7 Common Myths About Being Polyamorous

4 gummy candy hearts dusted with sugar (one red, one yellow, one green, one blue)
Image by Jorge Brazil / CC BY

Polyamory has become much more visible in the last few years. While public acceptance and understanding are increasing, a number of misconceptions still persist about being polyamorous. Here are a few common ones:

1. When you’re polyamorous, you’re always looking for new partners.

No. Just because a person is polyamorous, it doesn’t mean they’re in the market for a new relationship.

In fact, some poly people practice polyfidelity, a style of polyamory where multiple people are romantically involved but the relationship is closed to new partners.

And even polyamorous folks who aren’t practicing polyfidelity reach a point where they don’t have the time or energy to pursue new relationships. Poly folks have a special word for this: Polysaturation.

You can become polysaturated from having a lot of relationships, but that’s not the only way. Life stress and non-romantic responsibilities and commitments affect a person’s dating “bandwidth.”

2.  All polyamorous people are bisexual.

Not at all. There are plenty of polyamorous people who are gay, straight, or lesbian.

However, it is true that polyamorous people are more likely to be bisexual than the general population. A survey of 1,010 self-identified polyamorous folks conducted by Loving More found that about 40% called themselves bi, compared to 2% of the general American public (age 18 to 44).

3. You can only be considered polyamorous if and when you have multiple relationships going on at the same time.

Not true. If you’re open to having more than one partner (with the informed consent of all involved parties), then you can be considered polyamorous. This is true even if you’ve never been in a polyamorous relationship.

And if you have 2 partners and one of them breaks up with you, you don’t suddenly become un-poly.

After all, poly folks can become too busy or stressed to date (as in #1). Or voluntarily take a break from seeking new partners (especially after a difficult breakup).

And sometimes? You just can’t find anybody even though you’re looking, similar to dry spells in monogamous dating.

4. If you have flings, you’re not polyamorous.

Some other folks may feel differently about this, but for me polyamory is about radical openness to whatever happens to develop. And it’s okay if whatever develops stays very casual. I differentiate it from other open relationship styles in that polyamory is not scared of developing multiple emotional connections. But that doesn’t mean that every person you start up with has to become a Relationship.

Sometimes? A connection stays strictly physical. So long as everyone is treated with respect and honesty, it’s still polyamory in my book.

5. Polyamory is just a thing that men trick women into doing so they can have more sex.

Actually, polyamorous women (and men, for that matter) tend to hold very feminist attitudes compared to the general population. And within the community, women largely call the shots — the polyamory movement is female dominated. Essentially, polyamory is a matriarchy.

6. All poly people are kinky.

This is not true.

A significant number of kinksters are polyamorous, likely because of BDSM’s focus on consent and recognition that different people can fulfill different forms of gratification.

But there are lots of vanilla poly people.

And for that matter, there are plenty of kinky monogamous people.

7. If you’re polyamorous, you never get jealous.

Not true at all. Some polyamorous folks experience little to no jealousy, but that’s not the case for all poly people.

However, what you’ll often find with poly folks (especially seasoned vets) is we’re less likely to jump to the conclusion that jealousy means that somebody did something wrong or that there’s something lacking in the relationship. It’s really okay to feel jealous. Jealousy is a message, but what exactly that message means in the context of what’s going on? Well, that’s a different story.

 

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