What is Polyamory?

You might have heard the term before and either been curious enough to look it up, or you’re not sure what it is. For those of you that know what it is, this will be a quick refresher. Either way, you will pick up a few things along the way as we go through what polyamory is.

Usually, you would see a relationship as two people together in a monogamous relationship–at least that’s how society would like you to see as normal. Having over one partner is more common than you think these days, with sites like OkCupid seeing 40% of its user base being polyamorous after opening up the app to find partners that way.

However, consensual non-monogamy is where you have over one partner in a consensual relationship with having a few terms in mind. Primary partners, secondary partners, triads, quads, full quads, and solo polyamorous relationships. Those are many terms that are being thrown at you, so here are a few of the important ones.


A primary partner is the one you have the most in the relationship with despite having other people with you; this means that you might have a partner you live with or have kids with. A secondary partner may be a person outside that primary with a more casual relationship, and your lives aren’t as involved with things like kids, finances, living situations, etc.

Triads are a relationship between three people, either a couple dating another person, or three people dating one another. A quad and a full quad are four people dating each other, with the quad being usually two polyamorous couples involved together, and with a full quad being that every partner is involved with each other. A polycule is an entire web of people connected that might be involved in relationships. Just think of using lines to join a full quad together and even more people, and you’ve got a polycule.

With these basic terms, you’ll understand better when people are talking about their relationships and how they’ve formed or their involvement if they open that up to you.

Many people seem to think being polyamorous opens up the door for cheating, which isn’t the case at all, as almost all polyamorous relationships are consensual between all partners. The difference between infidelity and polyamorous relationships is that those that are within a polyamorous relationship are in one because they have an agreement on what their boundaries are about sex and relationships with other people.

That doesn’t, however, mean that if you’re in a polyamorous relationship that you’re not into committing to someone. Some polyamorous relationships go on for years as a lot of love, trust, and time is put into these relationships to make sure that everyone is not only on the same page with the relationship but that everyone’s needs are met.

The values that those that are in polyamorous relationships have are critical to a successful relationship and follow the following core values.


Trusting in your partners is key to being able to have a good relationship overall. Ensuring that this is an integral part of the relationship is probably the most crucial part of making sure that it stays alive and well and that everyone involved is happy.


If you’re not into respecting the others within a polyamorous relationship, then it will not work. If you were in a monogamous relationship, respect would be expected of your partner, and vice versa, it needs to be expected of all partners in a polyamorous one.


Communication is key to any sound, long-lasting relationship. Without this, there isn’t a good foundation to launch off of for the other vital components. Ensuring that partners know what each other wants, what boundaries and rules are to be laid down, and people’s feelings that are involved are essential to ensuring everyone is happy.


In any relationship, there needs to be consent. Just because you’re in a relationship with multiple partners doesn’t mean that you can do anything you want. With anything in life, there needs to be consent given for everyone to be happy and function appropriately within a relationship.

Knowing these critical components and these terms will help you understand polyamory better as you explore this world of relationships. Doing more research and making sure that you go into a polyamorous relationship for the right reasons is always essential, and making sure that you’re ready to not only work on yourself but take on the responsibility of having over one other person in your life.

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