Here are some of the questions I have had to date about polyamory and some of my provisional answers. I am very much learning with the people I am supporting in their journeys. Feel free to email me your questions (and answers if you have them).
Q: If sex is present and the type of poly is ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’, what’s the difference between poly and open relationships?
A: I’m still getting clear on this but my current understanding is that polyamory, by its very definition, is centred on love whereas open relationships are physically open but emotionally closed. Those I have spoken with in open relationships more commonly speak of being emotionally faithful to their primary partner (“my heart belongs to him and him alone”) while having sexual freedom to explore with others whereas poly people can potentially develop both physical and emotional intimacy with multiple people.
Q: What happens when the relationships aren’t equal eg where there is a ‘primary relationship’ and ‘secondary relationships’ or ‘comets’ (as they’re sometimes known)? Is it still poly when there’s a primary relationship eg marriage between two of the people?
A: There seems to be a split in the poly community about this as some strongly disagree with the idea of a primary relationship, feeling this is disrespectful to those who are more recent connections. There still seems to be a general consensus that it is ‘poly’, just an unease about the language…
Q: Imagine Jill who lives with her long term partner Bill but they no longer have sex. Jill has a close girl friend Samantha who she loves dearly. Is this polyamory, or does there have to be a bond through sex? How do we differentiate between intimate platonic relationship and poly if sex is not present?
A: Still looking for an answer! Any considered input on this welcome…
Q: What does the term metamour mean, as used by the poly community?
A: According to wiktionary, metamours is a “rare” term that is used in the context of a polyamorous relationship that refers to one’s partner’s partner, someone with whom one is not directly involved.
Q: Is polyamory a choice or a predisposition, a way people are ‘wired’?
A: There is a degree of division of opinion on this one however many of those I have spoken with do feel they are wired this way and it was obvious back at the beginning of the development of their sexuality. Given this, I am tending to see this community as one who is marginalised and discriminated against as the dominant culture is one of monogamy [Interestingly, monogamy is the minority relationship style around the world with cultural estimates suggesting that as many as 83% of societies around the world allow polygamy ( Hogenboom, 2016).]