Polyamory confuses a lot of people (mostly because the word combines Greek and Latin terms). Roughly translated to “many loves,” the idea behind polyamory is a simple one; you are in multiple, consensual relationships with multiple people at the same time, everyone knows about everyone else, and everyone accepts the situation.
How Do These Relationships Work?
The simple answer is they work the same way monogamous relationships work; with time, consideration, love, positive regard, and open lines of communication. The only difference is that instead of having a single partner for whom you have to do these things with/for, you have multiple partners. Not only that, but all partners have to do their part to make sure the relationship is strong, and that everyone is having his or her needs met.
Polyamory takes a lot of different forms, as well. For example, you might have a married couple where one (or both) members have secondary partners of their own. Some couples will only add partners they can share between them. In some polyamorous relationships there is a primary partner (someone who takes precedence; a first among equals, if you will), and in some relationships all partners are treated the same.
If you find that confusing, it’s because you need to remember the golden rule of polyamory…
Everyone Polys Differently
Just like no two couples are truly the same in monogamy, no two couples are exactly alike when it comes to polyamory. Every couple has their own, unique rules, preferences, and methods that work for them, and they aren’t beholden to some bigger, universal relationship guide. As long as their relationship works for them, it isn’t hurting anyone, and all persons involved are happy, then it’s legitimate.
It’s also important to remember, first and foremost, that polyamory is not cheating. If you tell your wife there’s a secretary at the office who wants to be your girlfriend, and she approves of this, you aren’t cheating. In the same vein, if your wife wants a secondary lover and companion, and you approve of that, she’s not cheating either. The permission, the approval, and being emotionally okay with the other partners in people’s lives is far, far more important than who is having sex with whom when it comes to polyamory.