What is polyamory?

The word polyamory has become very popular lately.  

Literally, "poly-" means "multiple" and "-amory" means "love".  

My focus is working with people who have or want multiple intimate relationships in their lives. Whether that involves love and/or sex is up to the people involved.  

I'm using the term "polyamory" as a catch-all name for the ways many of us are exploring intimacy and relationships off the traditional map.  As a culture, we are still finding the words to adequately describe what we're doing.  If the word evokes a definition or stereotype that doesn't match your experience, substitute it for what works for you: ethical non-monogamy, open relationships, modern dating, tribe building, etc. 

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Most of us were brought up with the storyline of a proscribed future: meet your one true love, marry that person, have babies, stay together until death. Don't express an interest in anyone else, because your one true love should fulfill every need. Don't have close friendships with people of the same gender as your spouse, because that could lead to temptation.  Buy the house with the picket fence and be self-sufficient.

There are so many assumptions in this narrative -- assumptions that exclude people of different gender, orientation, class, who choose a child-free life or who haven't found "the one" yet.  But there are also assumptions that affect those who are fortunate enough to find one person they want to grow old with, and find themselves riding the traditional relationship escalator to a life of predictable, don't-rock-the-boat mundaneness.  We live longer these days, and our success rate with marriage isn't great.  It's good and natural to look at ways to stay alive and excited about life, including creative ways to structure your relationships.

Yes, sex is one piece of this - but we're also talking about intimacy, friendship, interdependence and community. It includes whether we're allowed to explore personal interests outside of partnership, and whether we have the space to grow and change as a person. It's the ability to have intimate connections with people that bring out the different sides of ourselves.


Poly isn't about one alternative to monogamy -- it's about there being a LOT more options than we've been shown.  And even within monogamy, there are so many nuances and growth opportunities within that relationship, if we're able to embrace the uncertainty of being living, changing individuals within a committed relationship. We just need to develop the skills to navigate all of this responsibly.

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What if the person you want to build a home and a family with isn't the same type of person that turns you on sexually?

What if you are single and want to have a healthy sex life, without committing to someone who isn't right for you?

What if you want a group of friends who know each other and support each other just as deeply as spouses would?

What if you're married and monogamous, and start feeling strongly attracted to one of your friends?  

What if during marriage you realize you've always been bisexual or transgender, and you can't imagine dying without truly experiencing these different aspects of yourself?

It's not about poly being one specific thing, or poly being better than something else.  It means we already face these situations. Let's just talk about it and make conscious decisions.  My goal is to help you sort through it, see your blind spots, and move forward well-informed.