Open Relationship Glossary
The terms “polyamory” and “open relationships” often get conflated with one another. However, they are different. Polyamory refers to a non-monogamous relationship whereby one can have multiple committed romantic partners. In a sense, it is to fall in love with multiple people and to follow through on such love with multiple intimate relationships. This is, of course, when such extra partners are agreed upon and given consent by all parties involved.
Open relationships refer to non-monogamous relationships whereby one can have multiple sexual partners. Typically, an open relationship springs out of a monogamous relationship where both parties have sexual desires outside of their primary partner. When it is agreed upon by both partners that they can have other sexual partners, that is an open relationship.
A threesome is any sexual activity that involves three people. The definition of a threesome is not limited by sexual orientation, gender, or biological sex. Any act with any combination of any such demographics, as long as it involves three people, is considered a threesome. So, if you have sex (manual, oral, vaginal, anal, etc.) with three people, that is a threesome, no matter what demographic such people belong to.
Polyfidelity is a form of non-monogamy whereby romantic commitment and sexual activity is restricted within a certain group of people. Likewise, within this group, individuals are sexually active and romantically committed to one another. Let us say we have a group of ten people. These ten people are romantically committed and/or sexually active with one another. However, they cannot be romantically committed or sexually active with anyone outside of that group, unless the group agrees to let someone new into the group. Hence, it is a polyamorous relationship in the sense that multiple partners are involved, but a closed relationship in the sense that the number of partners is limited –it would be infidelity to be romantically involved outside of the group.
Swinging is the practice of swapping partners with someone for the sake of sexual activity. For instance, you might be in a monogamous relationship and have friends who are a couple who is also in a monogamous relationship. You might agree with this couple to swap partners every now and then for the sake of sexual variety. That is swinging. Generally speaking, swinging does not entail emotional commitments to non-primary partners.
A triad is when three people are in a relationship with one another, and romantic commitment is shared between all three partners. Many triads actually spring forth from monogamous relationships, whereby a couple finds a third person that they are both interested in joining the relationship. This is different from a relationship where there are two partners, and one of them is involved with another person. Rather, a triad is when three people are actively involved with one another and are committed to one another.
A quad is when four people are in a relationship with one another, and romantic commitment is shared between all four partners. This is different from a relationship where there are two partners, and one of them is involved with other people. Rather, a quad is when four people are actively involved with one another and committed to one another.
Non-monogamy is any sort of relationship that involves more than two people. This is a relationship where infidelity is not a factor. Rather, the existence of mort than one partner is something that is consensual and agreed upon by all involved. Polyamory, open relationships, swinging, polyfidelity, triads, and quads are all forms of non-monogamy.
Monogamy is a relationship whereby you only have one partner. Which is to say, if in a monogamous relationship you seek partners outside of that relationship, that would be considered infidelity.