A Guide to Polyamory Terminology

If you’re thinking of entering into the world of polyamory, you might not know that there are many different ways of being poly, as well as a long list of terminology used to describe various aspects of the lifestyle. Perhaps you’ve come across a few blogs or articles that left you wondering what exactly you’ve read. I’ve used several poly-specific terms in my own writing, without ever stopping to explain them, so this week I’ll take the opportunity to define a few things.

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Simply stated, the word “metamour” refers to your partner’s partner. A metamour is not someone with whom you choose to engage in a sexual relationship. Your only connection lies in the fact that you share the same romantic partner. When using the word in a sentence you might say, “My partner and metamour are planning a hot date for Friday.”

A cute, poly-fied version of the word molecule, polycule refers to the many people revolving around you in your poly relationship, from your partners to your metamours, however numerous they might be. I find it a handy term when I want to avoid the ever tangled language that would otherwise be called upon to describe the relationships of all the people in my poly world. It also conjures up a feeling of cosiness, I think. But maybe that’s just me.

Kitchen Table Relationship
This term is derived from the very activity that often accompanies it, a heartfelt chat across the kitchen table between all or any members of a polycule. Basically, it refers to a poly relationship in which everyone knows each other, spends time together and communicates openly about their needs and emotions. This kind of scenario can get pretty intense, but is well worth it, especially if you’re someone who thrives on discussing your feelings. A lot. Mind you, everybody’s free to create whatever sort of relationship dynamic they want. If you decide to keep your kitchen table conversation casual, that’s fine too.

It’s my experience, from talking with non-poly people, that when they think of polyamory they often envision a sexual free for all! What else is the poly lifestyle good for but to have the freedom to sleep with whomever you choose, whenever you want?! Well, for some people this is indeed a desired perk but for others, it’s a little much. Choosing to engage in polyfidelity means that you’re placing a restriction on your relationship to include only the people who are currently involved. 

While this is certainly not an exhaustive list of all the poly terminology out there, I hope that it might help you in your explorations. Are there any other poly terms you would want to see added to the list? If so, why not leave them in a comment?

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