6 Common Misconceptions About Polyamory.

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I used to be one of those people who couldn’t comprehend how it would be possible to be in a non-monogamous relationship.

I’ve always held pretty liberal views on relationships, but I remember making certain assumptions (internally) about what an open relationship might be like.

In the past year or so I have learned a lot about it by spending time in the community. I am by no means an expert on polyamory, nor do I mean to tout it as some sort of lofty ideal that is somehow “better” than monogamy.

My aim is to bring more awareness and invite conversation about the nature of this lifestyle.

I believe that part of the reason it is easy to make certain assumptions about these kinds of relationships is because there are many different relationship structures that fall under the general heading of non-monogamy (or polyamory).

I also have noticed poly-related articles and shows popping up in mainstream media more frequently: it’s certainly a hot topic. Despite the fact that it is becoming more mainstream and acceptable, mainstream media likes to dramatize certain elements and downplay others, potentially giving the rest of the world false impressions of what polyamory is.

So, to clear some things up:

Polyamory (non-monogamy) is not…

About orgies.

I have found that this community tends to be sex- and body-positive and generally very accepting of different lifestyles.

But it’s important to remember that the term polyamorous refers to a relationship structure, and not directly to sexual activities, preferences or identity.

It’s important not to assume that if someone says that they are poly, it does not mean that they are automatically sexually available.   

The same as polygamy.

It’s not a “cult,” type of thing, nor is it related to any form of religion. It also does not always consist of a “poly-family” structure, where a bunch of people live in a house together. (Note: polygyny is when a man has more than one wife and polyandry is when a woman has more than one husband).

A way to prevent divorce or breakups.

A key element of ethical non-monogamy is that it (ideally) eliminates cheating. But this doesn’t mean that going from mono to poly will somehow “save” a given relationship, nor does it mean that crappy things don’t happen in poly relationships.

Polyamorous relationships have the same complications as monogamous relationships: heartbreak, rejection, conflict, uncertainty. At the start of the day, they all require emotional openness and vulnerability to work.

And at the end of the day, no one should stay in any relationship if they are unhappy.

About eliminating jealousy.

Poly people still get jealous! The difference is that there is (often) more impetus to really confront and discuss jealousy in poly situations, so that such feelings are less likely to escalate to a place where it is problematic. In this, it can encourage a practice of self- and other-awareness. It means that whatever feelings are behind the jealousy (insecurity, possessiveness, inferiority) are examined, and that there is a focus on knowing the difference between attachment and love.

About avoiding commitment.

I don’t think this needs an explanation, I just really don’t like it when people equate non-monogamy with less commitment. I don’t see how the two are related at all, since a commitment between two people is a commitment between two people when and how they decide that they want it.

About having less intimacy or less love.  

In the capacity to communicate that one has to have/develop in these kinds of relationships, I have found that there is actually more intimacy—by this I mean real connections which may not have anything at all to do with sex. And many polyamorists would agree that there is actually a capacity for more love, not less.

Put simply: when one spends time with in a community where there is extra incentive to be open, loving, accepting and compassionate—well, this can be contagious!

Polyamory is more about…

Freedom of choice.

The fact that we know we have a choice to be with others—whether or not we do this—can be empowering in itself. It places the focus on authenticity and mindfulness in relationships, meaning that we can design relationships around our own preferences and needs rather than forming them based on other people’s preconceived notions and expectations.

This includes one person’s ability to fully honour their partner’s choices, letting them be free and have space, whether this is to be with another or not.


There are varying types, styles, degrees and structures of polyamory. There are open relationships, “monogomish” relationships and people who refer to themselves as “poly singleish.” Polyamory is a conceptual term that refers to a spectrum of relationship types rather than one concrete structure, and one can choose the structure that works best for them in their lives at a given time (including monogamy).

Learning to love (yourself).

All relationships are about learning and growth. When there is an explicit need to discuss everything out in the open, one’s capacity to love (themselves), practice compassion and engage in ongoing personal growth comes to the forefront pretty quickly.

Presence and authenticity. 

Real love is about authentic choice. It’s about feeling fully empowered in yourself, and in the knowledge that you are free to choose to be with the person next to you at that moment, whether you have other partners at a given time or not.

This is a topic that is always rife for discussion, and I’d love to hear your comments below.





Relephant reads:

Monogamy vs. Polyamory: Different Formulas for Different Folks. 

We Are What We Love: How Polyamory Can Change the World for the Better.

Polyamorous Monogamy. 


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About Renée Picard

Renée Picard is a freelance writer and editor. She prefers real conversation over small talk, red over pink, ocean over mountains. She leads life with a soft-but-fierce heart. For her, writing has always been an instinct, a craft, a heart-thing. For more, check out her personal blog or her Medium page. You can also follow her on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.  


85 Responses to “6 Common Misconceptions About Polyamory.”

  1. Val says:

    Men are more sexually adventurous than women, statistically they have more sexual partners than women do. It's no surprise that more men promote having multiple sexual relationships than women do. It's no surprise that the "jealous" partner is described as having emotional reasons for being jealous. It is no surprise that real effort is put into defining as positive what is, in effect, adultery.

    • Renee says:

      I'm not really sure what you are getting at here, Val. I know that everyone is entitled to their own opinion and lifestyle, though, including that if monogamy is the right choice for you that's great.

    • LivingArtisan says:

      Statistically speaking ; men and women are almost equal across the board when it comes to infidelity and number of partners. Do a little more research rather than believing stereotypes.

    • Brynn says:

      Actually, most of the poly I see in practice is pretty feminist in its execution, with women often initiating discussions about opening up their relationships (or flat out refusing to start one if it's not going to be open/poly), pursing at least as often as they're pursued, and having as many if not more SOs than their male counterparts/companions. In some communities it might be about men fulfilling patriarchy-driven cultural norms, but that's not something I've ever observed.

      • Renee says:

        Yes! Thank you. I've observed a lot of female empowerment as well in this community. As I was referencing how the media misrepresents, I fear that it does place a bias on this sort of 'male fantasy' ideal of living with two wives, or something like that. Perhaps that is for another post, though.

        I really like the way you explained this here – thanks again for engaging in the conversation.

