The Skinny on Polyamory & Open Relationships [Repost]

This article was originally posted on linkedin by AngelaRenee Washington. Please visit her original posting and share your thoughts there as well. All credit to the author.


What is an Open relationship – Polyamorous & Ethical Non-monogamy?

Lets start at the beginning and do a brief run-down. I will provide you the skinny on Polyamory and Open Relationships and how Polyamorous dynamics maintain ethical practice in the relationship/s.

This is not a comprehensive guide, but it will get you started and make you knowledgeable enough to deal with the subject matter without relying on misinformation. For those who are Polyamorous, yes I know this is a skinny version. I understand how complicated and intricate loving more than one can be.

Please relax, the article is targeting the novice, the curious, the vanilla, and those who simply are interested in the basics of how it works or need a quick refresher. At the end of it all monogamous people may learn that Polyamorous people have many commonalities than they imagined.

Open Relations: When a couple married, partnership or union decide to live and love in a non-conventional relationship. They choose freedom to select external romantic or sexual relations outside their primary relationship. It can be strictly sexual, emotional or per their agreement and preferences. They may or may not consider or identify their relationship Polyamorous; yet, most do. The most common forms of Open Relationships today are:

Swinging: Individuals who “swing” are those who are in complete disclosure of their external relationships and desires. Often simply called Swingers or Alternative Lifestyle {AL}. They maintain temporary, situational, or permanent external intimate, sensual, and sexual relations outside of their union. These relationships may be entertained with one another as a couple or without one another; however, the main component is they are both aware, agree to certain criteria, and usually do not commit to a deeper romantic or spiritual involvement with the external partner/.s. All parties are fully aware, consent and engage.

Variants: Full swap, which denotes both partners swap partners and engage sexually. An alternative to full swap is soft swap. Soft swap means there is only touching, massaging erotic play or female/female interaction permitted. It usually remains completely sexually driven. It can be one time, or on-going sexual outlet. When a couple is only interested in a female companion, the female is referred to as a “unicorn” meaning she is a mystical creature and rare to find. In actuality is isn’t as rare as it would seem. Unicorns are beginning to more so reflect women who are the commodity of swinging couples.

There is complete community of swingers in USA and internationally and many websites dedicated to the lifestyle of swinging.

Polyamorous [Poly]: The term is a part Greek and Latin. ‘Poly’ is Greek for many or several. ‘Amor’ is Latin for love. Most Polyamorous individuals believe in infinite love, or the spiritual ability to love without restrictive dimensions. They generally desire more than one partner for relations. Also, Poly people incorporate others into their primary relationship and often maintain separate relations for each partner. Sometimes these relations may become more communal; yet oftentimes, it is not the nature or desire.

The main component of Polyamorous individuals are they are in complete disclosure of their intentions of external relationships and carnal desires. There is supposed to be no cheating or clandestine affairs.Most agree to the dynamics and intricacy of the relationships and set clear boundaries and limitations.

There are certain religious affiliations that practice Polyamory, and polygamous marriages. A few well known for Polyamorous and Polygamists relations are Mormons, Quakers, and certain sects of Muslims. As well, there are sub-cultures who have no religious standing, and prefer the open mindedness of Polyamory v.s monogamy in their interpersonal relationship/s.

Overall, Poly relationships internally can also be considered monogamous; but lets not go there in this article. Now that gets complicated. Simply understand, Polyamorous couples married or partners, or lovers, prefer to leave the option open to love outside their primary union. Infinitely. Polyamorous people can have longer term relationships or flings just as monogamous relationships and certainly deal with some of the same relational issues; if not more.

Being Poly does not negate responsibility nor accountability of ones actions in the relationship. Poly doesn’t give anyone a free pass to cheat, or whore about. On the contrary, it sets guidelines on how to respectfully and considerably deal in more than one romantic relationship simultaneously. It isn’t for everyone.

