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Terms that keep gettin misused when talking about polyamory

By Nailah RobinsonPublished about a year ago 4 min read

I was listening to something the other day about polyamory (I still don’t know why this is still such a hot topic. It’s like it’s a new fashion trend that has been around forever, and people are just now taking notice), but they were asking people were they polyamorous or polygamous, not understanding the terms. The proper question should have been: what is your love style? I know I keep saying I’m tired of talking about it, but the teacher in me can not just let it slide, so here we go.

Polyamory is an umbrella term for a lot of different love styles. Polygamy is one of those love styles. Polygamy deals in marriages and it is also an umbrella term because underneath that umbrella is polyandry which is a woman who marries multiple men and polygyny which is the man who marries multiple women. They all are polygamous, but that does not mean that they are not polyamorous. Though one or two of the partners may still consider themselves monogamous because they only have romantic feelings for the one partner. In other words, just because your partner is polyamorous does not make you polyamorous. In the same way that if you have a bi partner and they are dating someone else, it doesn’t make you gay.

Then you have someone like me, who considers themselves solo polyamorous. I don’t like nesting partners, which is partners living with me (further made crazy by the fact that I am married and he lives with me, but he also knows to give me my space). I prefer to do my own thing while my partners do their own thing, but we also make time to do our things together. I need my own time and space and when a partner continually steps in on that time, that’s when I tend to let them go. I cannot have a partner that wants all of my spare time. It’s not going to work. So they need to have their own thing going too and I’m fine with that, just be honest about it.

There’s closed triads, where partners have stated that it’s only us three. All three love each other. They are all boyfriend and girlfriend. They are a partnership. The difference between them and polygamous couples is that they don’t consider themselves married and polygamous people don’t date their metamours or metas (partner dating your partner who you have no romantic relationship with). As you can probably imagine an open triad means that they are in a relationship together, but they are also free to date whoever they want outside of the triad.

There’s also open relationships. In open relationships there is usually an understanding between partners. They have rules of conduct. They are the only relationship that matters. Any other relationship can come and go. One partner might prefer one night stands. One partner might prefer relationships, but it’s all very separate from the original relationship.

There are relationship anarchist that believe that every relationship is on the same level. This means that even your friendships are romantic relationships when the mood is right. Everybody is loving everybody.

There are hierarchal relationships, where the first relationship is thought of as the most important relationship and any other relationship is secondary to the first one. The other way around is the egalitarian relationship with everyone being equal in the relationship to their partners. Nobody means more or less than anyone else.

There are people who date separately, but if one person is having a problem, they can bring it to the whole group. I think that’s called tabling the group. I don’t really know much about that. I’ve never had that form of polyamory. I feel like my relationships have nothing to do with each other, so there’s no point in having a group meeting, but that’s me.

There’s swingers, which most polyamorous people don’t consider polyamorous, but since they get clumped in with us so much, I thought I would add them. Swingers are primarily focused on sex whereas polyamorous people are focused on building relationships. They do partner swaps and threesomes (not saying polyamorous people don’t) and they use those moments to fulfill their sexual fantasies that their partner is not interested in doing. It has nothing to do with a relationship at all usually.

If I were to go through all of the polyamorous terms, this would have to be a book. There’s so many ways to be polyamorous. The definition that most of us stand by is “the conscious decision to participate in more than one emotional and intimate relationship at a time with the knowledge and consent of all partners involved”. So as long as that is the case with all of your relationships, then you are polyamorous. It doesn’t matter which way you choose to love as long as it makes sense for you and your partner(s).

If you should feel so inclined, please share, heart, and/or tip. Thank you!


About the Creator

Nailah Robinson

Author, Mother, Wife, Sister, Daughter, Cousin, Daughter In Law, Sister In Law, Friend, Grand Daughter, Niece, Teacher, and Student. I am so many things to so many people, but in the end, I'm just Nailah.

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