    • PolyFrugivore says:

      Others have already addressed the regurgitated stereotype disinformation, so I'd like to address something else in the comment. Referring to all non-monogamy or all polyamory as adultery is an attempt to apply a single relationship model to an entire spectrum of different ideas and structures of relationships. There are several reasons that this is not, in effect, an accurate description. It's no surprise to those of us who bothered to read the article. Cheers. 🙂

      • Renee says:

        I had a hard time even responding to the adultery comment because I honestly did not know what the point was. But thanks so much for chiming in a mindful fashion! Much appreciated.

    • Sarah says:

      I don't believe that to be true, I believe that to be a result of our cultural beliefs. Although I tend to be naturally a monogamous woman, when I am single, I am sexually adventurous, hungry, alive, wanton, and, if I had the courage, would easily have multiple partners. What holds me back is not desire, it is fear of disease, fear of judgement. And if I am honest, maybe fear of enjoying the freedom. Statistically men have more sexual relationships than women? Who are these men fucking? Truth is, I lie about my numbers of sexual partners. Again, reflects culture. My women friends are desirous, many have had affairs, when their husbands have not. It is my experience that women are more sexually frustrated in relationship than men.
      My personal experience with monogamy and polygamy was stretched over 17 years with my now ex husband. The short of it is, it was not for me. Not because I am not adventurous, it isn't about adventure. Perhaps if I were single now, in my 40's, I could be more so, because I can separate love and sex more than in my youth. My second husband and I both decided to stay monogamous. We have both been poly in previous relationships, not for us. But we communicate. We talk about missing the newness, the excitement of a new lover.
      For the record, adultery, or cheating, implies deceit. My ex and I never lied. We knew when the other was going out. And these 'rules' of right and wrong, are only right or wrong if the players say they are.
      I am not defending poly-life, in fact, it did not work for me. But not for the reasons folks think. I was too young. I confused new, exciting sex for falling in love.
      I think the resurgence of multiple partners is really about our culture being bored. It reflects our self centred-ness, our unwillingness to be in something when it isn't fun. We drop marriages, friends, clothing, everything once it is no longer fashionable, or requires work.

      • the Dude says:

        I agree with your last paragraph and give thanks for you sharing your experience. It is impossible for people trapped in a specific mind-set to understand anything outside their chosen parameters.
        Choice is the key word in both mono and poly lifestyles.
        The problem I think Val is encountering is she has chosen to believe something and she can't see that others choosing a different way is wrong. Val chooses not to tolerate, which is essentially being ok with something you think is wrong, based on a certain moral code … I'm guessing Christianity from the use of the word adultery.
        There are so many ways to live and none have proven to be problem-free. The way I see it is, if the way you live doesn't allow for others to do the same – live – as long as the latter aren't doing any harm (physical, mental, emotional) then just relax.

    • Tanja says:

      I thought this article was about polyAMORy, multiple love relations (with or without sex) NOT about multiple sexual relationships. Or am I missing the point here?

  2. kimberlylowriter says:

    As someone who has written about this subject and short of putting it in blinking lights that I could care less what people do in their private lives, it seems that the topic always attracts comments by some that I've got it all wrong, I am saying it's wrong, etc.

    Polyamory simply means "many lovers". Just like monogamous couples, there are all sorts of people who partake in it and relationships vary greatly.

    When I have written about it, I usually share my personal experiences and I can honestly say based on those, I have yet to see it work. In the majority of cases, one partner wanted to open the relationship and the other reluctantly went along with it. Does that mean this is the case in every situation? Does that mean all these relationships are doomed? No, but again, I am writing about my personal experience.

    Again, I have no problem what any consenting adult chooses to get into, but the biggest frustration I have encountered with fans and advocates of it is their refusal to even acknowledge some of the realities and problems that occur in these situations. Many have no problems pointing out all the problems of monogamy, but heaven forbid anyone discuss the problems with polyamorous situations.

    • Renee says:

      There are problems in both monogamous and non-monogamous relationships, to be sure. I didn't mean to be directing any attention to your own experiences or writing being 'wrong' in any way.

      Polyamory might mean 'many lovers' to you, but to me, it means 'loving many.' So maybe that is where there is a basis for our difference in views.

      I welcome conversation about all things, and this includes listening to and acknowledging that your experiences and views are no more or less valid than mine.

    • saulofhearts says:

      Kimberly, I could just as easily say the same thing about monogamous relationships: "In the majority of cases, one partner wanted to [become exclusive] and the other reluctantly went along with it. Does that mean this is the case in every situation? Does that mean all these relationships are doomed?" Why do you think it's only polyamory in which one partner reluctantly goes along with the other's relationship style?

      In the majority of cases, one partner wanted to open the relationship and the other reluctantly went along with it. Does that mean this is the case in every situation? Does that mean all these relationships are doomed?

      • kimberlylowriter says:

        I have made it clear here and elsewhere that ALL relationships of every stripe have problems-that includes monogamous ones, too.

        Perhaps in every case you know of monogamy, only one person only wanted to be exclusive. However, that has not been my experience.

        "Why do you think it's only polyamory in which one partner reluctantly goes along with the other's relationship style?"

        If you read what I wrote I was talking about my personal experiences with these relationships and the experiences I personally know of. I never said or implied that was the norm nor was it only exclusive to poly people.

        "In the majority of cases, one partner wanted to open the relationship and the other reluctantly went along with it. Does that mean this is the case in every situation?"

        Again, I made it clear I was talking about people I personally knew who tried polyamorous relationships. Please find exactly where I said it was the case in every situation.

        And no, it does not mean it was the case in all those situations or everyone and furthermore, it does not mean all these relationships are doomed.

        It appears to me that the answers to these questions you asked were already in my post. If you are trying to get me to say that I am saying monogamous relationships don't have problems and all poly relationships are doomed, you're barking up the wrong tree.

        I will say that this frustration happens again and again even when I try (neutrally) to discuss this topic. At the risk of repeating myself, short of putting it in sparkly lights that I truly believe that to each their own, I don't know how I can be clearer that I do not care what sort of relationships people chose to enter into.

        However, my experiences with these relationships are what they are. Sorry they didn't end happily ever after. Doesn't mean ALL are doomed. Again, these are my personal experiences.

