Polyamorous Relationship Structures

By Stephanie M. Sullivan, MS, LLMFT
Polyamory is the combination of the Greek word for “ many ” and the Latin word for “ love. ” Combined, polyamory means “ many loves ” or “ more than one love ” ( Anapol, 2010 ; Klesse 2006 ). To be more specific, polyamory is a relationship dash centered on the impression that it is possible to love more than one person. Polyamorous relationships frequently involve having more than one romanticist relationship simultaneously, with full cognition and accept of all the partners involved. Polyamory is not adulterous, and should not be confused with affairs or infidelity. It besides differs from polygamy, which is a religious-based form of non-monogamy. It is estimated that there are somewhere between 1.2 to 9.8 million polyamorous people living in the United States ( Sheff, 2014 ) .
Every polyamorous kinship has unlike structures, as there are frequently more than two people involved in a quixotic relationship. however, there are some basic labels to categorize the different kinds of relationships that polyamorous people form .
Vee: A vee relationship is made up of three partners and gets its diagnose from the letter “ V, ” in which one person acts as the “ hinge ” or “ pivot ” partner dating two people. The other two people are not romantically or sexually involved with each other. These two people are known as “ metamours ” to one another ( metamours are two people who are dating the same person, but are not actively dating each early ). Metamours in a vee relationship may not know one another, may be undefined acquaintances, or may be very good friends. In some cases, metamours may even live with one another, with or without their partner.

Triad: A trio is besides made up of three partners, but is a relationship in which all three partners are romantically and/or sexually involved with each other. Triads may be formed when an existing couple opens their relationship and finds a one-third partner who is concerned in them both, and whom they are both besides concerned in. They may besides be formed when two metamours in a vee relationship begin to date, changing the phase of the kinship from a vee to a three. A three may besides form when three very conclude friends begin dating each early at the same time .
Quad: A quadruplet is made up of four partners who are well connected in some direction, whether romantically or sexually. A quad can be formed in a multitude of ways, such as a three adding another partner. however, quads are often formed when two swinging couples connect and begin dating, forming the quad .
While these labels are descriptive of some of the kinds of relationships that can form, this list is by no means exhaustive. Every person ’ sulfur relationship landscape will look different. person who is separate of a vee relationship may besides be contribution of a different, separate trio. They may besides simply be dating one other person, or no one at all. The people involved in these relationship structures may be referred to as an individual ’ second polycule, which is a term used to discuss jointly all of the people who are in a kinship with one or more members of a polyamorous group. This term was created by combining the words “ polyamory ” and “ molecule. ”
There are besides add layers to the way people in polyamorous relationships experience their relationships. A popular impression in the polyamorous community is “ You can have unlimited love, but you do not have unlimited time. ” Therefore, each individual has to make a option about how they prioritize their time and emotional energy, and how to define the importance of each relationship .
Hierarchical Polyamory: Individuals who practice hierarchical polyamory place more importance on one relationship above other relationships ( Easton & Hardy, 2009 ). The collaborator that this person shares finances with, lives with, or co-parents with will probably be considered the primary partner. This person may be prioritized above other relationships in regards to time commitments, vacations and holidays, going to class functions, and early important events as well. other partners may be considered secondary or tertiary. Secondary or third partners may not be taken into bill when large decisions are being made, and if the individual is not “ out ” as polyamorous, could even be kept hidden from friends and family .
Non-Hierarchical Polyamory: In non-hierarchical polyamory, individuals within the relationship do not prioritize one relationship above all others. This does not inevitably mean that clock is split evenly between two or more partners, nor does it mean that all the partners live together. It does mean that every spouse is considered when making big decisions. It may besides mean that each partner has the ability to go on vacations with the person. Within non-hierarchical polyamory, there is broadly a belief that one partner does not hold importance over another, and each relationship is significant in its own way.

Solo Polyamory (also referred to as “sopo”): A solo polyamorist is person who does not have any desire to be considered part of a “ coupled ” relationship. In alone polyamory, an individual may not live with or share finances with anyone else, and does not have the desire to work toward those things. Some solo polyamorists may live with different partners throughout the year and prefer a mobile life style. They often consider their partners when making big decisions, but do not allow their partners to dictate their choices. For some people, solo polyamory is an option to pursue for a limited time, possibly while raising their children or when an person is focused on their career and has no desire to build a home with another person. For others, alone polyamory is a lifelong pursuit, and often consider themselves their own chief kinship ( Winston, 2017 ). This can allow the solo polyamorist to make decisions based on what makes themselves and their relationships strong and happy. Although solo polyamorists normally do not live with their collaborator ( mho ), this does not mean that they do not have one or more deeply committed and intimate relationships .
Relationship Anarchy: A person who practices relationship anarchy may differ a bit from other polyamorists, but they distillery frequently fall within the spectrum of polyamory. Relationship anarchy is a relatively new terminus to refer to individuals who believe that all interpersonal relationships are equally crucial ( Winston, 2017 ). A relationship anarchist might have multiple romantic relationships simultaneously, but may besides avoid making special distinctions between relationships that are romanticist, sexual, platonic, or familial. They often avoid putting relationships into categories or having expectations in their relationships. rather, they allow their relationships to take any form and have any flat of commitment that the participants decide to have. For exercise, a relationship anarchist may choose to buy a house with their best friend, quite than their romantic collaborator of ten years .
again, this number is not exhaustive by any means. Every individual navigating a polyamorous relationship will structure their relationships differently, and may identify with certain aspects of these polyamorous structures but not with others. This list is merely intended as an introduction to understanding how many polyamorous relationships mannequin and develop. Any of these relationship structures can be done in a healthy way or in an unhealthy direction ; it is up to the participants to ensure they are practicing the unlike forms of polyamory ethically .
In any kinship, whether it is monogamous or a consensual non-monogamous relationship, there is the possibility that person with get their feelings hurt, feel jealousy, and experience arguments and disagreements. consequently, it is imperative mood for an individual in any relationship to consider the needs of each of their partners, their boundaries, and their expectations for the relationship. It is besides important to consider your own needs, boundaries, and expectations within relationships, and to learn to communicate these things safely and considerately. Educating yourself about the polyamorous residential district, ethical and non-ethical relationships, and healthy communication techniques can all help you navigate glad and healthy relationships with your partners .


Anapol, D. ( 2010 ). Polyamory in the twenty-first hundred : Love and affair with multiple partners. Lanham, MD :
Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.

Easton, D., & Hardy, J. W. ( 2009 ). The ethical slattern : A practical guide to polyamory, open relationship, &
other adventures ( 2nd ed. ). Berkley, CA : celestial Arts .
Sheff, E. ( 2014 ). The polyamorists next door : Inside multiple-partner relationships and families. Lanham,
MD : Rowman & Littlefield .
Winston, D. ( 2017 ). The bright girl ’ s lead to polyamory : Everything you need to know about open relationships, non-monogamy, and option love. New York, NY : Skyhorse print .

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