What is Polyamory? What does Polyamory mean? These are typical questions people ask, to whom this way of life is unknown. I personally experience this again and again. Other questions are: what does Polyamory look like, where can I meet polyamorous people, how do I find Polyamory dating, and last not least what is Polyamory vs Polygamy. This page is especially meant for the curious, interested and Beginners. It, therefore, provides answers to these and other questions about Polyamory.

What is Polyamory? In a nutshell

Polyamory is, on the one hand, a so-called “artificial word” from Greek “πολύς polýs” “much, several”, “and Latin “amor” “love”1Wikipedia: Polyamory. It is supposed to mean many loves or multiple loves. One speaks of polyamory or a polyamorous relationship when more than two people agree on a multiple love relation based on knowledge and consent of all parties involved. You can read on here or find other introductory articles about this life form on my page Introductions to Polyamory (coming soon, once I´ve translated it).

In this form, Polyamory has been around since it was “invented” in the nineties of the twentieth century. Since then it has been increasingly present in the media. Numerous articles from all over the world, which I constantly supplement by new articles, can be found here in the Polyamory Magazine Blog.

What is Polyamory? Way more detailed

Brief History of Polyamory

Ways of life like Polyamory existed long before the modern concept of Polyamory was invented. In antiquity, they simply spoke of Polygamy. For the term then and still today not only means polygamous marriage but as also explained by Wikipedia, includes the toleration of simultaneous marital and extramarital relations. This is close to Polyamory.2https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polygamy

Polyamory exists as a concept and “movement” since the nineties of the twentieth century. The term Polyamory was coined by Morning Glory Zell-Ravenheart3https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polyamory#Terminology in her text “A Bouquet of Lovers”4https://web.archive.org/web/20030508180124/http://www.lair.org/writings/polyamory/bouquet.html. If you want to read more about this and the predecessors of Polyamory, please visit the page History of Polyamory (coming soon, once I´ve had time for translation; I´m only one person doing all this besides my main job).

Basic Principles of Polyamory

To my knowledge the basic principles of Polyamory originally found in the concept developed by Zell-Ravenheart can be found in all the texts on Polyamory: it is about lasting love-relations. These relations are based on trust and therefore require openness, honesty, and, above all, knowledge and consent of all parties involved.

From my own experience, I can confirm these basic principles. They are the basis of my longest relationship, my polyamorous and open relationship since 2003 with a woman who is married to another man.

Scientists recommend these behaviors also for monogamous couples, as you can read here, for example, Polyamorous behaviors will make your monogamous relation better.

There is, however, a problem that monogamous couples encounter: They can hardly talk honestly about sexual desires for other partners or even love for others because then the monogamous relationship is in danger: fear of loss and jealousy arise.

But don´t think that there is no jealousy in polyamorous relations. About this and how to deal with it, we will talk a little later in this article. For now, on to another important question.

How common is Polyamory?

Polyamory is a quite new concept as described above. In addition, many people who live Polyamory do so only secretly, for fear of incomprehension, rejection, and discrimination, sometimes even leading to job loss. Thus Polyamory as a way of life does not appear in censuses or other official statistics. Therefore, exact figures are not available.

In the United States and Canada, several scientific studies have already been carried out on Polyamory and non-monogamous lifestyles. The latest study from the USA concluded that more than 20% of all Americans from all populations at some point in their lives lived openly non-monogamous. The number of people living Polyamory is estimated at 1.5 to 10 million for the US: How many people live in the US? (coming soon, needs to be translated). See also the Polyamory statistics page. (coming soon, needs to be translated).

There are no figures for my home-country Germany. I can only rely on my personal impression that in recent years the number of members of polyamorous groups has grown in online forums. Has attention for Polyamory in Germany reached a new level?

Is Polyamory prohibited?

In contrast to Polygamy, Polyamory is not forbidden in western countries. It is to my knowledge strictly speaking not even regulated by law in western countries. You might think that is good, but it can cause problems if there are no laws. There are, for example, questions of child rearing, inheritance law, and so on. About this, I will write more here soon, as you will also soon find several articles in the series Polyamory and the Law.

What forms of Polyamory are there?

This question can be answered in a very simple way, or very differentiated. For we live in a time when more and more people define themselves and their sexuality in their own particular way. If we do it entirely according to classical biology, we come to results as I present them on this page.

When we go about how the people involved shape their relationship, it can be very diverse. There can be threesomes, foursomes, etc. There may be closed groups or open relationships, diverse sexual orientations, and much more, as this English-language graphic shows.

On the other hand, one can say, however, that a relationship can only be described as Polyamory if it is based on love, intended to last long, as well as the knowledge and consent of all parties involved.

What are prejudices about Polyamory?