        • saulofhearts says:

          I get what you're saying, but surely you can understand why poly folk get defensive when, every time an article like this comes along, someone goes to the comment section and says, "I support everyone's relationship choices … but none of the poly friends I know could make it work." It's kind of like saying, "I support gay marriage … but all the gay people I know are only into Grindr hookups." Or, "I admire vegans … but all the vegans I know went back to meat." Even if it's technically true, is it really the best contribution to the conversation? Poly folk already have enough trouble trying to get other people to accept our relationships, we don't need to be reminded of everyone's friends who couldn't make it work. Would you go and comment on an article about gay relationships, or black relationships, or single-parent relationships, and throw in your two cents?

          • kimberlylowriter says:

            I share my opinion about a lot of things.

            If my comments about personal experiences I have had bothers you, then block my comments if that is an option or ignore them. However, for you to suggest I not comment because I don't personally know of poly relationships that have worked is quite shocking.

            FWIW, I will (respectfully) "throw in my two cents" on this and other subjects. In no way do I see how I disrespected anyone on here by sharing my own personal experiences.

            Also, I think it's a straw man argument to bring up those comparisons to gay, black relationships, etc.

            Lastly, considering I have prefaced nearly everything I share by saying, "these are my own personal experiences" and ending with "this in no way means that it it typical" I don't know what more I have to do to point out these are not blanket statements.

            BTW, I find your statements quite interesting given that you wrote: 'Kimberly, I could just as easily say the same thing about monogamous relationships: "In the majority of cases, one partner wanted to [become exclusive] and the other reluctantly went along with it. Does that mean this is the case in every situation? Does that mean all these relationships are doomed?" '

            And yet on another comment on here, you also say: 'So no, I'm not "judging" you for drawing opinions from personal experience, just cautioning you from extrapolating that into broader conclusions.'

            And one last point, as many pointed out, all relationships have their good and bad sides. Why should polyamorous ones be any different and people only post positive comments about them? Why does any relationship deserve preferential treatment like you appear to be suggesting?

        • "At the risk of repeating myself, short of putting it in sparkly lights that I truly believe that to each their own, I don't know how I can be clearer that I do not care what sort of relationships people chose to enter into."

          Then why comment on it at all? Truly curious, not being snide. I was curious about the article because I have seen friends who were poly or had open relationships, some went well, some did not. Renee's perspective adds a lot to the discussion in terms of dispelling stereotypes, whether you decide it's for you or not.

          • kimberlylowriter says:

            The author asked for comments. I have shared my experiences with these relationships. I wrote how I was in one of these relationship. (There's actually a link to it on this page, "Confessions of a Failed Polyamorist.") I have known others that have been in them and shared them as well.

            I have opinions based on what I have experienced and seen. I may chose to share them, but at the end of the day I do feel that to each their own and want to make that clear that because my experience and those of others did not work for me, it doesn't mean I am saying, "Don't do it!", "They are bad", for anyone else. Not caring what consenting adults do because it does not affect my life is not the same as no opinion. I have several opinions about this and many other subjects.

            BTW, that quote of mine was in response to a big challenge I have come across many times when I have written or discussed this topic: "I will say that this frustration happens again and again even when I try (neutrally) to discuss this topic."

            For some reason, some people who are poly cannot accept any criticism of it at all. In this case, I was not referring to the author at all or even addressing her, but another commentator.

            One last thing: I thought it was a well-written piece. I also learned that it seems no matter what I say about this topic, someone is always going to take issue with it or misinterpret something I say about it. Oh well. I'll just stick to less hot button issues like race, religion and politics.

            • Puggles says:

              Hi Kimberly – I just wanted to help you out here. I agree with what you've written. While polyamory has nothing indicating it cannot function perfectly ~IN THEORY~, in actual practice it tends to result in relationships with cripplingly unbalanced power dynamics which result in one or more partners suffering at the expense of others.

              The gay marriage analogy is absolutely a strawman. Humans and other animals are born with some sexual preferences. I don't believe that polyamory is not one of them. Relationship structuring is heavily influenced by the cultures in which they take place.

    • Rev. Allyson says:

      I have been in my poly relationship for 12 years now.. 13 in the spring. Is that successful? 😉 And for what it's worth, our core of three adults (one male and two females, two straight and one bisexual, two working and one staying home, and two of us over 35 and one over 30 when we got together) have all had outside flings with the knowledge of the rest of us. We even attempted afivesome but it wasn't successful. We have 3 kids from previous relationships, all now adults, and twin 8yr olds from our relationship. We all parent and don't advertise or hide our family. We live in a sprawling home with a large garden, workshop, and small home office.

    • Anne says:

      I have been polyamorous for twenty years. My partner(of twenty years)'s other partner has been with him for fourteen years. My other big relationship is over 8 years. Even if we discount our other shorter and less involved relationships, those relationships have outlived the average marriage. Polyamory CAN work.

    • Stanzara says:

      I for one would be happy to tell that yes, I have been reluctantly going along into mono relationships in the past. That was not by any means my partners' fault, but my own: I was yet insecure, afraid that I'd be left alone in the end if I didn't go with it, had no experience of my own from poly relationships, and hoped that to love this one person was enough to make it last. It wasn't, and it didn't. Me being poly was not, though, the reason why these relationships failed. It was always in all the cases something else, like the other person not feeling it anymore, or just not wanting a relationship after all, or because I was severely depressed at the time and was not able to take care of the relationship like I should have done.

  3. This is great, Renee. I know a number of people who are poly, and I was always skeptical. But really…we can love many people platonically, why not romantically, at least for certain seasons during life? I'm still not sure it would be a fit for me, but love your perspective on it.

    • Renee says:


      I was always skeptical too! That's why I opened this how I did.

      Personally I'm treading lightly, and basically still just consider myself 'dating.' But I've had a lot of relationships (including friendship) open because many people in this community are just…open. That does not mean that you have to be 'poly' to be 'open,' but for me it's gone hand in hand, for the most part. And it's really refreshing.

    • LivingArtisan says:

      I'd respond to your comment , it would be odd to without the context ; why did you delete it ?

      • Ah no worries. It was pre-coffee grumpiness and I decided it wasn't worthwhile. 😉 We each bring our own things to these discussions. It did seem like some of your comments ignored what the author had to say (i.e. re: jealousy) and were just about your own experiences. In which case, might be worth writing your own article too?

        • LivingArtisan says:

          Ah, I'm not so skilled at responding sometimes, especially right before bed and having been dealing with stressful things.

