Unless you've been living under a tinder-free rock, you've heard of polyamory or non-monogamy. Although they are often used synonymously polyamory or non-monogamy are not necessarily the same.
Scarleteen, a fabulous sex ed website, defines polyamory as, "Being interested in or pursuing intimate relationships (emotional and/or sexual) with more than one person at the same time, in a consensual, open, informed setting."
Personally, I had never heard of polyamory or poly until college. At first, it was a just word I noticed in a tinder bio. Later, a friend of mine mentioned they wanted to pursue a poly relationship.
I'm still exploring my sexuality and polyamory is something I've found incredibly interesting for a few years. I have spent this time learning about and exploring polyamory.
Here are 8 common mistakes college students make about polyamory:
1. Polyamory is NOT polygamy.
Oh hey there, sister wives.
Although polyamory and polygamy sound like the same word, they are very different relationship dynamics. Polygamy tends to have religious ties, like in TLC's show, "Sister Wives" and is usually between one man and multiple women. Although polyamorous folks may choose to live together and build a family, it is not a core tenant like in many polygamous relationships.
2. Polyamory is not cheating.
From the definition above, we learned that polyamory is consensual, open and informed. By definition, it is not cheating. Relationships with multiple partners that are not consensual, open or informed may be cheating, but then they are not polyamorous.
3. Polyamory is not the same for all poly folks.
There are many different types of poly relationships.
You may be familiar with Hierarchical polyamory, "Characterized by a "primary" or "anchor" relationship with a close level of personal and possibly financial entanglement (living together, for example), and "secondary" partners beyond that relationship. A "secondary" partner isn't necessarily less important but may be a smaller part of someone's daily life."
Alternatively, someone might be a solo polyamory arrangement where they have multiple partners, but do not seek a "primary" relationship with any of them.
TDLR; just because you've met one poly person, doesn't mean you understand all poly people.
4. Polyamory is not *necessarily* risky behavior.
College students equate multiple partners with a high risk of STI/STD. While that definitely can be the case, it is still possible to practice safe sex with multiple partners. If everyone involved is practicing safe sex and regularly getting tested that equals a safer environment. Like most things in a relationship, communication is key.
5. Polyamory isn't about having—more—sex.
While poly relationships can be sexual, it doesn't make it "about" sex. Relationship building takes a lot of work and energy. It is not a shortcut to having more sex.
6. Not all poly people have multiple partners.
Just because someone identifies as poly, doesn't necessarily mean that they are currently in multiple relationships. You're still *insert sexual orientation here* even when you don't have a partner.
7. Polyamory is not about avoiding commitment.
Polyamory can be more commitment than monogamy depending on your arrangement. Committing to multiple people means taking care to multiple people's needs, wants and desires. It can certainly be less of a commitment too. It's all about what you want.
Polyamorous people get married, nest and have kids just like monogamous folks.
8. Polyamory is not always easy.
Relationships aren't easy. Polyamory isn't easier because you 'have the ability to be with more people. Poly folks still have to build and maintain healthy relationships and that's never simple.