Polyamory refers to having more than one romantic relationship at the same time—with everyone involved aware of, and in agreement with, the situation. There are endless permutations. Polyamory could be a woman living with two men and enjoying a sexual relationship with both of them, or a man with two women. It could even be a married couple who have opened their relationship to hetero-, homo-, or bisexual relationships that do not challenge the marriage bond—or more.
Though is polyamory ever a good idea? As to whether polyamory can be a good thing, the key issue is consent. You might think that polyamory would be great for you, but that doesn’t mean much unless you can find like-minded souls who are interested in forming the same sort of relationship. If you are already in a relationship with someone you love, and you feel like opening it up to new encounters, by all means have that conversation. BUT! Be aware that your loved one may not feel the same way as you do, and that under no circumstances would it ever be appropriate to coerce or bully someone into engaging in a polyamorous relationship if they don’t want to.
Similarly, every party to a polyamorous relationship needs to accept that while it might work well for a while, there may come a time when one or more of the people involved realise that it is not right for them anymore. When that happens, another conversation is called for. Break-ups are always hard, and that’s the same in polyamorous situations as in any other—and because more than two people are involved, it is especially important to be respectful and considerate during the uncoupling process.
Thought also needs to be given to the children of people involved in the relationship, if any. Assuming that all their needs are catered for, their parents will need to decide how to discuss the relationship with them in a way that they can understand.
Sexual health is important in any relationship, and obviously the more people involved in a sexual relationship, the more opportunities for STIs to enter the equation. Before embarking on a polyamorous relationship, it’s important for everyone to know their sexual health status, and to obtain treatment, if necessary, for any conditions they might have. Again, openness, consent and communication are vitally important. If anyone involved in the polyamorous relationship has a sexual encounter with someone whose status is unknown, the onus is on them to ensure that they are protected and safe, as they could potentially be threatening the health of a number of people, not just themselves.
The jury is out on the number of people out there who can successfully sustain a polyamorous relationship. However to answer the question of if polyamory is ever a good idea, for some it is certainly a viable arrangement, and so long as everyone involved is treated with respect, care, and love, it can provide a nurturing environment.
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