What Is A Polyamorous Relationship And Is It Right For You?

Most of us know that monogamy is often defined as two people in an exclusive relationship, often both sexually and emotionally, with only each other, explains WebMD. Most people in the United States choose to participate in monogamous relationships, but a 2017 study published in the Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy suggests that as much as 20% of single U.S. adults have participated in consensual non-monogamy at some point in their lives.

One form of consensual non-monogamy is a polyamorous relationship. This type of relationship can be defined as a person, or people, who are in committed relationships with multiple people at the same time, with the consent of all parties, according to PsychCentral. Polyamorous relationships are not the same as polygamy, which is defined as being married to multiple people at the same time. This type of marriage is illegal in most of the Western world, including all 50 states in America, according to World Population Review.

However, polyamory has seemingly gained interest in the last few years and you may be wondering if opening up a future or current relationship is right for you.

Polyamorous success factors

In some ways, polyamorous relationships may seem a lot like monogamous ones in that they require strong conflict resolution skills and good communication. And every relationship is built on a good foundation, including polyamorous relationships, according to Psychology Today. But what are some key differences between the two?

For starters, polyamorous relationships involve defining your own relationship rules and understanding the boundaries and limits of you and your partner. Asking yourself and your partner some important questions from the get-go could help define relationship terms. Would you prefer opening the relationship to other sexual encounters, but not emotional ones? Depending on your sexuality, would you want to date other men, women, or both? How does your current partner feel about all of this? Asking these questions, and many others, opens the lines of communication that are required for successful polyamory, according to Relish.

Although consensual non-monogamous relationships, like polyamory, are still very much stigmatized, they may provide benefits to those who engage in them. In fact, a 2018 study published in the journal Psychology showed that there was no difference in satisfaction, both relational or sexual, between monogamous and polyamorous relationships. However, the level of satisfaction does depend on how well all parties communicate about boundaries and needs before and during the relationships.

When it may not be right for you

Polyamorous relationships are most successful when people can satisfy and fulfill each of their relationship partners equally, both emotionally and sexually, according to Psychology Today. Additionally, there are certain personality traits that may be better suited for polyamorous relationships, like extroversion, agreeableness, and low levels of jealousy and neuroticism.

If that all sounds far out of your comfort zone, don't be afraid to stick with monogamy, particularly if you become easily jealous, anxious, or need clear and consistent boundaries from a single partner. In that case, polyamory may be a less than ideal option (via Psychology Today).

Lastly, you don't want to start a polyamorous relationship for the wrong reasons. This type of relationship, when practiced in a healthy manner, isn't intended to excuse cheating on your current partner or to get revenge on a cheating partner. Most polyamorous relationships are still built around trust and being faithful, according to Relish. Polyamory is also not the best way to bring the thrill back into the sex lives of a monogamous couple, according to InStyle. It may initially be exciting bringing in new partners, but it won't address the root challenges of your relationship.