Loving more than one person, what exactly is polyamory?

In polyamory, a person loves several people at the same time. This can be in the area of love, sex or friendship. In general, there is quite a taboo on polyamory and people do not like to progress there. There are several forms of polyamory possible, but they all revolve around respect, honesty, openness and love.


  • Poly = many or more
  • Amor = love

Polyamory is often written in English: Polyamory . In polyamory, one person has multiple relationships at the same time. These relationships can be based on love, friendship, intimacy, spirituality or sex. People who enjoy this way of life are called polyamorous or polyamorous . This is usually abbreviated to ” poly “.

Polys enjoy the freedom of being able to start or maintain another relationship in addition to their “basic” relationship. However, this is not cheating because both partners agree to this lifestyle. It is important that the partners interact flexibly with each other and allow each other freedom to build a good relationship together. A person who has multiple partners loves all his or her loved ones equally. It can be seen as in a family with several children, the parents love all their children equally. It is often thought that polys move from one partner to another for their adventures. This is absolutely not true, just like monogamous couples, they can have a long-term relationship with each other and are faithful to each other. This is called polyfidelity .

Many different shapes

Having multiple relationships can be done in different ways. There are many variants possible within polyamory. This is easiest to represent using lines and arcs.
A few examples:

  • Δ : A love triangle. All three people know each other and also have an (intimate) relationship with each other (all lines are connected). In some cases these people live together in one house.
  • Q: One person is in a relationship with two different partners. These two partners have no relationship with each other, but they do know about each other’s existence.
  • ⁄ : Four people are in a relationship with each other (all lines are connected). And they can also live together if necessary.
  • U: Two couples (the side lines) connected by another couple (the bottom arc).
  • O: Four couples connected to each other.

It does not necessarily mean that all relationships within, for example a 3/4 ratio, are the same. It is entirely possible for two people to have a sexual relationship with each other, a third to have an intimate relationship and the fourth person to all maintain a strong friendly relationship with the people involved.

There are many other relationships possible in all conceivable forms and connections. The letters and symbols are used to explain how a relationship can be built. It is not the case that a couple has a ‘U’ relationship. However, a love triangle is a well-known concept.


People who love polyamory are very open in their relationships and keep no secrets from each other. The basis is therefore love, openness, honesty and respect. Communication is important in any relationship, but in polyamory it is even more important.


It may be incomprehensible to many people, but poly people can really enjoy seeing their partner (or one of their partners) together with another loved one. It does them good to see their own partner happy. Actually, the feeling of jealousy can best be described as the opposite of jealousy.


It is often thought that people who love polyamory are also automatically bisexual. This is not true, there are many polys that are only into men or only into women. All forms are possible, heterosexual, homosexual and bisexual.

Not without danger to a good relationship

A relationship can also suffer from polyamory due to jealousy or fear, for example. If someone thinks that the third person gets more attention, in some cases (morbid) jealousy can arise. Separation anxiety can also occur if a person thinks the “third party” is a better partner. This can make a significant dent in a relationship, no matter how good it is. It can also go wrong if someone is actually monogamous, but pretends to be polyamorous in order to get multiple partners into bed.


In Western society it has been decided that monogamy (loyalty to one permanent partner) is normal. Polyamory is therefore poorly accepted, and the church does not allow this lifestyle. People see it as abnormal and unfaithful, which is why many poly people do not dare to express their lifestyle. They fear being abandoned by family and friends.

No polygamy

Poly = many or more. Gamos = marriage
Polyamory should not be confused with polygamy or bigamy , which are different. In polygamy, one person marries multiple partners. For example, one man with multiple wives, this is called polygyny . A rare form of polygamy is polyandry , in which one woman is married to multiple men. If there is only a second marriage partner, it is called bigamy .

In many countries, polygamy is a right and not all partners will get along equally well. One must “simply” accept it because it is permitted by law. On the other hand, some polys will have a wish come true if they were allowed to marry each other because they genuinely love each other. In the Netherlands, both polygamy and bigamy are not allowed and can even be punished with a prison sentence of several years.

Source: Own work, Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA-2.0)


Polyamory has its own symbol: A heart with an infinity sign.

Some people actually like to admit that they love this lifestyle. They carry this sign with them through a piece of jewelry or tattoo in order to be recognized by other proponents.