitan.

“I’ve had sex with someone else, and my wife thinks that’s fine. I feel happy and free. Because of the consensual nature of the arrangements, there are none of the feelings of guilt I’d associate with cheating. Because it’s not cheating. It’s polyamory.”

User “Viperions,” Refinery 29.

“Jealousy issues are going to be dependent on people. Some people are really, really, really poly and don’t appear to have any jealousy issues. However, most people will have some jealousy issues pop up — thankfully, polyamorous relationships are based around communication (so much communication. Communication until your eyes explode. Seriously, everyone’s like, ‘OH IT’S ALL THREESOMES AND GROUP SEX,’ but I will steal another user’s commentary on it, ‘It’s board games and scheduling’).

Source: ELLE

We’ve now covered the basics of polyamory, and we hope you’ve learned something new today! Remember that being poly is awesome, valid, and totally a-okay. Go out there and explore a world filled with people to love! 

We hope you find the ones that will stick around and support you in this journey.

Robyn Exton

Robyn is the CEO & Founder of HER. Find her on Twitter.

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