          And totally understand the coffee power up !

          I felt that I acknowledge her addressing jealousy, it was this statement that I found lacking in what is necessary for a fully rounded conversation …

          "The difference is in the way it’s dealt with: instead of swept under the rug, it’s usually confronted and discussed. "

          Her judgment is that in monogamous relationship, jealousy is swept under the rug and not discussed or confronted.

          Perhaps this could be better phrased, but in my opinion, it seems elitist and a put down to monogamy.

          • What's interesting to me (and I say this only having experienced monogamous relationships or non-monagamy if I was just dating around) is that we might be able to learn how to better deal with jealousy in monogamous relationships from some of these ideas. Whatever type of relationship we have, if our chief intent is to love our partner and want his or her best, letting go of jealousy is a good practice. I'm sure we could find plenty of monogamous people who are able to practice letting go of jealousy, and plenty of polys who don't.

            Good conversation all around!

          • Renee says:

            True, I could have phrased that part in a different way. I did not mean for it to sound like it's not acknowledged in monogamy. My intention with this article was to not be elitist about polyamory and I tried really hard to make that clear.

          • Stanzara says:

            That may have been poorly worded. What I read into it (see, reader make their own interpretations!) was that jealousy in monogamous relationships is often partially not dealt with. It is not always understood that jealousy is not about the other person – it is a feeling that belongs to the person feeling it. Reason of jealousy is not that your spouse had coffee with that generally attractive person from work. Reason of jealousy is that you feel insecure and threatened about it, maybe you also don't trust your partner. You're scared of losing him/her. Whether this is a reasonable fear, is completely another matter – the point is, you ought to open up about these feelings and why you are feeling insecure, and then communicating about how you should deal with your trust issues.

  4. Shep Berryhill says:

    I must respectfully disagree with Val. Patriarchal society has severely conditioned us all to believe what you say, but it is false and a great disservice to women (indeed to all of us) to shut down their sexualities and make them servants of men’s desires. I have met many very sexually adventurous women; in fact, it is recognized among polyamorists that when women choose polyamory, their emotional strength makes them generally better at it than men. Jealousy isn’t about what the other person does, it is a sign of something, usually insecurity, that needs addressing within the person feeling it. When I have felt jealousy and accepted the challenge of my own personal growth instead of trying to make the other person wrong, it has always resulted in better well being both for myself and the relationship. Adultery is a legal term; cheating is more accurate for this discussion. Cheating is when dishonesty is used to break agreements. Poly folk do cheat, but it is generally something that supposedly monogamous people do. When I and my partner have agreements in place about having other relationships, and are mutually supportive of each other’s freedom and wholistic well being, then when she has another lover no one is cheating. Poly folk have to work at relationship skills, instead of acting within assumption and expectation, and so generally become much better at relationship than monogamous folk do. These are generalizations, of course; there are also plenty of great monogamous and lousy polyamorous relationships.

    • Renee says:

      Yes, thank you. This is a great summary of what I was trying to get at.

    • Sur says:

      I am just starting an open relationship concept and experiencing so much confusion around what I am wanting and how people are reacting to it – it doesn't help that I haven't been able to articulate really my own feelings around it because there is so much conditioning to overcome and discern from my own beliefs and wanting to experience the depth of all the possible connections and the opportunity to grow personally and learn about myself. But it isn't a concept that can easily be grasped by potential partners I feel – so I guess I have to explore perhaps more within the community- didn't even realize there was one 🙂 – is there a polyamory specific dating app!? Can someone get on that please! For now I'm going to share this article and your comment with every guy I meet 🙂 thank you – I'm so glad I found this, and especially your response.

  5. Lisa says:

    I have found it nearly impossible to find one person with whom I can engage in a healthy monogamous relationship, let alone multiple people. I have many relationships with many friends, and none of them involve sex. I live in a very backward, conservative, bible belt area of the country, and that makes it much more challenging to meet people who can relate to my thinking or feeling or lifestyle. I find it fascinating to think that there are people who are not only able to find intimacy, connection and sexual expression with one person, but possibly with many. I can only imagine the challenges and benefits of being involved in polyamory. Kudos for the conversation, though!

    • Renee says:

      Thanks, Lisa, for being open minded and commenting so positively. I, too, spent much of my life wondering how to even find 'one' good partner. Geography (community / culture) has a lot to do with it- even for me it was a matter of living in a different part of the city!

  6. Desire,Dream, & Develop says:

    Hmmmm….so many things I want to say. My aversion to the whole Poly-thing right now is the trendiness. Sort of like the trendiness of buddhism. And the two "appear" hand in hand OVER AND OVER AGAIN. Which in itself implies that polyamorous lifestyles are somehow superior. I don't care who is sleeping with who or how many partners one has at a time. All the articles are the same on this topic though and feel the need to state that it isn't necessarily about sex or intimate sexual relations. I find this BS. If it wasn't about the sexual interactions there would be no labeling at all- we'd all just be talking about close friendships and clearly, we're not. It would be more refreshing as a whole and I think a lot less off-putting if polyamorous adventurers didn't feel the need "sell" why their lifestyle is the new and "better" way. Who's to say who has "more" love? That's a crazy statement to make on either end from anyone- just my two cents. Personally, I've tried both lifestyles and am open to most anything that is authentic and has a basis in love and not fear. Too often there is a general lack of dishonesty all around which is a must for any type of genuine union of the souls- I believe our focus should be there, not on how we choose to navigate the muddy waters of having one or more partners. It speaks of nothing about the partnership we have with ourselves or the collective souls we choose to allow into our circle. I like what you've done here on a whole and I have to say- as someone that reads voraciously and especially when it comes to this topic- I think you've done a hell of a job trying to pay honor to the balance and beauty of all types of relationships. That alone is refreshing. Thank you, for tackling a subject few dare to and doing so with grace and humility. Kudos.

