Polyamorous Relationship Types and Poly Partner Lingo

As conversations about polyamorous relationships become more widespread in various spheres from the workplace to psychology circles to the courtroom, the constantly changing poly relationship lingo is also more widely used.

It can be tricky to stay up to date and keep track of all the various terms describing polyamorous relationships.

Read: ENM Relationships: 10 Examples of Ethical Non-Monogamy

Here’s your handy lexicon for poly relationships.

10 Types of Poly Relationships

1. Hierarchical Polyamory

When poly relationships are prioritized differently, such as when a married couple chooses to open their marriage and date other people, but maintain the priority of their relationship, it is called hierarchical polyamory.

Read: Hierarchical Polyamory vs Non-Hierarchical Polyamory

2. Non-Hierarchical (Egalitarian) Polyamory

When all poly relationships are considered equivalent rather than primary, secondary, tertiary, and casual, this is often referred to as non-hierarchical or egalitarian polyamory. No specific relationship or person is considered more or less important than another.

3. Solo Polyamory

When a polyamorous person is single or independent and pursues polyamorous relationships, they may describe their lifestyle as solo polyamory. Someone who enjoys living alone and making decisions independently, but also enjoys sex and long-term relationships with multiple partners may prefer solo polyamory.

Read: What Is Solo Polyamory and Is It for You?

4. Kitchen Table Polyamory

Kitchen table polyamory is a poly relationship term that describes the kind of casual comfort and intimacy that you have with your metamours (your partners’ partners) where you can sit down and share coffee or lunch and catch up with each other.

5. Parallel Polyamory

This is in contrast to the polyamorous relationship styles that don’t get too chummy with their lovers’ lovers. If you and your lover each have other relationships but don’t have a casual friendship with those other lovers, that’s called parallel polyamory.

6. DADT Polyamory

Don’t-ask-don’t-tell polyamory is the kind of poly relationship where lovers know they can and do and seek other partners for sex or romance, but don’t share the details.

DADT polyamory has an often frowned-upon reputation in the poly community because openness and honesty is prized and valued. However, depending on the poly relationship, DADT polyamory is not always dishonest. Some people are more private or have arrangements for their own reasons.

Read: DADT Relationships and Their Challenges

7. Polyfidelity

When people in a polyamorous relationship are committed to dating each other and no one outside that polycule, that is called polyfidelity. Just as a couple can be monogamous and committed only to each other, a group can have polyfidelity and be committed only to the members of that group. They do not date or have sexual encounters outside of that group.

The reasons for choosing polyfidelity are as varied as any other kind of poly relationship. Some are cautious about STIs and others are simply in love with several people at once and committed to only those people.

Read: Polyfidelity: FAQ

8. Long-Distance Polyamory

Poly relationships can be long-distance relationships, with the same challenges and benefits that other long-distance lovers have.

One of the benefits of polyamorous relationships is that they can be more varied because lovers are not as dependent on a particular partner to fill all of their needs. When someone lives far away and only comes to town occasionally, a poly relationship can be many years long and find fulfillment on those occasions.

Read: Long Distance Relationships and Polyamory: It Just Works

9. Mono-Poly Relationships

Mixed relationships are a poly relationship where there is someone who is monogamous and someone who is polyamorous. This can happen when people fall in love or feel attraction to each other but have established strong preferences for their own relationship style. One partner will be monogamous while the other is free to date other partners.

This kind of polyamorous relationship is sometimes challenging, but it is not uncommon. As with any other kinds of differences, navigating values and preferences can be tricky but also rewarding.

Read: How to Make a Poly/Mono Relationship Work

10.Relationship Anarchy

Polyamory that rejects definition and hierarchy is sometimes referred to as relationship anarchy. This kind of polyamorous relationship is a radical concept where there is no hierarchy, not just between different romantic relationships or partners, but also between family relationships or friendships.

Relationship anarchy is egalitarian and encourages people to design the kind of sexual and romantic life, and relationship style, that works for them and their partners.

Read: An Introduction to Relationship Anarchy

6 Polyamorous Relationship Partner Terms

1. Primary Partner

In hierarchical polyamory, the primary partner is at the top of the poly relationship structure. The primary partner may be the person you are married to, or the person you have been with the longest, or the person you have children with.

Not everyone who has a primary partner views their poly relationship through the lens of hierarchical polyamory or uses this kind of language. It may simply make sense that if you’ve been together for twenty years and open the marriage, that your long-term spouse is prioritized over people you have just met or only sleep with.

Read: How to Find a Primary Partner

2. Secondary Partner

An important relationship that is not the primary relationship is sometimes called a secondary partnership in poly relationships.

Read: Is Being a Secondary Partner Right for You?

3. Nesting Partner

The nesting partner in polyamorous relationships is the partner (or partners) who you live with and make mutual household decisions with or share financial responsibilities with.

Read: 6 Tips for Nesting Partners in Polyamorous Relationships

4. Anchor Partner

Sometimes the person with whom you have the strongest bond or rely on the most in poly relationships is called the anchor partner. This term evolved from non-hierarchical polyamory when the term primary partner, which implies a hierarchy, was rejected.

We may naturally gravitate to a particular person or relationship because some bonds are stronger than others. So the person who felt like the rock or anchor, who was not going anywhere, became the anchor partner.

Read: How to Be Your Own Primary Partner

5. Metamour

Metamour is the word used in poly relationships to describe your lover’s lovers.

Read: 4 Simple Ways to Show Love for Your Metamour

6. Comet Partner

A comet partner is when there is a long-distance poly relationship or someone you don’t see very often, but when you do, it is intense and close, like a comet.

What kind of polyamorous partner are you? What makes it satisfying?

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