According to a study published in the in April 2016, 21 percent of people have had a nonmonogamous relationship—one in which “all partners agree that each may have romantic and/or sexual relationships with other partners.” The data, pulled from 8,718 respondents in the annual Singles in America survey, is clear: Polyamory—having more than one sexual or romantic partner, with all partners agreeing to the arrangement—is a common type of relationship.But even though it may be common, that doesn’t mean it’s easily understood.
But one thing is consistent: Polyamory is all about respect, open communication, and the ability to live love on terms that work for the people involved in the relationship.
Here, three polyamorous individuals explain how it works for them, and clear up some common misconceptions people may have about the lifestyle.
“Those are our emotional check-in times, when we talk about what’s working, what isn’t, and what we need from each other,” explains Turner.
For Turner, it comes down to some house rules: “For example, the biggest fight I ever had with my first husband regarding polyamory was about who was allowed to sleep in our bed.
Turns out, it did—but she doesn’t have any regrets.
“When we opened up the marriage and began meeting other people, we realized the best thing for both of us was to let each other go,” says Turner, who remarried five years ago. Land and wrote the book actively dates other men and women but considers the relationship between herself and her second husband to be her “primary.” For her, that means the two live together, split household expenses and chores, and create the terms of what polyamory means to them.“For us, there’s a huge difference between fidelity (being sexually exclusive to just one person) and loyalty (supporting and being honest to another person).“If I do come home before planned, I’ll text first or make a lot of noise.While we do like to meet each other’s partners and we often become friends, it’s important to give a sense of privacy, too,” explains Turner. And sex, says Turner, is only one part of the lifestyle.“I’ll think of the week, and be like, OK, when do I want a sleepover with my boyfriend?It’s not necessarily spontaneous.” And Stryker admits it’s not for everyone.“To me, polyamory isn’t something practiced by a couple, but practiced by individuals,” says Lindgren.