TF is polyamory?

PS: It’s not just about sex.

While polyamory (to be in a relationship with more than one person) is not the only type of ethical non-monogamous relationship, it is one of the most popular types in South Africa and polyamorous relationships are finally being more and more widely validated and recognized.

For Apeiron.‘s LOVE, IRL issue, we got to chatting about the 4 main ways love has changed for the next gen. We spoke about hook-up culture and the rise of casual sex, marriage and the delay to commit, self love and how the way we look at ourselves affects our relationships, and lastly the different types of relationships that exist today and what they mean.

We went out to interview festival-goers at Endless Daze 2018 and found that 13 out of 25 people were non-monogamous (monogamy means to date one person). One festival-goer said that while she was mostly monogamous, she would be open to a polyamorous relationship if she ‘was in a situation where it felt right’. While ethical non-monogamous relationships were popular, they were not completely understood. So we broke down the different types here in How we love is changing.

Here we break down the myths of  polyamory (and a few about monogamy too).

1 IT’S JUST ABOUT SEX

Polyamory focuses on intimate relationships. Yes, that may involve sex- but the main aim as with any relationship is partnership and intimacy.

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2 IT’S FOR COMMITMENT-PHOBES

Contrarily, a polyamorous relationship requires more commitment. After all, if you were afraid of commitment, wouldn’t it be harder to commit to two people than it would be to commit to one?

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3 AN EXCUSE TO CHEAT

A healthy polyamorous relationship always involves consent, where both partners are involved in the decision to open up the relationship. Communication is vital, even more so than in a monogamous relationship due to the heightened potential for misunderstandings and jealousy. Hooking up with people without your partner knowing is called cheating, casual sex encounters with your partner knowing would be deemed as an open relationship. Polyamorous relationships involve the same levels, if not more, of trust and communication as monogamous ones.

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4 THEY SERVE MEN ONLY

Sexuality therapist and author of The State of Affairs, Esther Perel states that research shows that in a monogamous relationship “men remain much more interested sexually in a partner for a longer time [while] women tend to lose their interest in a shorter amount of time”. giphy-2Growing female sexual liberation and current mainstream support of women’s rights has likely resulted in a rise of embracing one’s own sexual autonomy thereby empowering women to redefine love and sex. In this vein, polyamory might be more beneficial to women than men.

5 YOU CAN’T LOVE MORE THAN ONE PERSON

This comes from a common societal idea that love is finite. But, explains More Than Two, this starvation model of love is toxic because it tells us that “if you fall in love with another person, you have to ‘pay’ for it by withdrawing your love from the first person”. giphy-11“Love is not the same thing as money”, they say. “With money, you have only a limited amount to spend, and when you give it to one person you have less left to give to another… Don’t think of the contents of your heart the way you think of the contents of your wallet; it doesn’t work like that.”

6 IT’S TABOO

According to the YouGov study we mentioned in How we love is changing, 40% of people said they were in a non-monogamous relationship and only 51% of those surveyed said they defined their ideal relationship as monogamous. Turns out, it’s pretty common, and a lot of us are open to it. What makes it taboo is the lack of education and understanding, and therefore conversation about it.

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7 IT COULD FIX YOUR FAILING RELATIONSHIP

Trying to fix your current relationship by opening it up when you are not comfortable with the idea, or simply to keep a partner happy is not the answer. It’s just a plain bad idea.

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8 THERE’S ONE TYPE

There are many forms, and the form a poly relationship takes depends on your own current dynamic, boundaries and personalities. Some involve married couples with a ‘secondary’ partner, sometimes partners exist separately and sometimes they exist in tandem. The choice, and rules, would be up to you (and your partner).

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Words: Zoya Pon

Feature image: Elena Boils

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