What is polyamory?

Some people just aren't into having one partner at a time. If you're looking to share your romantic and sexual experiences with multiple lucky people, have a read of our guide to polyamorous relationships.

three people stand with their back to the camera and arms around each other. They are standing outside in a field.

Being in a polyamorous relationship can feel like one big happy family ... sometimes.

We’re all sexually liberated now, right? We’ve burned our underwear and are ready to get out there and have fun. But while sexy times with no strings attached is the bees knees for some people, an ever increasing number of young people are combining multiple fun times with multiple actual relationships. 

How does polyamory work? 

Polyamory (or just poly to those in the know) involves having more than one romantic relationship at a time. You may be sat in front of your screen right now thinking, ‘Hey, this is basically just an open relationship. What’s new about poly?’, but hold up, I’m getting there.  

In polyamorous relationships there is no hierarchy or main partner. Instead of having your partner and your fling on the side like in an open relationship, there are no favourites in polyamory so everyone loves each other equally.  

What are the benefits of being poly? 

  • The ability to have more creative sexual experiences with other partners 
  • If you don’t think monogamy is realistic then it’s perfect for you 
  • Widening your social circles with your new partners, aka your poly family 
  • Polyamory relies on honesty to work so if you don’t like lying then it could be for you

What are the downsides of being poly? 

  • While it may seem like you’ve hit jackpot at first, it can be stressful to have multiple love lives to manage 
  • Arguments and tension can arise if your partners don’t feel their needs are being met or that another partner is being favourited 
  • It can be time consuming and restrictive to manage your love life 
  • Get ready for the tears. It can be emotionally draining to be vulnerable with so many people 

Can you cheat if you’re in a polyamorous relationship? 

Well, nothing but yourself is ever stopping you from cheating but poly relationships revolve around honesty. If you’re lying about who you’re seeing then it’s not an open and honest polyamorous relationship. If you want to try poly because you want to cheat then it’s definitely not for you. 

Won’t it get complicated? 

Maybe but also maybe not. It’s impossible to predict how every relationship will pan out. Being involved with more than one person at a time can be tricky but many people find a way, and manage to have successful and healthy relationships. 

Will I get jealous? 

It all depends on who you are as a person and how you normally react to things. Some people believe that there will always be a slight tinge of jealousy in every relationship. Others think that you can love multiple people without feeling jealous. Whichever way you fall on the jealousy spectrum your partners may feel completely different so make sure you’re communicating at all times. 

How do I find other people to join my poly family? 

The perfect person could be around the corner. You’ve just got to look for them. If you’re already in a monogamous relationship and want to open it up, speak to your partner to see if they’re game too. If you’re single then get out there and find new partners who are looking for something different. Use dating sites so you can filter for people looking for poly relationships. 

My partner doesn’t want to be poly but I do 

Some people’s attitudes to polyamory may change over time but if your partner definitely doesn’t want to share you with anyone else, there’s not much you can do. Even if they change their mind to make you happy you don’t want them to sacrifice their happiness for you. Polyamory takes a lot of dedication and if you’re not on the same page then it may be difficult to work through. 

Next Steps

  • Brook provides free sexual health and wellbeing services for young people in the UK. Brook's services include local clinics and online digital sex and relationships tool.
  • Relate is an affordable relationship and sex counselling service. 0300 100 1234
  • Do you want to understand your relationship better? Love Smart helps you work it all out.
  • Chat about this subject on our Discussion Boards.
  • Need help but confused where to go locally? Download our StepFinder iPhone app to find local support services quickly.

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Updated on 28-Jul-2017