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Polyamory is the idea that romantic/domestic partnerships can involve more than two people. Unlike swingers, who are generally looking for sexual thrills outside of marriage, "polys" form long-lasting relationships and family units based on partnerships and shared intimacy between several people, sometimes but not necessarily involving folks with sexual orientations greater than zero on the Kinsey scale.

Like the spectra of sexual orientations and gender identities, polyamory comes in many forms and levels of intensity, such as "monogamish", "solopoly", "coupling up" and "relationship anarchy", and each polyamorous relationship is ultimately defined by its participants. Unlike sexual orientation/gender identity, polyamory is a conscious lifestyle choice, although there are those that would argue that polyamory is natural and monogamy is the choice.[citation needed]


[edit] Shared traits among the polyamorous

While there are really no stereotypes of a typical polyamorous person (sometimes shortened to "poly person") beyond the possibility that they might practice a pagan religion such as Wicca, there are often similar traits among those in the lifestyle:

  • First of all, calling what they practice "the lifestyle"
  • Using terms such as "primary" or "secondary" to describe their partners, if they are in a couple-centric relationship
  • Using the term "paramour" to refer to their partner(s) (instead of "wife", "boyfriend", "lover", etc.), and the term "metamour" to refer to their partner's partner
  • Using the term "compersion" as the polar opposite of "jealousy" in the context of a relationship
  • Recommending the books Sex at Dawn, The Ethical Slut or Robert A. Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land
  • An appreciation for the movie Bandits

[edit] Helen Fisher

In her book, Why We Love, anthropologist Helen Fisher notes that romantic love has a certain insane, over-the-top aspect about it, above and beyond what would be considered "strictly necessary" (from, say, an evolutionary or biological viewpoint). Richard Dawkins summarizes her argument in his book, The God Delusion (the summary of which is also quoted in the book Sex at Dawn):

Rather than the fanatically monogamous devotion to which we are susceptible, some sort of 'polyamory' is on the face of it more rational....We happily accept that we can love more than one child, parent, sibling, teacher, friend or pet. When you think of it like that, isn't the total exclusiveness that we expect of spousal love positively weird?

[edit] Etymological pedantry

Technically speaking, "poly-" is a Greek word and "amor-" is Latin. So a properly formed pseudo-correct English word to describe this concept would be "multiamory" or "polyphilia".

[edit] See also

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