4 Misconceptions about Polyamory

Polyamory has recently drawn mainstream attention, but—as the new relationship concept on the block—it is oft misunderstood. While it’s now cool to admit you’re in an “open relationship”, it’s not something you can declare without hearing some cautionary tale about how you’re going to get your heart ripped out, or end up in hell for being a perverted misfit with no moral compass.

Here are some of the more common misconceptions about the polyamorous lifestyle that I’ve been met with over the years. Feel free to share more in the comments.

4 Misconceptions about Polyamory

1. It’s that Thing that Hardcore Mormons Do

Lots of people mistake polyamory for polygamy. Sure, both words start with “poly”, and both involve the transparent enjoyment of multiple partners, but that’s really where the similarities end.

First of all, polygamy is one-sided. Only the men in these relationships acquire additional partners. Secondly, it’s rooted in religious belief, whereas polyamory is simply a lifestyle choice. As a poly person, I do not identify as a “sister wife”, nor do I consider myself married to my partner in any legal or religious way.

2. It’s for Swingers Only

Orgies and key parties à la 1973—that’s what polyamory is all about, right? While I’m sure that some poly people do engage in group sex, or swap partners, these are not activities that all poly people engage in, nor are they a defining feature of polyamory.

Being poly really just means that you have chosen the path of ethical non-monogamy. What that looks like not only varies between people, but can fall anywhere on the kink-vanilla spectrum. I’m a vanilla poly person who enjoys a very conservative relationship dynamic. I practice polyfidelity and never mix it up partner-wise. That doesn’t make me any less poly than someone who goes to the sex club every week, or fucks her partner’s wife.

3. Poly People Are all Sex Addicts

Right, because polyamory is really just an excuse to fuck as many people as possible, as often as you can. Again, while this might be true for some poly people, it certainly isn’t for all. Some poly relationships are purely emotional, while some are physical but only on occasion. You can even identify as asexual and still consider yourself polyamorous!

poly is not about sex per se, but about keeping your heart free to love whomever you want, in whatever way you choose. This misconception draws on the belief that poly people are all just a bunch of commitment-intimacy phoebes, but it’s just not true!

4. There’s always Someone Less Loved in Poly Relationships

As someone who joined an existing relationship, I hear it all the time, “There’s no way he loves you as much as he loves his wife. You deserve better!” or the opposite version, “There’s only so much love to go around, and you’re taking too much of it. You’re going to ruin their marriage!” I think this is the saddest argument ever, and really just speaks to the number of people who feel that love is in short supply.

When you have a second kid, do you love the first one any less? Of course not! Hearts are made to expand.

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