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More like guidelines and a lot less like definitions.


A type of relationship where a person consensually can have many relationships with different people. This is a form of Ethical Non-Monogamy. There is a wide spectrum of different connections that polyamorous people may have with their partners but they often contain ongoing or "committed" relationships.

The origin of the word comes from Ancient Greek πολλοί (polloí) 'many', and Latin amor 'love' (source). Also referred to as "poly" or "polyam", however, there is an ongoing discussion about which abbreviation is appropriate as Poly is often used by people from Polynesia (source) & (source).

Polyamory is not a "one way" to have a relationship, it is an open framework where people will make agreements and consent to the way people conduct themselves and have relationships with each-other and with others.

People that are polyamorous will often talk in shorthand about what their preferred style is, like: "anarchistic solo-polyam", "kitchen table closed quad" or "mono-poly with a nesting partner". This kind of shorthand is however no replacement for communicating the often intricate agreements people have with different partners and how that is applied in practice.

Common terms:

  • Polycule: A group of people that are connected with one another through their own relationships and the relationships of their partners and potentially to degrees of separation beyond that. Can be seen as a chosen family group.
  • Metamour: The partner of your partner that you do not have a relationship with.
  • Poly Saturated: A state where a person or polycule does not have more practical space and/or time to have a relationship with more people.
  • New Relationship Energy: (NRE) )A term to describe when a person is engaging in a new relationship and the additional heightened emotional state and hyperfocus that a new interest can bring. This energy can be intense as people get to know each other but is usually temporary.

Common shapes:

  • Triad: A polycule of 3 people where all people have relationships with one another.
  • Quad: A polycule of 4 people that have relationships between them in a way that connects all of them via each other.
  • Vee: Also called a "pivot". A person that has two relationships with people that do not have a relationship with one another.
  • Solo: A person that is likely to live on their own and maintains multiple relationships without a hierarchy between them.

Common agreements/styles:

  • Hierarchical: A group of people that have relationships between them, but where some relationships are considered "primary" and others are placed in a potential ranking of importance. Often the primary partners are cohabitating and the "secondary" are guests.
  • Non-hierarchical: The agreement that within the relationships there should not be a pre-defined order of priority, but coexistence is achieved between everyone in the polycule so that everyone's needs are met in the best possible way.
  • Anchor Partners: An alternative to "primary" and sometimes also defined as "Nesting partners" where the hierarchical part is dropped, but the practical side of people cohabitating is considered. Also due to the cohabitation these people will sometimes fall back onto each-other for initial support.
  • Kitchen-Table Poly: An agreement where all members of the polycule ideally would come together comfortably and are able to interact about their relationships, their needs, concerns and emotions. Collectively making decisions that would impact the polycule.
  • Parallel Poly: An agreement where metamours do not interact with one another, but are aware of each other's presence. Any concerns, needs or emotions are managed by the shared partner and not by the metamours. Commonly something that happens in "Vee"-style relationships, but also common for solo-polyamorous people.
  • Polyfidelity: An agreement within the polycule that people will not look for new romantic or sexual connections outside of the current polycule. This is also sometimes considered a "close" polycule and can be happen when polysaturation has been reached by the members of the polycule.
  • Relationship Anarchy: A form where the agreement is that all participants are free to engage in romantic or sexual relationships with people without defined rules. They are free to explore and evolve the relationships as they change. The connection between people is rooted in the trust that people will take care of their own needs, take care of their relationships and will make sure that polysaturation will not cause an issue with existing connections.
  • Mono-poly: Identifying that one or more people in the relationship is monogamous towards their partner, but their partner is polyamorous with consent of the monogamous partner.
  • Poly-Asexual Not all relationships are based on sexual or romantic contact. A partner relationship with no desire for sex with other people may still want the capacity to share their partner with others.


Even though there are plenty of options to engage romantically and sexually with people, cheating is still possible within polyamory. Agreements made between people in polyamorous relationships can still be broken depending on the relationship this could include things like Fluid bonding without consent of other people in a relationship or not disclosing a new partner.

Relationship solution

In some cases people in a monogamous or open relationship will try polyamory as a way to "save" the relationship. However many will find that polyamory is not a solution and will only highlight potential problems even more. Communication is key and within polyamorous relationships partners are often having to do a lot more work to communicate and make sure people are all on the same page.

Additional suggested reading

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