  7. Rita says:

    I don´t define myself as poly…just because I don´t define myself at all…otherwise I should also say I´m bisexual…(just for the record) But I have been having two lovers at the same time for more than 10 years now…I always found very difficult to remain completely faithful in monogamous relationships…not because I can´t control my self or I disrespect my partner…is just because sometimes I didn´t want to and to me preventing yourself to do something you really want to do for the sake of convention is not Ok…I live in a very conservative society but I´m very open about my life style. Honestly for me it is more about knowing that I´m free to choose what is important…I earned that right by not giving a shit about what other think…And most of the time one of my partners is somewhere else…not in the same country…but I keep both relationships nurtured and I do my best to make both happy…although it requires loads of energy it also gives plenty back…it is amazing to be loved by two people! And it is great to effectively see love is the sole thing that does not decrease when shared! But is has its difficult sides two…one of them been equilibrium…like who do you love more…or if there was a case when you should make your mind up…which one would you choose…well…I´m kinda in one of this moments in my life now and it can get tricky…but it is a great experience nevertheless. 🙂

    • Renee says:

      Hi Rita! Thank you for sharing your story with everyone here. I am kind of in the same boat – I don't like to define myself, which is why I make reference to the poly community a lot. What I love is the flexibility and the choice. It is amazing to love and be loved by more than one. And like I keep saying, it is not even about sex but authenticity.

  8. LivingArtisan says:

    I've yet to see a poly relationship work for more than a few years. Or see a child successfully raised in such an environment. I also have yet to see people involved with poly relationships to do anything except tout how wonderful it is, and not explain or communicate the shadow side of it except for talking about 'jealousy' … it's incomplete. I have yet to see a poly person have the courage to stand up and say that they lost their job, marriage, child custody, broken hearts and other aspects of poly.

    The bliss-focused happy-happy approach is one-sided and incomplete, and is biased.

    Statements like this about jealousy don't do anybody any good . "The difference is in the way it’s dealt with: instead of swept under the rug, it’s usually confronted and discussed."

    The assumption is that monogamous people ignore jealousy and don't work with it and that poly people have some kind of awesome way of working with jealousy that nobody else does. Meh. Mature people of any orientation and relationship style have ways to work with jealousy.

    And, any mature relationship is made through freedom of choice , and to assume that poly people make this choice and others don't have it is again … incomplete.

    Any intimate relationship, poly or not, brings up issues of personal growth and learning how to love oneself very quickly … so, nothing special about poly there in my opinion.

    It's been my experience from observation, dialogue, and community living that people who have been traumatized, sexually abused or abandoned, or who have lost hope of finding somebody who really loves them turn to polyamory. I've yet to meet one person who starts out on the relationship journey with dreamy eyes of being poly.

    • LivingArtisan says:

      Actually, I do know of children successfully raised in Poly relationships ; aboriginal children. The aboriginal culture of australia are by action, polyamorous and rather frisky. Yet, it is an accepted part of their society and embraced by everybody and not considered outside the norm or a threat. Aboriginies have, as far as we know, the longest standing stable society in our modern world … at least until the white man came along and created their lost generation by stealing children and destroying their culture.

    • saulofhearts says:

      As I said to another commenter, you're drawing broad conclusions about personal assumptions. On your last point, is it possible that you know more poly folk who have been "traumatized, sexually abused or abandoned" because poly folk have a more open approach to discussing sex? Statistically speaking, sexual abuse affects a large percentage of the population. Could it be possible that a portion of your non-poly friends have also been abused, but feel less comfortable admitting it?

      You say that you have "yet to see a poly relationship work for more than a few years". Frankly, I've yet to see ANY relationship last more than a few years. Most of my friends (all mid 20s college grads) have had a string of short-term relationships lasting no longer than two years — and my generation as a whole is putting off marriage until later in life. In any case, relationships that don't last "forever" (monogamous or not) aren't necessarily failures. People grow and change, and from my experience poly relationships are more likely to accept that, and less likely to end with the whole "I can't believe I wasted two years with that person".

      I would also point out that you may hear less about "successful" poly relationships because not all poly folk feel a need to advocate, speak out, draw attention to themselves, etc. Plenty of people exist in "silent poly" dynamics without necessarily identifying as "polyamorous".

      • LivingArtisan says:

        It may be that I come from an unusual family and have a lot of amazing examples of how marriage can work and people can be loyal and committed. My parents are going on their silver anniversary, my fathers brother is go on 60 years of marriage. My mothers brother, 20 years, and the other one, 10 years. My mothers sister, 15 years.

        My grandparents, no … my grandmothers both left their husbands because in both of their cases the men were abusive, one the point of threatening death and pointing guns at their kids.

        Those are the only two exceptions in my family. Even going further out on the family tree, my cousins, great grandparents, great aunts … all of them were married for life / and are still married if alive.

        The friends I still have from my church days ; married, monogamous, exceptionally happy.

        The people I met living in ashram, not married, not mongamous, and mostly struggling with being happy. The ones that were married, very solid people, and very happy … and still married.

        The people I met living in a hippy community, some are married, some are not, and there are so many extra children running around there. The drama in that place was outrageous.

        The one married couple i know that swings ; refers to sex like tennis. That's pretty sad, imo.

        The parties I've been to full of poly people ; very open in discussing all their problems and … NOPE, not one said that they came from a great family background with all kinds of love. Pretty much every single one came from a broken home, or was abused, or experienced some form of trauma. Their children, growing up in single parent homes. Their finances, suffering.

        So, If you want to judge me for having an opinion based on personal experience, from knowing a great deal of people on all sides of the spectrum … good for you ! Keep it up !

        • Eleanor says:

          Been married 8 years, started poly, still poly. We were wed by a poly couple who have been together 30 years. My parents (not poly) have been together 50 years, still happily married. Who is to say what works for everyone? And why pass judgement?

        • saulofhearts says:

          Again, you'd need a far larger sample to distinguish correlation from causation. Are they happy BECAUSE they are monogamous, or for other reasons? Could it be that your church friends have a more stable spiritual environment than those you met at ashram, which contributes to their happiness in monogamy? Or could it be that your unhappy poly friends are just less stable/happy in general and would have ended up in unstable/unhappy marriages?

          Most the marriages you cite aren't representative of marriage as a whole. Even if I agreed that stable, happy marriages are preferable to polyamory, most "monogamous" relationships don't end up that way. Divorce, adultery, prostitution — these have to be taken into account. Not to mention that the statement you made about a hippie community could apply just as easily to many other neighborhoods/cultures: "Some are married, some are not, and there are so many extra children running around there. The drama in that place was outrageous."

