Can a solo poly person be a nesting partner?
Thanks for the question! Before I dive deeply into it, let’s first explore the definitions of those two terms for readers who might be unfamiliar with them.
What Is a Nesting Partner?
“Nesting partner” is a fairly straightforward term. A nesting partner is any partner that you live with. That’s it.
Just means that you live together. Like you’re birds nesting. Cute, eh?
What Is Solo Polyamory? A Few Definitions
Solo polyamory, one of many popular styles of polyamory, however, takes a little more explaining. Here’s one definition (the one I wrote for my second book):
Solo polyamory (also commonly known as solo poly), is a category of polyamory that covers a wide range of relationships that essentially take a “free agent” approach to polyamory. Many solo polyamorists don’t choose to share a home or finances with intimate partners and generally tend to emphasize themselves as individuals and not part of a couple or triad.
And here’s another, from Amy Gahran (Aggie Sez) at solopoly.net, a wonderful site that I wholeheartedly recommend for any further reading you might want to do on solo polyamory:
Solo polyamory: Flipping these words around, polyamory is, broadly speaking, one approach to engaging in (or being open to having) ethically nonexclusive relationships involving sex, romance, or deep emotional intimacy. What distinguishes solo poly people is that we generally do not have intimate relationship which involve (or are heading toward) primary-style merging of life infrastructure or identity along the lines of the traditional social relationship escalator. For instance, we generally don’t share a home or finances with any intimate partners. Similarly solo poly people generally don’t identify very strongly as part of a couple (or triad etc); we prefer to operate and present ourselves as individuals.
In that article, Gahran emphasizes that there are a range of different expressions of solo polyamory. “People can be solo poly by choice or circumstance,” Gahran writes. “That is, some people prefer solo polyamory and are unwilling to strongly merge their identity or life infrastructure with their partners. Others simply happen to be effectively solo: they may desire (or be open to) primary-style relationships in the future, but they just don’t happen to have one at the moment.”
And just as seeing no one at all or having only one partner at any given time doesn’t automatically revoke someone’s polyamorous status in general, a solo polyamorist can identify that way even if they are seeing no one at all or just one person.
Can a Solo Poly Person Be a Nesting Partner?
So to answer your question, it’s fairly unusual for someone who practices solo polyamory to live with a partner. In fact, for a lot of solo polyamorists (but not all), that’s a key part of the identity – the fact that they live independently.
But you’ll note that both Gahran and I qualified it. She said that “generally” this is the case. I said that “many” solo polyamorists don’t share a home with partners.
There’s a reason for that. Because while it’s fairly unusual for a solo polyamorist to become someone’s nesting partner, it can and does happen occasionally. And if and when it does, it’s up to the solo poly person to decide whether want to continue to identify as solo or not.
To be fair, there’s a good case to be made that having a nesting partner doesn’t necessarily obliterate every difference between solo polyamory and your garden variety polyamory. It’s still possible to maintain a high degree of independence and autonomy regarding other forms of entanglement (not combining finances, not getting legally married to a partner, etc.) while cohabitating.
Not having nesting partners is simply one common aspect of solo polyamory. And while it can be an extremely important feature for some individuals who practice solo polyamory, for others it’s a less important part of the identity.
And there are also simply times when someone might need a place to live for logistical reasons on an emergent basis and a pressing need for survival might trump a need to abide by the conventions of one’s chosen relationship style.
These things happen.
That said, there’s some controversy surrounding that question, and if you asked it in a large forum, you’d likely get a mix of yes and no, based on how strongly the person answering the question considers living alone to be a defining aspect (even a requirement) of solo polyamory.
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My new book is out!
Dealing with Difficult Metamours, the first book devoted solely to metamour relationships, full of strategies to help you get along better with your partners’ other partner(s).