polyamory relations

Polyamorous Relationship Dictionary Meaning — For More Than Two

«Relationship — the way in which two or more people or things are connected, or the state of being connected.»

Oxford Dictionary

Relationships that include few partners have a wide variety of forms. I will describe some of them, but focus on polyamorous relationship as the youngest type of relationships for "more than two". The emergence of polyamory in the second half of the XX century is quite logical, since there were grounds for it:

  • the development of technologies allows us to meet and communicate easier and faster now than at times when correspondence took months and traveling took years;
  • gender equality and democracy allowed us to choose the style of life, even those of us who are far of world governance;
  • the human capacity to fall in love multiple times and have sexual desire to various people have always existed;
  • the inability of monogamy to ensure and satisfy the broad needs of modern social units.

«Monogamy, which historically used to mean “one partner for a lifetime”, became serial and defines as “one partner at a time”»

Esther Perel


I can bet that the most familiar relationships for "more than two" to you are "open relationship" or "casual relationship". Here’s the usual definition for such relationships — partners who can be in love and have sexual relationships not only with the main partner, but with his/her permission. In such a couple there is no condemnation of love, sex, flirting with third parties, but these third parties are not invited to the couple, and don’t become a part of the basic relationship.

Those who chose an open relationship often like the fact that the partner has relationships with other people; this knowledge enhances sexual desire to the main partner. Such awareness may lead to a polyamorous relationship, becoming a logical development of an open relationship. However, not all polyamorous families have the open type of relationship.

Meet polyamory

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, polyamory is the practice of intimate relationships involving more than two people, with the consent of everyone involved. The term was added to the Oxford Dictionary in 1990, which means that already in the 90's it was a very popular word in the English-speaking world.

Values of polyamorists

Polyamorists share, by and large, such values as trust, honesty, open communication, consent. Family preservation for them is just as important as preservation of openness, sincerity and free feelings expression of each party. The relationship exists until everything is happening with the consent of all the members and everyone knows about the feelings of each other. Such identification can’t be proved "outside" and is determined by the subjective sensations of the participants. There is no adultery in stable open-type polyamorous families, because there is no prerequisite for its emergence.

Based on the definition and values of polyamorous relationship, we can understand how they differ from "open relationship":

  • polyamorous family foundation can be a group of people, not two;
  • in polyamorous relationship the information matters. Not all couples, that have open relationship, want to share the information about new lovers with a partner; in the same time, in polyamorous families the rule "share the information" is fundamental, since without it the consent is impossible;
  • the possibility of group loyalty in polyamorous relationship.

Group loyalty, for real?

There are polyamorists that adhere to multi-loyalty. They recognize the existence of love and sexual relationships within polyamorous family, but agreed to abide by the rules of loyalty to the family. This type of polyamory is called polyfidelity. Some sources refer to these families as "Swedish families". However, this term is purely Russian-speaking and is not found in English.

Ancestor’s choice

Another popular type of relationship for more than two is polygamy (polygyny), which was tried by 80% of pre-industrial societies on earth (Murdock G. P., White D. W. (1969) Standard cross-cultural sample Ethnology 8: 329-369), so this type of family historically was more common than modern monogamy. The restrictions of polygamy were not morals, but the lack of financial and class possibilities (for example, in India polygamy was forbidden the poorest caste — Shudras).

How about the other way around?

Polyandry implies a relationship in which the woman has more than one male partner and all the partners are aware of each other or even live together. Scientists believe, that this type of relationship is formed under the conditions of a lack of resources and favorable for offspring survival.

Polyamorous relationship in media culture

Polyamorists don’t fight with anyone, they are not involved in any political actions or scandals, so the information about them spreads very slowly and rarely goes beyond the circle of polyamorous folks. As with other new ideas, books and movies help to spread the idea of polyamory across the world. The TV series «Polyamory: Married & Dating», 2012 (Showtime channel) has made a significant contribution to the dissemination of information about polyamorists among populace. The opuses like: «Open: Love, Sex and Life in an Open Marriage» by Jenny Block, 2009; «Opening Up» by sex journalist Tristan Taormina, and «Ethical Slut» by Dozy Easton and Janet Hardy, 1997, also served this purpose. The last book, due to its vitality and emotional intensity, has become "the bible of polyamory." It seems that the authors of the book, living among sex-positive people who are tired of getting epithets, invested effort and money into dissemination across the world of their understanding of the term "slut" as "a person of either sex who has the courage to lead a life in according to the radical position that sex is good, beautiful, and nice".

According to this definition, a lot of people are "ethical sluts", they just don’t know what they are called. The authors insist that the meeting with those who your partner has fallen in love with can’t worsen the relationship. Such meetings will help to understand your own partner, and that the rules like: "it's all because he's richer" or "you are in love, because she is 18 years younger" don’t work, and the reason for new loves is in less obvious factors. Only communication can make these factors known.

In classic cinema the relationships closest to polyamory can be found in the movies like: "Bed and Sofa" by Abram Room, "Jules and Jim" by François Truffaut, "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" by G. R. Hill, "Three" by Tom Tykwer, "The Dreamers" by Bernardo Bertolucci. In 2007 the ironic TV series based on the book «Ethic Slut» was released on YouTube, showing how polyamory enters the life of a "normal family".

Does it really exist?

The article in the Newsweek magazine entitled «Polyamory: The Next Sexual Revolution?» contains information that in America in June 2009 lived 500,000 polyamorous families (no longer can say "couples"). Few researches have been made and few scientific articles have bee written about polyamory, but I remember, for example, that the clitoris was explored and described in detail only in 1998; it doesn’t mean that the clitoris didn’t exist before, right?

More about polyamory in articles "Polyamorous Relationship – What You Need to Know Before Starting", "Into The Big World – Debunking Myths About Polyamorous Relationships".