          So no, I'm not "judging" you for drawing opinions from personal experience, just cautioning you from extrapolating that into broader conclusions.

        • CJEH says:

          Married monogomous parents are still together, going on 40+ years. I've been married (twice) and actively poly for 20+ years. My 3 kids (ages 13-23) came out just fine, and the older two have had generally healthy relationships (both poly & not). I know several 'second generation' poly kids in the area, and some with poly parents who decided it wasn't for them.

          Healthy, loving relationships come in all shapes and sizes. So do unhealthy ones. Exposure to one or the other is certainly going to colour how you view relationships, and how you build your own attachments, and how you assess other people's choices.

    • Nix says:

      K but u rong doe.

      Several of my friends' parents are in poly marriages that work out just fine, and the kids are just fine too. Many of my friends are also poly and are not traumatized, sexually abused, or given up on love. Many of them have incredibly loving, fulfilling, committed relationships. I have had many incredibly loving relationships as well, have never been sexually abused or traumatized, and I have total faith and hope in finding more loving relationships in my future. I never want to be monogamous because I feel it is much more limiting and emotionally unhealthy for me.

      If you've found a lot of discussion of how great polyamory is, it is in response to the larger cultural notion that polyamorous people must be unhappy commitment-phobes, and that only the totally sex-crazed and emotionally unstable could do it because real, happy love means one person forever. By talking about polyamory's merits, we are simply trying to cast it in a better light than most of society would like to see. In fact, there is not a single film or TV show I can think of that depicts a healthy polyamorous relationship, or polyamorous people as anything but deviant perverts – can you? Also, if you dig anywhere below the surface of popular commentary on polyamory, you will find an abundance of nuanced examinations of the pros and cons of poly relationships. There are many texts out there that describe these emotionally rigorous ins and outs, the best of which in my opinion is "Opening Up" by Tristan Taormino. We are fully capable and happy to talk about the way that polyamory can be difficult, draining, and certainly not for everyone. If you haven't heard people talking about that it's because you're not looking nearly hard enough.

      • Puggles says:

        The TLC shows about polygamous couples (I'm thinking of "Sister Wives") are spun VERY positively and often comment on how loving the wives are to each other. They don't have sex with each other but that's not what polyamory is about, right? There was also a show about Polyamory: Married and Dating that had very little drama. So there are representations out there.

  9. Colin says:

    You have referred repeatedly to a community in both the article and the comments, I was wondering how it was that you came across them, and what it was like to become a part of that group.

    • Renee says:

      I just sort of fell into it via friends and then getting to know their friends, etc. (many of them 'Burners' as in people who go to Burning man and related events). I refer to the community loosely in part because I don't completely identify as poly myself. I'm a bit hesitant to label myself. Much of my experience has been based on conversations with friends, etc.

      If one were interested in finding out more, there are Facebook groups and online resources to go to.

      Thanks for reading and commenting!

  10. Malina says:

    Interesting perspective. Although I’m not at all interested in a poly type of relationship, it is nice to learn about others’ way of life. Let’s respect that!

    One thing I did not really like is the assumption that in a monogamous relationship jealous feelings are swept under the rug. Or that feelings are somehow not expressed in an open and honest way in a monogamous relationship.

    As mentioned that there are different types of poly relationships, and they can’t all be put into one lump, the same can be said for monogamous relationships.

    Can we try to not generalize on both ends? I’ll try if you try? 🙂

    • Renee says:

      Hi Malina! Thanks for pointing that out and for commenting mindfully.

      I agree that I could have worded that jealousy part in a better way. I know that in all healthy relationships, jealousy should be / can be acknowledged directly. Personally I've found that such conversations are more likely to be out in the open with poly people, but I know that I can't generalize or assume that it is like that for everyone!

      What I was referring to about poly vs. monogamous was just the structure itself. So, mono= 2, and poly = more than 2. I see what you are saying, though. It's a tricky thing to express clearly without seeming like I'm generalizing!

  11. Retroflexed says:

    Thank you Renee
    The "loving many" concept has so much value. The more relationships we enjoy, the more we enrich our own personalities, and in turn those of all our allies. For "seniors", this philosophy seems most practical. The child rearing years are past, we enjoy more time to socialize, generally the sexual complications attenuate, and we benefit from the larger support group. Still, it's a struggle getting people past those traditional partnership expectations.

  12. Salima says:

    I find this conversation most intriguing. Love does not need to be so complicated. There is more then enough to go around. I think this has become a big topic recently because humanity is evolving, not because it is "trendy". It is not about what relationship works the best, most ethical, or moral. To me it is about our hearts opening to include all. Love does not want to be exclusive. As our hearts open we naturally feel drawn to love many and hopefully eventually everyone! Whether we feel that love in one, two three or all chakras is not the point. If there is sexual energy there then it makes it more interesting and a bit more complicated, but it is all energy which is love .If used with the best intention, mindfully great healing can happen. I believe it is for all our benefit to keep having these conversations as we find our way to a whole new way of being and relating to one another. If we keep working on ourselves, opening our hearts, and being mindful of others we will all wake up to our true divine and blissful nature. I pray all beings may know joy and love with every cell of their being for the benefit of all, may it be so:)

  13. Patti says:

    Thank you for this wonderful article. It was well written and calls out the misconceptions well. I am poly. I am very happily married to my husband of 7 years. We’ve know each other for 25, though & met in high school. He was the first to figure out that what he’s been all these years is poly. He’s had 2 relationships with other women since we’ve been married. One was cross-country and did not last. The other, however, has been going on for over 2 years now. I have since fallen in love with the woman my husband is dating. She’s amazing. And despite what many think, poly has only made my relationship with my husband stronger. We communicate any issues. We still have sex multiple times a week with each other. We are very much in love. And we are very much in love with her.

    We have 2 teenage girls and she, with her husband that she still loves & lives with, has 2 younger kids. The kids love getting together. We don’t hide that we’re in love. They see us kiss. The kids have each “adopted” the other set of parents and love them. They get praise, love & even discipline from them. One family.

    We don’t live together though. We get together at least one day of the week as a family and have other “dates” alone on other days/nights.

    I’d say that we’re a successful poly relationship. Loving. Honorable. Communicative. Trusting. I know that I’ve never been happier.

    • Renee says:

      That's wonderful to hear! Thank you for sharing your story here and for reading. All the best to you and your loved ones.