The most common Polyamorous constructs are:

Triads: (3) Partners who are all involved with one another in a romantic/sexual relationship/s. There are levels of intimacy determined by all as to arrange a harmonious affair. This can sometimes have bisexual tendencies but not always. The reason for triad may differ in each relationship, but the element of triad simply refers to 3 people intertwined as a whole or sum of parts, so to speak.

Vee: (1) Partner of a couple is involved with another individual. The two share the one partner but do not participate in relations with each other. This can be structured as desired. This is usually done when one partner is open to Polyamorous relationships but doesn’t necessarily need to partake in one. In most Vee relationships the external partner is permitted another relationship outside of the Polyamorous relationship.

Other Constructs: As we discussed, religious affiliated Polyamorous, and there are Quads, Tribes, Poly-Groups, BDSM dynamics, and Communes or Harems. Some consider their Poly identity as Poly-families. And all will work together as a family unit indiscriminate of relationships within the family. Not all Polyamorous families or groups or relationships interact intimately or sexually with all in the pre-set group. Most times there are specific arrangements to who is with who and for what designated purpose. Bigger the group the more complex the relationships.

One of the myths of Polyamory — Poly people are all one big sex-fest group, greedy sexually, uncontrolled desires, lustful, and everyone sits around sexing one another all day. In actuality is is more a unit of people who decide to have multiple love relationships. Together they assist one another in living their life to the fullest, and contribute to each others lives on a daily basis. Each person needs to fully understand others needs and boundaries. Polyamorous relationships have a responsibility to maintain cohesiveness and respect for all parties. There are times, when someone may opt out, or other times, when someone decides to leave and be monogamous with one person. It all affects the unit and must be handled considerably for all to remain amiable.

Now lets discuss how this all plays out with type of respect and ethical operation.

Ethical Non-monogamy:

The ethics in being in an open or Polyamorous or Swinging relationship or lifestyle is that each individual has the right to communicate their desires, emotional needs, and be sexually expressive. No one is supposed to lie, cheat or have secret affairs. The primary relationship/s determines a balance and sets the limitations of how to function with respect to one another wishes. In order for it to remain ethical all parties within the Poly-group or family must be at full disclosure with all parties. When there is a break in the disclosure this is considered non-ethical.

It is mandatory for all parties to accept responsibility to the arrangement and to adhere to the expectations of the Poly existence. Of course, as with any other relationship there will be relational issues, and emotional situations that may get out of hand — the bottom line is, for Poly to work all must sign off on how the relationships will operate for all parties best interest. To endorse an open or Polyamorous relationship ethical standing the ideal of Poly-fidelity was created.

Poly-fidelity: A quasi-monogamy within the parameters of the open or Poly relationship/s. The individuals in the primary and secondary relationship vows to only have relations with those who have been sanctioned – it is almost like monogamy but with several people consented to keep the Poly-family as a unit. Per the arrangement of the parties’ involved sometimes pre-determined romantic or sexual relations are developed. Poly-fidelity is usually taken very seriously and it is considered a breach of contract and agreement to step outside of the agreement. It is upheld with strict confidence and generally best effective when all parties agree to be at full disclosure and communicate honestly.

A bit tawdry isnt it all. And just to think this is the skinny of Polyamorous and Open Relationships. The article is intended to give you a snap-shot view of Polyamorous and Open relationships. It is my purpose to give enough background that you understand the concept and can make a decision on if Polyamorous, or if Open-Relationship is something to engage in with your partner.It is to help you understand, relate and possibly deal with the constructs of Polyamorous lifestyle or conversing with someone who is.

It is brief awareness for the curious, vanilla, or perhaps just a fancy to learn about how Poly people do what they do. I hope you take away a sex-positive awareness and open mind and at the very least, have a decent accurate knowledge on the community and lifestyle of Polyamory.

#sexysexpert #gotosexpert #couplecounseling #livinglovinginitiativesystems #askangge #sexuality #sexeducation #lifestyles #polyamorous #poly #alternativelifestyles #swingers #swinging #relationships #dating #monogamy


AngelaRenee Washington

Sex-Expert |Sexuality Educator|Sexuality Relationship Counselor ♡ Sex-Trafficking Activist | Leadership | Change Agent

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