Thoughts On Solo-Poly, Open Relationships & Non-Traditional Setups
“It can be interesting with the right partner”
News flash, monogamy isn’t the only type of relationship out there. And that isn’t to say non-monogamy is better, it’s just to let you know that people aren’t limited to the couple format or boy-girl, marry-as-virgins and celibate-upon-the-demise-of-the-partner structure. Might as well know our options if science claims we humans aren’t built for a single relationship.
But before we get into what they are, we asked a few people on their thoughts on partnering that isn’t one-on-one:
Two out of the four people we spoke to are open-minded but would rather stick to a single relationship. Patrick says that if he ever found himself in one and it works, and he’s happy, then why not, whereas L has experienced non-monogamy and explains it can be interesting with the right partner.
Ready to take the plunge? Deep breaths now.
What is non-monogamy?
Psychology Today explains, it’s any type of relationship outside the traditional that is diverse and “varies in degrees of emotional connection, honesty, importance of rules or structure and sexual openness.”
In some cultures, non-monogamy is also dependent on political stance, religion and tradition. Subcultures also play a role in shaping an individual’s or couple’s preference. Practitioners of polyamory, for instance, tend to be politically liberal or progressive, or are science-fiction enthusiasts or BDSM practitioners.
It’s also important to understand that non-monogamy differs from cheating in that the former requires transparency and consensus from both parties. Fun fact, the rate of STI transmission among consensual non-monogamists is smaller than among non-consensual non-monogamists.
RELATED: Are You Guilty of Micro-Cheating?
The couple in this type of relationship are primarily monogamous but allow varying degrees of sexual contact with others. Rules vary per couple, including limitations on the kind of activity (i.e., kissing and touching are okay, but no sex) and time or location (i.e., applicable only while traveling for long periods of time).
Open involves a primary couple, married or in a long-term relationship, “open” to sexual contact with a third, fourth or fifth partner. This may be practiced as a couple or separately but the relationship with the primary is always first priority. Of course, communication, expectations and general rules between parties are always dependent on the needs of everyone involved.
Polygamy versus Polyamory versus Polyfidelity versus Poly++
History shows that polygamy, a form of marriage consisting more than two persons, predates monogamy. We’ve all read stories of kings with multiple wives that are sexually exclusive to the husband.
Meanwhile, polyamory allows people to have multiple sexual and/or romantic relationships simultaneously—ideally with the knowledge and consent of all involved parties. Polyfidelity is quite similar, “except that it is a closed relationship style that requires sexual and emotional fidelity to an intimate group that is larger than two.” There are more layers to the poly structure, including solo-polyamory (soly-poly), where a person can have two or more long-term partners but presents oneself as single in all non-date, social and professional situations.
This style of relationship is less concerned with hierarchies of relationships. For individuals with a preference in RA, each relationship is meaningful and unique; you can be in more than one and you aren’t limited to a romantic format.
Trivia time! Swinging began as “wife-swapping” among US Air Force pilots post World War II and involves committed couples consensually exchanging partners. Reasons are primarily for sexual purposes.
We’ve said this once before: do as you please, but do so responsibly. Be honest and communicate what you want and need, like or dislike with your partner or partners. But listen to what they have to say, too. And if at some point you guys just aren’t aligned, in preference, in values or what have you, and neither can come to a compromise, please don’t take it as a free pass to stray.
Art Alexandra Lara