What It Means to Be Poly Monogamous

On a few occasions I’ve received comments about polyamory from people who are confused when they meet monogamous poly people. Isn’t the whole point of polyamory to be able to have multiple sexual and romantic partners, and to keep a door open to new relationships?

While polyamory does mean “many lovers,” lots of poly people are in a relationship or series of relationships where they are exclusively committed to the people involved, or to specific terms.

There are many expressions of polyamory. For some people, it means a husband and wife occasionally seek out a third woman for a threesome because the woman is bisexual. For others, it means never settling down and maintaining free and open relationships with many lovers over time but never being committed or serious with another person.

For some, it means two couples swing together, or all live together. For others, it’s about communal family life and sharing a plot of land and farming, staying together, but far away from other people.

And there are some who only view poly as a concept—the door is open, but neither partner has ever taken another lover.

Poly monogamy simply means that whoever is involved in the relationships in question is committed to specific terms within those relationships.

Why People Choose Poly Monogamy

They are happy with what they have.

“For many poly folks, it’s all about exploring different relationships or keeping the options open. For me, it was about not wanting to lose my wife, who was in love with two men. We decided to stay together—all of us.”

Kevin, Cameron, and Alexa have been together for more than ten years. Alexa is faithful to the two men, and sometimes they have a threeway together, but no one else is part of the arrangement, and they are committed to it.

In another scenario, Beth, Lori, Mark, and Julio share a house and expenses and childcare. They are all bisexual, and they have all been faithful to the four members for many years with no plans to change. “We all love each other,” Julio explains. “We are poly because we all wanted to be together, not because we wanted to be with other people.”

They don’t want to complicate things further or add unknown variables.

Managing multiple relationships can be even trickier than looking after one relationship! Some poly people choose to limit themselves to what is already on the table so that there are no surprise complications.

Janice, 26, says, “I decided when I was 19 and in love with an older man that I wanted to be part of his life. He and his wife were in an open relationship, and I joined them. I’ve never been with anyone else, and I’m happy. They both seek out other options but I don’t. I have everything I want and don’t want to date people just for the hell of it, or have to explain to some guy that I’m with a married couple.”

They like the health and safety features.

One of the biggest reasons people choose poly monogamy is the same one that monogamous couples do. Ben, who in a poly arrangement with five women and three men—some live together and some don’t—says, “Everyone was tested for infections, and we don’t want to use condoms. It’s really special to be able to get skin to skin. Knowing we are all faithful within our circle, we can be open and liberated and safe. It’s wonderful.”

Any readers in poly monogamous relationships? What do you like about this type of poly arrangement?

Tell us what you think

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