Call it the Tinder effect or a social shift that is sweeping the globe, the hookup culture has become quite a phenomenon in major Indian cities as well. But many critics have argued the case of another upcoming (even ancient, according to some people) relationship practice called polyamory. Even the version of Microsoft Office installed on my computer doesn’t recognise the term. So here’s what both you and my PC need to know about it.

What is polyamory?

The term is derived from Greek and Latin words poly and amor, implying ‘many loves.’ Someone who is polyamorous has more than one romantic relationship at one time with the knowledge and consent of everyone involved.

You mean polygamy?

Polyamory should not be confused with polygamy, which is the practice of one person in a couple having more than one partner. Polyamory, on the other hand, stresses on openness, fair distribution of attention.

Cheating maybe?

It is different from cheating, where people are kept under the dark about other relationship(s). Polyamory is a completely different philosophy which believes that relationships do not come as a one-size-fits-all.

Swinging then?

It is also different from Swinging. There, the focus is on recreational sex, though friendships and deeper bonds may develop. On the contrary, polyamory sets the focus on deeper relationships and sex is (often) a part of it.

Are there any rules?

Though there are no fixed rules for polyamory, one of the following arrangements can be commonly found:

  • Polyfidelity: It’s like a monogamous relationship with more than two people involved. For instance, there are three people where one person is sexually active with the other two or all of them are sexually involved with each other. Notably, no ‘outsider’ is allowed just like two people in a monogamous relationship can take a new lover.
  • In another similar arrangement, an ‘outsider’ might be allowed under certain circumstances— generally he/she has to be approved beforehand by everyone involved, and has to have knowledge of the nature of the relationship.
  • In a lot of cases, there is a ‘primary’ couple, say a husband and a wife. Either one or both the spouses may have outside lovers but they are ‘secondary’ in terms of the daily involvement than say, the marriage. The ‘secondary’ relationships are not less important, but only have different goals than the ‘primary’ one.
  • The polyamorous relationship could even have no system of a ‘primary’ relationship and each person involved can have more than one ‘secondary’ partners. This way, the involvement of each partner can be as much as the other(s).

How do I discover if I’m poly?

To give a try at being poly you need to be in one such arrangement. Make sure that everyone is on the same page in terms of your expectations, restrictions, involvement of new people and the involvement in each others’ lives. Also, be compassionate, give things time and ensure that there is good communication and regular conflict resolution.

Where do you find other poly people?

Go out and talk. Also, join a local poly group to help learn more about such arrangements. You even have polyamory dating sites these days!

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