Polyamory is about honest and open relationships between more than two people.
'Polyamory' is a hybrid word: 'poly' is Greek for 'many' (or 'more than one') and 'amor' is Latin for 'love'. The words 'polyamory' and 'polyamorous' are both often shortened to 'poly'.
Polyamorous people (also known as 'polyamorists') have the capacity or desire to have multiple sexual or romantic relationships. 'Relationship' can mean a life long connection, living together and sharing finances, children etc. 'Relationship' may also mean more casual connections, such as play partners.
Why would you find polyamorous people at BiCon?
There is a large crossover between the poly and bi communities, and quite a few people at BiCon are polyamorous. If you are bisexual you don't have to be polyamorous many bisexuals are monogamous. By the same token, not all poly folk are bisexual.
Frequently asked questions about polyamory
Is polyamory like cheating or 'don't ask, don't tell'?
No, the difference is that in Poly relationships all parties know what is going on.
Honesty and openness in relationships for poly people. Some poly people like to share a lot of information, some less. What's important is that everyone can give informed consent and aim to make sure everyone is happy and know where they stand.
How can you love more than one person? People who are Poly reject the idea that dividing love among more than one partner lessens it. A common argument uses an analogy with a parent who has two children – the parent does not love either child any less because of the existence of the other.
What about jealousy?
Just like monogamous people, poly people can feel jealousy. It is important to recognise it when it occurs and communicate about what to do about it. Sometimes it can be worked around by avoiding situations where it is problematic. Sometimes with care and time it can hurt less and not seem so important. For some poly people jealousy is a big issue, for others it hardly ever comes up. Seeing their partner getting on well with another partner makes some poly people happy, which is known as 'compersion'.
Is polyamory the same as swinging?
No. Polyamory tends to focus on relationships, including sex but including other aspects too. Swinging tends to focus more on recreational sex and friendship. Some poly people distinguish themselves carefully from swingers, others identify as both.
Is everyone in a group sleeping with everyone else?
In some poly relationships, all of the adults are intimate with all of the others. In other poly groups they are not. Some poly people enjoy sexual time in groups, others have private time with each lover, and some poly people do both.
What about children?
Some poly families bring up children in an extended family where they can get more attention from adults and the adults can share the work and joy. Some poly people with children have multiple relationships with other adults while the children are cared for by their parents only. Some poly groups are child-free.
Commonly used words
What is 'polyfidelity'?
'Polyfidelity' (often shorted to 'polyfi') refers to a group of poly people who share relationships and who do not begin new sexual or romantic relationships outside of that group unless everyone in the group decides to change that.
What does 'ethical non-monogamy' mean?
'Non-monogamy' is a blanket term covering different types of relationship in which some or all participants have multiple sexual and/or romantic partners. 'Ethical non-monogamy' is about practising non-monogamy in an open and honest way.
What do you mean by an 'open relationship'?
An 'open relationship' is a form of non-monogamy where the people involved in a relationship may have sexual or romantic relationships and/or encounters with other people outside of that relationship. Polyamorous people may consider themselves to be in an open relationship, as may swingers.
What do you mean by a 'Closed relationship'?
A closed relationship is one where all parties have agreed not to have sexual or romantic encounters outside of the existing relationship. Some poly relationships are closed.
What are 'triads' and 'quads'?
A 'triad' refers to a group of three polyamorous people who are all involved with one another – the people in that group may be polyfidelous or may be open to relationships with other people. Similarly, a 'quad' refers to a group of four polyamorous people who are all involved with one another.
What is a 'metamour'?
'Metamour' is a word used to refer to your partner's partner.
Why do some poly people call themselves 'sluts'?
Good question. 'Slut' is a generally pejorative term but poly people have reclaimed it and for them it has positive connotations. In the words of Dossie Easton and Catherine A Liszt (the authors of The Ethical Slut) 'a slut is a person of any gender who has the courage to lead life according to the radical proposition that sex is nice and pleasure is good for you.'
Where to find out more about polyamory at BiCon
At BiCon there will be sessions talking about polyamory for people new to the idea or wanting to know more, see the programme guide for sessions and meet ups appropriate for you.