Polyamory. The word looks so simple. In terms of it’s Greek and Latin roots, it is. Poly means many, several, or pertaining to more than one. Amor means love, and is the basis for the words amour, amore, etc. in the Latin languages. (Think French, Italian, Spanish, and the like.) Polyamory, simply stated, means Many Loves, or Loving Many, or any other similarly cute and simple phrasing. As is oft the case in among those of us who live in the real world instead of in happy fantasy worlds, things are seldom so simple.
Polyamory (shortened to Poly) takes many forms, and may mean different things to different people. For some, being Poly may mean having a Husband/Wife or Boyfriend/Girlfriend while also having another Boyfriend/Girlfriend, or even two or more others. In these situations, the Couple in which the strongest, longest, or most established relationship exists is commonly referred to hold the Primary relationship, with each additional relationship serving as a Secondary, or even Tertiary, depending on the amount of time and energy devoted to each relationship.
As a common example, a Husband and Wife form the Primary Relationship. The Wife has a boyfriend she sees two – three times a week, and maybe stays with overnight one or two times a month. This is the Secondary relationship. It is no less important than the Primary, but it does consume less time and energy. It may be that Husband and Boyfriend are friends, and that sometimes all three engage in activities — be they romantic or otherwise — together, but not always. Each person is different and handles the interaction of multiple relationships differently.
Bear in mind that Polyamory can be cascading for everybody involved. The Husband and Wife scenario can include both Husband and Wife each having multiple Boyfriends/Girlfriends, each of whom may also have multiple relationships, each of whom… well, you get the picture. In some instances there may even be crossover, where one of the Husband’s girlfriends is also dating one of the Wife’s boyfriends. One can easily where a “bring your sweetie to the party” invitation in such a household can result in more guests than initially expected.
Another term bandied about is Triad. Most commonly this refers to one Male and two Females all inter-dating; that is, the Male has a Primary-level Relationship with each of the two Females, who also hold a Primary-level relationship with each other. This creates an interesting scenario where there are actually Four different relationships that must all be nourished and maintained. In addition to the three relationships of M-F1, M-F2, and F1-F2, there is an overarching relationship encompassing all three individuals together. In many Polyamorous circles this is considered to be one of the most advanced and difficult forms of Poly to maintain, as the level of communication, openness, honesty, and commitment is magnified, and very often one person can feel either ignored by or overruled by the other two people.
It should be noted, Quads also exist, although such groupings tend to occur less frequently and are less discussed. They include groups of four with only one male, groups with only one female, and two of each gender split, and may or may not include full inter-relationship status among all members. In a fully interconnected inter-dating Quad consisting of two men and two women, the number of active relationships jumps exponentially over those in a Triad. There would be M1-M2, M1-F1, M1-F2, M2-F1, M2-F2, F1-F2, the three resultant Triads, and the overarching Quad, for a total of TEN relationships to be nurtured by the four people involved. That’s an exorbitant amount of communication required to keep everybody feeling properly involved.
Among all of these relationships is, of course, sexual partnering. Generally, the Poly practitioners fall into two camps; those who are polyfidelitous and those who are not. Polyfidelity is the Polyamorous equivalent of monogamy. It is an agreement among a Poly-chain, Triad, Quad, etc that there will be no sexual activity outside the existing relationships. In Triads, this means that there may be sex between any two of the three individuals, or all three at the same time, but the only way a a fourth person joins in the fun is if one of the people in the Triad begins dating somebody new, which may very quickly lead to a Quad situation.
Complicated yet? What about when BDsM gets thrown into the mix? What about Swinging? Can either of those two work well with Polyamory? Do they already? In short, yes.
BDsM as a Lifestyle involves a lot of crossover with Polyamory, in which one person may be a Collared Slave to one person, but also be a Play Partner with one or more other people, or two people may both be considered Master of another person. Integrating BDsM into existing Polyamory relationships often involved playing to the strengths of each persons personalities. If there is a Triad consisting of one Dom/me, one sub/slave, and one Switch, then the Dom/me will often take control of the play or sex scenarios, the sub/slave will be on the receiving end, and the Switch can bounce back and forth between joining the Dom/me in controlling the sub/slave or also being controlled. Due to the very personal nature of Scene Play between Tops and Bottoms in BDsM, even if sexual energy is not involved the relationship between those involved becomes very caring, and may cross over into the more “vanilla” world of romance and sex.
In the Swinging Lifestyle, Polyamory is generally considered less conducive to the “it’s all about the sex” nature of the community. After all, falling in love with the person or couple you were only supposed to fuck senseless adds extra drama to the situation, or makes things uncomfortable. Or so the theory runs. But I believe differently. Often I read stories or hear tales from those who have been Swingers for a long period of time that they have preferred partners, favorite couples, couples with whom they’re also Vanilla Friends, etc. These preferences, favorites, and friendships develop out of some form of emotional connection. When those connections become so strong that two couples decide to become “exclusive” for a time, that’s a form of Polyamory. While the members of each couple may not recognize or be willing to admit the feelings of love developing for one or both members of the other couple, it was still a driving force behind wanting to be exclusive and become, in essence, a Poly Quad.
I believe that Polyamory, BDsM, and Swinging all function and interconnect along a continuum of human sexuality. All 3 operate and function best under the mandate that there be open, honest, and active communication among everybody involved. No secrets about partners, no secrets about plans, no hiding wants or desires from somebody else. In Poly, when one partner starts feeling something for somebody new, or is feeling left out of certain activities, or doesn’t feel that needs are being met, a conversation is held to address and resolve those things. In BDsM, when somebody wants to play with somebody new, or try a new toy, or be hooked up to a St. Andrew’s Cross to be flogged or whipped in front of a crowd, a conversation is held to address the best way to do that safely. In Swinging, when a person wants to fuck somebody new, or have a gangbang, or join an orgy, there’s a conversation about the best way to do that safely and still stay connected with one’s partner. At the root of it all is sexual expressiveness, honesty about one’s needs and desires, and good communication with one’s partners.
I am Polyamorous. Mrs. AbsinthePassion and I were in a Polyfidelitous Triad with her now Ex-Husband for over a year. We slept on the same bed, went out on dates as the three of us, or just her and him or her and me. We engaged in group sex, we engaged in separate sex. There was love all around.
I am into BDsM. I like bondage play; being tied or tying somebody else. I do not like sharp impact play, but soft impact play is exciting. I enjoy blindfolds. I love the creative outfits of leather and vinyl and rubber, and the chains and straps that can accompany those. I love the power exchanges between Top and Bottom, between Dom and sub. The release of letting somebody else control my pleasure is liberating. Having total control over somebody else’s pleasure is exhilarating.
I am a Swinger. I enjoy groupsex, and watching Mrs. AbsinthePassion being fucked while she goes down on me. I love the pure carnality of looking for somebody as a potential sex partner based purely on looks and cock size. I love the look of sheer animalistic pleasure that Mrs. AP gets when she has more than one cock at her disposal, and the way she can keep going bouncing between the two as one of us recovers.
I am not as experienced in any of these areas as I wish. My work schedule doesn’t allow me to join in the monthly Fetish Circuit events. I’ve only been to a swingers club once. The Poly Triad that I was in fell apart within a year due to several communication failures and a personality conflict. But as I grow and experience more of everything, as I learn how I fit in each of those cultures and how they sit within me, I will be sure to recap everything here and bring you all on the journey with me.
Stay SINful, friends.