Polyamorous Relationship Rules, Types And How It Work

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A polyamorous relationship is one in which the two romantic partners give each other the flexibility to get intimate with other people even while committing to each other. To make such a relationship work, the partners need to follow certain polyamorous relationship rules.

These rules set specific boundaries so that the relationship remains honest and transparent, and feelings such as jealousy and insecurity do not creep in. Read this post to learn the details of a polyamorous relationship, its types, and how it works.

What Is A Polyamory Relationship?

The word ‘polyamory’ is an amalgamation of the Greek word ‘poly’ referring to many and the Latin word ‘amor,’ which means love. Put together, the word polyamory means multiple love. In a polyamory relationship, a couple mutually decides to get involved with other people

Also known as an ‘open relationship,’ a polyamorous relationship is not seen as cheating since both partners know each other’s affairs and consent to it. It is a non-monogamous relationship where neither of the partners is expected to stay loyal in the relationship.

Types Of Polyamorous Relationships

There are different polyamorous relationships depending on the number of people involved and the nature of the relationship.

1. Vee

Resembling the shape of the letter ‘V,’ in this type of polyamorous relationship, one person dates two people who are not involved with each other.

2. Triad

In a triad, there are three people involved sexually in a relationship. For instance, a male-female couple can be involved with a male or female.

3. Quad

Here there are four people involved sexually with each other. For instance, if two couples get involved with each other, they become a quad.

4. Hierarchical polyamory

Also known as ‘one primary plus,’ one relationship is the primary focus of the two partners, while the other relationship will be secondary. For instance, a married couple lives together, shares finances, and makes joint decisions. Their open marriage will be their priority, while they can also see people outside their marriage.

5. Non-hierarchical polyamory

In this, partners do not prioritize a single relationship. Those involved are more concerned with their needs being fulfilled by the setup they are in. They all get an equal say in the relationship and also make decisions.

6. Kitchen table polyamory

This type of polyamory relationship involves hanging out with each other, which may or may not be romantic. Not all partners may be sexually involved, but they are comfortable enough to have meals together hence the name kitchen table polyamory.

7. Parallel polyamory

This is the opposite of kitchen table polyamory, where the people involved are not friendly with each other. For instance, Allen is married to Margaret, who is involved with Jamie. Allen and Jamie are aware of each other but do not interact. They are only concerned with their relationship with Margaret.

8. Solo-polyamory

Here a person has no priority except themselves. They are involved with several partners and do not have any priority relationship. This person has ‘no-strings attached’ relations and is only concerned with having their needs met, and is not interested in a serious relationship.

9. Mono-poly relationship

In this relationship, one partner follows monogamy and is loyal to the primary relationship, while the other partner follows a polyamorous relationship and is involved with other partners. This is not cheating because it happens with mutual consent.

How Do Polyamorous Relationships Work?

A polyamorous relationship is neither common nor a new concept. Non-monogamy has been prevalent in America since the 1800s where the Mormons maintained multiple partner relationships (2).

Polyamorous relationships are mostly adopted by people who choose not to stay loyal to one partner and do not wish to hurt them by cheating. It can work for people in long-distance relationships or those who have to travel frequently for work.

What works for a polyamorous relationship is honest and clear communication between two partners. If both consent to it and are willing to respect each other’s privacy and not cross boundaries, then it can keep them happy.

However, maintaining relationships with multiple partners may not be easy, especially if you have a primary relationship, as there are chances of jealousy, insecurity, suspiciousness, and distrust eventually souring your relationship.

The success of a polyamory relationship depends entirely on the people involved and how much they are willing to give and take while trusting each other.

9 Most Important Polyamorous Relationship Rules To Follow

Even polyamorous relationships have rules and restrictions to follow. However, rules vary for couples. Here are some of the common rules observed by polyamorous couples.

1. Consent of partner

A polyamorous relationship cannot be successful without your partner’s consent. Your partner has to approve of this setup. Doing anything without their consent is considered cheating.

2. Be clear of what you want

Before experimenting with polyamory, you and your partner need to be clear about what you want from the relationship and how much you are willing to give. Are your other relations limited to only the physical aspect, or will it involve more? You and your partner have to be clear with your needs and expectations of the relationship.

3. Always use protection

When you maintain sexual relations with multiple partners, you put yourself and your partner at risk of STDs. It also risks unplanned pregnancy. Hence, using protection is an absolute must, no matter whom you are getting intimate with.

4. Establish clear boundaries

Having two or more partners can be a cause of jealousy for you and your partner. To avoid this, make it clear how much information you and your partner are interested in. You can give a code word to indicate your meeting with the other person. There is no need to get into details of your experience with the secondary partner as it can give rise to insecurity.

5. Pay attention to your partner

Getting involved with other people does not mean you can neglect your partner. Maintaining your relationship with your partner is also important. You have to make time for them and make them feel loved as you would in a normal relationship.

6. Keep distance from each other’s partners

There will be instances when you will be curious about who your partner is with. Even if you learn about them, it is best to refrain from judging them or passing any unwanted comments. Maintaining distance from your partner’s personal affairs is of utmost importance in a polyamory setup.

7. Do not force yourself to see someone else

You may be fine with your partner having other intimate partners, but that does not mean you must have your share of experiments with others too. Do not try to compete with your partner. If you do not want this for yourself, then stay away from it.

8. Have clear communication

If at any moment you are not comfortable or unhappy with the polyamorous relationship, you need to convey the same to your partner. Ensure that communication between your partner and you is open and honest. There should be no hesitation when expressing your feelings for each other.

9. Do not take things personally

You may have consented to polyamory to make your partner happy but do not think they are in this because you lack in any way. In fact, most of the time, it has nothing to do with you but your partner’s personal choice of living their life. So, do not feel bad if your partner does not believe in monogamy.

Polyamory relationships are not for everyone. Also, rules for polyamory vary for every couple. And sticking to these rules is essential if you want a long and happy relationship. It is best suited for people who do not believe in monogamy and need multiple partners to be happy in life.

Key Pointers

  • A polyamorous relationship differs from monogamy, wherein you could be romantically involved with more than one partner with the consent of each of your partners.
  • With the complexities of this relationship, you have to follow certain rules like maintaining clear boundaries to make it work.
  • Besides, knowing the basics will help you maintain a healthy, long-lasting polyamorous relationship.


MomJunction's articles are written after analyzing the research works of expert authors and institutions. Our references consist of resources established by authorities in their respective fields. You can learn more about the authenticity of the information we present in our editorial policy.
  1. E Cook; Commitment in Polyamorous Relationships; (2005); Regis University
  2. Polygamy; American Law and Legal Information Free Legal Encyclopedia
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Lisa J. Hill

(Registered Nurse Therapist )
Lisa J. Hill is a Registered Nurse Therapist having a private practice in Christchurch, New Zealand. She specializes in working with adults, particularly during life transitions and emotional crises such as parenthood, but also sees adolescents and is branching into using Emotionally Focussed Therapy with couples. In addition, she is a specialist Alcohol and Drug Practitioner. Her multi-modal approach to... more

Ratika Pai

Ratika has experience writing in various fields including finance, education, lifestyle, and entertainment. After her masters degree in Commerce, she acquired a PG Diploma in Communication and Journalism from Mumbai University. She is inquisitive about human relationships and likes to study people and how they manage their relationships, during her freetime. At MomJunction, Ratika writes insightful and informative articles on... more