    • David says:

      I’m Patti’s husband and I’m always so grateful to see a post like this from her to see that she’s just as happy and satisfied with our life as I am.

      I want to add a few things.

      First, an assumption is usually made that the foray into the poly lifestyle is initiated by the male. In our “pod” of poly friends which stretches over two states, a majority of them opened their marriage at the request of the woman.

      My wife admitted to me early into our marriage that she came to the conclusion that she was bisexual… Opening my mind to the possibility of other lifestyles and eventually led to me discovering my true nature… What I’ve been fighting my whole life… That I’m poly.

      Second, I believe that being poly has deepened our commitment to one another… To establishing and maintaining a high level of communication and trust. Between all of us, in fact. I’ve never felt this stable in any relationship.

      There are no flaws in our marriage. Nothing missing. Just more love to give than we can share with just one person.

      And to the above comment about all poly relationships come from broken households… All three of us have parents who are still married and have strong marriages. We’re not damaged. We’re just different.

      • Renee says:

        Hi David! Thanks for weighing in. There are (as expected) people that will always comment without reading between the lines or without even trying to think differently. But I think that I (we) have at least changed a few people's minds, or at least encouraged them to stay open. That's why I thought it was important to have this article, and why it's even more important to continue the conversation. Let's keep it up!

  14. psycheactive says:

    A girl asked me to try this with her, for her. My heart nor my mind where not 100% in it, but I really loved her company and the time we shared. It worked for about a month, and then I did not want to advance it any longer. So, I just had to learn to enjoy my own company better because I know that's what I truly wanted. I know she thought her polyamorous nature was definitely superior to mine, but whatever, that's why I hardly talk to her anymore.

    It's not a feeling of jealousy that pushes me away from the idea of polyamory. It's just this natural inner feeling that I would much rather enjoy the company of one person, vice versa.

    If polyamory works for others, fine…but honestly when I was with her, all I could think about was what this 'polyamorous' relationship would mean to me in 20-30 or 40 years when I'm 60 years old. I could see it for younger experimenters out there, and don't mean to undermine the older poly couples, because of if you're happy, and it works, that's great. But in the end, I really just want one person.

    • Renee says:

      Thank you for sharing your opinion so honestly without judgement of the nature of this article. It's important to know what works for you,and it sounds like you do, which is so important. I know that there are other poly partners out there where one person was essentially doing it 'for' the other one but maybe it wasn't what they wanted. It's so important to know what we want, but it does take some trial and error, so good for you for just seeing it clearly.

  15. Mars Drum says:

    Well put. Thank-you! It's great to have a new acceptable scientific label for what used to be called "sluttin around" , at least as far as females were labelled.

  16. Stanzara says:

    I would like to add one thing to the discussion. That is, the poly people I know (including myself) are into this love style because they feel that it would be unnecessary to demand one partner to be everything they ever want in a relationship. So it is just not "because I like it so", but also "because I want to be fair and not make unreasonable demands". I'm not saying that all mono people are placing ultimatums on their chosen life partners to be everything they want or could want in a relationship – I'm sure that many just don't feel like they want anything more. I'm just saying that a big part of the poly people respect and cherish their partners for adding to their lives by what they are, and don't expect anyone to be something that they are not capable of being.

    • Renee says:

      I completely agree! There are so many aspects to this discussion and my article is very generalized. But this is a big thing for me in my previous monogamous relationships – I had placed so much pressure on myself to be 'everything' to the person, and probably by default had placed it on the other person too. This is not because I actually want that, it was just sort of a subconscious part of the pressure of what it means to be monogamous. Now I feel that that element is no longer something that I worry about and it's such a relief.

  17. Anonymous says:

    My own experience with the poly lifestyle ended badly, but I have hope that others can be successful in it, because I believe poly can be a beautiful thing. However, to someone thinking that opening their marriage might solve problems, let me assure you, it will only shine a glaring spotlight on any problems that exist already. Poly increases love, for sure. But it also increases stress, increases demands on time and increases the need for compromise. Relationships are often life-changing, all-consuming forces that take the driving seat in our lives. Now, multiply that effect two, three, or more times and you get the idea. Poly filled my heart with more love than I knew was possible, and also caused me a whole lot of pain. I suppose that is true everytime we open our hearts to another, poly or otherwise.

    • Renee says:

      I agree to everything you said here!

      Even though it ended badly for you, I appreciate you weighing in on a positive note. It's so important for 'both sides' (monogamous vs. poly) to just offer acceptance of the other. It seems like a controversial topic at first because we are so socialized towards monogamy, but when push comes to shove it's just about love, acceptance, figuring our stuff out. It really doesn't matter which category one falls in. Thank you for your comment!

  18. Elaine says:

    What I think about regarding the results of this topic is not whether it is good for you now, but how this poly lifestyle impacts generations to come? Surely children raised in a household where parents happily and openly cheat, are raised to believe it is the right or correct way, teaching them that sex is only about fun and not about sacred continuance of a committed relationship… I believe that the more people believe this way, the more doomed our society really is. My mom and dad have been committed monogamous for over 40 years, and it is a beautiful thing, definitely not inferior. The realtionship is not based on sex and love, but on the sacredness of life, marriage, sharing, humility, friendship, and forgiveness. The concept may be ancient , but it is not outdated. My own husband lost respect for his ex when she started sleeping around. Yes, he partook, but the relationship dynamic was forever changed. Now him and I are so in love and I promise I will always come home to him, and him to me. He is special enough to me and I to him that we chose to get married and grow old together, which in itself is an adventure. I love life.

    • Renee says:

      First, I tried to acknowledge in this article that I don't believe that monogamy is inferior. Second, part of the point of this article was to present the possibility that everything sacred and good that you believe exists in monogamous relationships (sharing, humility, friendship, forgiveness) also can (and do) exist in polyamorous relationships.

      Polyamory is not about 'sleeping around' or 'cheating'. It's not even about sex, which is the first point on my list.

      And as for how it impacts generations to come? I guess we'll have to wait and see, but knowing the few kids that I do that have poly parents, I'm not too worried about that.

    • David says:


      There are a couple things that I would like to counter-point here.

      First, we are not cheating. Everyone in this relationship is aware of and consenting and supportive of one another. Nothing is going on behind anyone’s back.

