Illustrative Photo
Illustrative Photo

What is Polyamory?

Polyamory is the practice of, or desire for, intimate relationships with more than one partner, with the informed consent of all partners involved. People who identify as polyamorous may believe in an open relationship with a conscious management of jealousy and reject the view that sexual and relational exclusivity are necessary for deep, committed, long-term loving relationships. Others prefer to restrict their sexual activity to only members of the group, a closed polyamorous relationship which is usually referred to as polyfidelity.

Polyamory has come to be an umbrella term for various forms of non-monogamous, multi-partner relationships, or non-exclusive sexual or romantic relationships. Its usage reflects the choices and philosophies of the individuals involved, but with recurring themes or values, such as love, intimacy, honesty, integrity, equality, communication, and commitment.

The Sun
The Sun

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How does it work?

According to the Independent, because polyamorous relationships do not follow the mainstream societal construct of a relationship, the logistics are often caused for confusion to outsiders. For a polyamorous relationship to be successful, everyone involved must be open and honest about what they want and need out of the union.

While the boundaries in polyamory are different from monogamous relationships, they do still exist - whether by defining who can enter into a relationship or putting limits on how much time can be spent with each. Maintaining open communication is integral to a polyamorous relationship so that issues do not arise. However, jealousy can still manifest - even if you are open with your partner/partners.

Illustrative Photo
Illustrative Photo

As a practice

Wiki reported that Consensual non-monogamy, which polyamory falls under, can take many different forms, depending on the needs and preferences of the individual(s) involved in any specific relationship or set of relationships. As of 2019 fully one-fifth of the United States population has, at some point in their lives, engaged in some sort of consensual non-monogamy

Separate from polyamory as a philosophical basis for relationships are the practical ways in which people who live polyamorously arrange their lives and handle certain issues, as compared to those of a more conventional monogamous arrangement. People of different sexual preferences are a part of the community and form networks of relationships, with the consent and agreement of their partners. Many things differentiate polyamory from other types of non-monogamous relationships. It is common for swinging and open couples to maintain emotional monogamy while engaging in extra-dyadic sexual relations.

Polyamorous communities are present in countries within Europe, North America, Oceania, South America, Asia, and Africa. The Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction estimating that there were half a million "openly polyamorous families" in the United States in July 2009. Additionally, 15-28% of heterosexual couples and about half of gay and bisexual people have a "non-traditional" arrangement of some kind as reported in The Guardian in August 2013. Polyamorous communities have been said to be outwardly feminist as women were central to the creation of such communities and gender equality is a central tenet. For those who are polyamorous, social distancing, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, created ripples in existing relationships, leading some to split apart and others to struggle to maintain their connections with one another.

Legal issues and legal recognition

According to Wiki, in 1998, a Tennessee court granted guardianship of a child to her grandmother and step-grandfather after the child's mother April Divilbiss and partners outed themselves as polyamorous on MTV. After contesting the decision for two years, Divilbiss eventually agreed to relinquish her daughter, acknowledging that she was unable to adequately care for her child and that this, rather than her polyamory, had been the grandparents' real motivation in seeking custody.

In 2010, Ann Tweedy, a legal scholar, argued that polyamory could be considered a sexual orientation under existing United States law.[69] This argument was opposed by Christian Keese, who wrote in 2016 that advocating a "sexual orientation model of polyamory is likely to reduce the complexity and transformative potential of poly intimacies," while also limiting reach and scope of possible litigation, obstruct the ability of poly activists to form alliances with other groups, and increase the possibility that poly activists will have to settle for legal solutions which are "exclusive and reproductive of a culture of privilege."

In March 2021, the Cambridge, Massachusetts City Council approved an ordinance amending the city's laws, stipulating that "a domestic partnership needn't only include two partners." The measure was supported by the Polyamory Legal Advocacy Coalition, also known as PLAC, composed of the Chosen Family Law Center, Harvard Law School LGBTQ+ Advocacy Clinic, and some members on the American Psychological Association's Committee on Consensual Non-Monogamy. This ordinance was originally proposed in July 2020.


Willow Smith opens up about being polyamorous

Via News, Smith, daughter of Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith, spoke to her mother and grandmother on "Red Table Talk" about being open to multiple intimate partners.

Willow Smith, the daughter of actors Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith, opened up to her mother and grandmother about living a polyamorous lifestyle.

Smith's pursuit of emotional and romantic relationships with multiple partners, known as polyamory, was the topic of discussion of this week's "Red Table Talk," the Facebook Watch talk show hosted by Smith, her mother, and Adrienne Banfield-Norris, her grandmother.

More celebrities open up about polyamorous

Actress Bella Thorne has been in a number of publicly non-monogamous relationships.

‘Grace and Frankie’ actor Baron Vaughn has opened up about past non-monogamous relationships.

Aubrey Marcus, New York Times bestselling author and CEO of ONNIT, has been in an open relationship with his fiance since 2013 and gives advice on ethical non-monogamy on his website.

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