As many as five percent of couples are going outside of their primary relationships in pursuit of love and sex elsewhere, AND their partner knows about it! It’s called polyamory, meaning “multiple lovers.”
It’s a relationship style where the couple is agreeing to have outside relationships, which might leave a lot of diehard monogamous with a lot of feelings right in the middle of their chest. How do they do that? Isn’t that cheating? What about jealousy? So many questions!
Polyamory is all about multiple committed relationships where everyone involved is informed and everyone’s boundaries are understood and respected. The relationships under the polyamory banner are diverse: a polyamorous couple might agree to have another relationship but you don’t sleep at their house, or another arrangement heard of is “no sex in our space or in our home.” It’s not cheating because everyone is informed and it’s not swinging because it’s a relationship, not just sex. The cornerstones that keep this together are honesty, openness, and communication. These couples are talking a lot. They are negotiating; they are putting how they feel openly on the table for discussion and for reflection.
Researchers at the University of Michigan looking into polyamory found that polyamorous are far more communicative and enthusiastic about emotional honesty than monogamous counterparts and they suggest that there is something for the other 96 percent to learn here.
One of the main questions that come up about polyamory is how people keep the “green eye monster” at bay. In a monogamous relationship, if someone admitted to finding love elsewhere, it is the end of the world—anger, jealousy, and pain. In a polyamorous relationship, this discovery is positive. Just like you might be excited for a friend who got a job they wanted, polyamorous find joy in their partner’s new found happiness.
This is a phenomenon that challenges what many people think they know about jealousy, but it’s not to say that jealousy never happens. It does. It’s just openly discussed between the pair, or trio of people to then set boundaries that are comfortable for everybody. So, who are these people? The data that exist demonstrates polyamorous hold more Masters and Doctoral degrees than the average population. They are well educated although they are not particularly wealthy.