      This is *not* about sex. It’s about nurturing a relationship with those you love.

      Our children all see massive amounts of love on a daily basis. My kids see my wife and I in a happy marriage with lots of love, affection given openly (hugs, kisses, cuddling), and good humor. They also see the love between us and our girlfriend. They see the acceptance of and interaction of all of us. What are we teaching them? To be true to yourself and love with all of your heart. We frequently talk to them about relationships and how they should be what they want to be. Yes, we have discussed poly, but we also have told them for most people monogamy is their preference. We don’t teach them that poly is better or the only way.

      We are a triad… And consider ourselves in the “poly-fidelity” classification of poly. We are all committed to one another and have a desire to all grow old together. We wear commitment rings. This *is* a commitment. Our kids are seeing multiple *committed* relationships. They do not see us *sleeping around*. Instead, they see more love than most children ever see.

      How many people do you know who are in a marriage just for the kids? How many people do you know who are miserably married? I have met many in my lifetime in the various places I’ve worked in Pennsylvania and Florida. What are the children of those types of marriage being taught by example? That marriage is something to endure and that finding the right partner is impossible. Poly doesn’t solve this. I’m not saying it’s a better way. Your marriage must be *very* solid to open it up or it will fall apart. What I am saying is that whatever your relationship type it’s important to teach your kids that love is important and key to happiness. Don’t settle.

      I’m happy that your parents have made it 40 years together. That’s a beautiful milestone. I hope that you’re wrong about the relationship not being based on love, though, otherwise they’ve just been staying together out of obligation. How happy can a marriage be without love?

      I’m happy for you that you’ve found someone to spend your life with and that makes you happy and content. My marriage is also happy and content. We just *also* love another woman.

      We have all committed to one another for a lifetime of love. This is not a fling, some experiment or trendy thing to do.

      Our kids see nothing but love and commitment.

    • David says:

      Also wanted to add… Obviously, because we have teens… We are not a young couple. We’re in our 40s.

    • Vonn says:

      Cheating is what happens when one partner lies to the other about their sexual activity. In my experience it's the lie rather than the sex which destroys trust and the relationship.
      I raised my kids in a poly setting and they are now well-adjusted, kind young men who constantly amaze me with their emotional intelligence with extraordinary communication skills. Why not? They grew up watching adults who were committed to living honestly and openly.
      I love life and adventure too. My model of it differs from yours, but I don't need to push relationship orientation onto you.

  19. Also Renee says:

    So… I’ll weigh in then. I’m the “girlfriend” of David and Patti. As they have mentioned, we have been together for two and a half years and have made a lifetime commitment to each other.

    I have been *happily* married to my husband of 15 years. He and I have both been raised in monogamous homes with very Christian-based morals. Both sets of our parents have celebrated 40+ years of marriage. We both value love and commitment over sex. And the hardest part in all of this has been the internal struggle in learning to be true to ourselves and our feelings vs. the concepts/definitions of fidelity, monogamy, and adultery we have been raised with.

    We lived monogamously for the first 10+ years of our relationship and are highly committed to one another and our children. We are frequently told how cute we are and how people admire our marriage. They see how in love we are and how much fun we allow ourselves to have with one another. I have no problem with monogamy, and I will, in fact, never have sex without a lifelong commitment. It is far too sacred to me to betray myself or my partners in that way.

    I *also* have struggled most of my life to deal with the natural physical expressions of my feelings, that I grew up learning were “wrong.” Getting to a place of polyamory was inevitable for me, given my understanding of love being infinite, but it was not without struggles. Only after a lot of really hard conversations, an unbearable amount of uncertainty, numerous therapy sessions, and more sleepless nights for my husband and me than I care to admit, were we able to come to a place of acceptance and love for who we are.

    And we are stronger now in our marriage than we have ever been. I am more settled, content, and confident with myself than I have ever been in my life, my husband has the freedom to explore his introverted self while still having people he cares deeply for, and my children (elementary school age) have a huge family of people who love and adore them.

    As I type this, I’m watching my poly-family playing a game all together, and realizing that no matter what the struggles of time and logistics we have, I am the luckiest girl in the world.

  20. molly says:

    it's like trying to explain boobs to a gay guy.

    Some od us will never be happy in monogamy. Some of us will never be happy in polyamory.

    I am poly and bi, and tired of explaining, justifying, something I always knew was just me.

    The fact that poly is in the news a lot now is helpful in a way that people who are naturally poly can see that they are not alone in having these feelings, and do not need to feel guilty about it. It's just a question of finding like minded partners. Trying to explain oneself to naturally monogamous people is a waste of time, they will understand once they encounter poly working (more openly than it is now). No need for them to adopt it, just respect it.

    Somehow no one is shocked by serial monogamy. People divorce/break up, find another human, repeat.
    I am into having long term committed relationship with more than one person. Is it complicated? Do things go wrong? Do things go wrong with monogamy? Serial monogamy? Relationship in general?

    Because poly people were previously so invisible, and not aware of other options, too many of them married monogamous partners, unaware there were other people like them. Of course that leads to problems.

  21. jdemanda says:

    Based on the photo, I expected the #1 misconception about polyamory to be addressed and dispelled would be that all polyamorists are thin, young, white, middle class, and pretty dang normative in appearance. Not only was it not #1, but neither was it numbers #2-6. Just for the record, lots of poly folks including myself are none of those things.

  22. Ricky-Bobby says:

    For all those interested in learning more, I HIGHLY suggest the book "The Ethical Slut" by Dossie Easton and Janet W. Hardy

    This book literally changed my life.

  23. Vonn says:

    I wanted to comment on this article but the whiteness of the image and the flaming heterosexuality has burned my retinas…

    Seriously, for those who claim they've never seen polyamory work, consider the depths of the closet that most poly people are in. I suggest you stop looking primarily at straight, white, beautiful couples who try bringing in a 'third' to spice things up.

    From a fat, old dyke who has been happily, successfully, and ethically poly since 1997.

  24. PolyCouple says:

    My partner and I have been married for 5 years and poly for life. While we have been polyamorous together things have been a bit difficult, running into issues here and there. After we changed our 'rules' to be simply just open communication and honesty things got a lot easier. Thanks for your posting, we love reading about other people in similar relationships and how to navigate the emotions behind everything.

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