There are some stereotypes and prejudices about Polyamory. Most people think that it is about sex; Wrong, that’s swinging. Directly derived from this is the equally wrong opinion, someone who lives Polyamory has a greater risk of getting infected with HIV / AIDS. Equally wrong. Just take into consideration that polyamory means several sex partners, but always the same and familiar people makes clear that this is wrong. And the prejudice was also disproved in scientific studies. These and other clichés, as well as the reality, can be found on the page Prejudices about Polyamory (coming soon, translation is in the works).

Directly derived from this is the equally wrong opinion, that someone who lives Polyamory has a greater risk of getting infected with HIV / AIDS. Equally wrong. Just take into consideration that polyamory means several sex partners, but always the same and familiar people makes clear that this is wrong. And the prejudice was also disproved in scientific studies. These and other clichés, as well as the reality, can be found on the page Prejudices about Polyamory (coming soon, translation is in the works).

These and other clichés, as well as the reality, can be found on the page Prejudices about Polyamory (coming soon, translation is in the works).

How do I start with Polyamory?

Reading this page is a good start because several important topics are described here. So read on until the end. If you are interested, please visit the subpages, where the topics will be dealt with in more detail.

And I can advise you to consider a few things before you begin.

What should I consider before I try Polyamory?

Polyamory is particularly difficult at the beginning. For all of us from childhood on are constantly bombarded by the monogamy paradigm and brought up to see monogamy as the only right way to live. Although it is scientifically proven that people are not naturally monogamous, but rather polygamous/promiscuous. Professor David Barash has gathered the evidence in The Myth of Monogamy: Fidelity and Infidelity in Animals and People, from 2002, and in his recent work from 2016 Out of Eden: The Surprising Consequences of Polygamy.

However, since this has been taught in our western societies for centuries, we, therefore, lack the role models and learned behaviors for Polyamory. In addition, our societies do not support Polyamory, even often reject it.

So here are some questions you need to clarify for yourself.

  • Am I willing to dare doing this?
  • Am I willing to change my views?
  • Am I willing to live it openly, have a Polyamory Coming-Out, or do I prefer to keep it secret?
  • How will my environment react?

If you ask me if I have done all this before I started, the answer is: No. I came to it by surprise and unprepared. This was in 2003 when Polyamory was still largely unknown. And then I explored with my partner how we can do that.

We did not even know the term. We did not hear about Polyamory until after we had lived it for several years. A guide would have been helpful, that´s one reason why I run this website.

What about Jealousy in Polyamory?

Of course there is also jealousy in Polyamory. One might now begin to argue whether jealousy is an innate quality or a behavior acquired through cultural influences. But since most people are growing up in Western societies with the monogamous relationship model, most also have jealousy in their “emotional repertoire”.

Thus also people in polyamorous relationships experience fear of loss and the jealousy resulting from it. But they also have the chance to openly deal with these thoughts and feelings and overcome them, in the ideal case. For in Polyamory one does not lose the partner just because the partner loves someone else as well. But until you are able to see things this way it might take some time.

My partner and I needed several years and many conversations to get there. So do not despair, and especially don´t put yourself or your partner under pressure by demanding: “I/You must be free from jealousy.” No, you don´t.

How do I get to know other polyamorous people?

There are several ways, depending on where you live and what type of person you are. In some cities, there are meetings of people living Polyamory: Polyamory events and meetings (coming soon, translation in progress).

And there are online forums and social networking groups like Facebook. A list can be found at: Polyamory websites, blogs, forums. (coming soon, translation in progress)

Last but not least there are, of course, websites explicitly offering Polyamory Dating which you will find in the next section.

Are there dating websites for Polyamory?

There are, and you will find them on the page Polyamory Dating websites (coming soon, translation in progress).

Are there books about Polyamory?

There are several books about Polyamory, which can be found on my page Polyamory books (yes, this is also coming soon, translation in progress; I´m only one person, doing all this besides my main job).

What does science say about Polyamory?

The science about Polyamory is still in its infancy. I have compiled some results on the Polyamory Science page. (coming soon, translation in progress)

You will also find a page polyamory statistics here. (coming soon, translation in progress)

Are there any other websites about Polyamory?

Have not you had enough up to now? You would like to read more information about Polyamory, just not a book, but rather information on the web? Then you will find links on the page Polyamory websites, blogs, and forums. (coming soon, translation in progress)

This is an overview of what is Polyamory. If you want to know more about how people live Polyamory, visit the other pages in this section listed below or read some of the articles on the Blog.

More information about Polyamory

In the section "What is Polyamory" you will find information what Polyamory is, how Polyamory works, where you can meet other polyamorous people, as well as other topics, for example (all coming soon, translation is in progress; please have patience, I´m only one person doing all this besides my main job):

  • Prejudices about Polyamory describes common prejudices about Polyamory and presents you with the scientifically documented reality
  • Polyamory Events and Meetings
  • Polyamory dating websites
  • Polyamory Science with results from research about Polyamory

Please feel free to send your suggestions, they are welcome

If you have any suggestions, please send them via the contact form. You can also write comments on each page.

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