Polyamory (from Greek πολύ [poly, meaning many or several] and Latin amor [love]) is the practice, desire, or acceptance of having more than one intimate relationship at a time with the knowledge and consent of everyone involved. Polyamory, often abbreviated as poly, is often described as consensual, ethical, or responsible non-monogamy. People who identify as polyamorous typically reject the view that sexual and relational exclusivity are necessary for deep, committed, long-term loving relationships. Those who are open to, or emotionally suited for, polyamory may embark on a polyamorous relationship when single or already in a monogamous or open relationship. Sex is not necessarily a primary focus in polyamorous relationships, which commonly consist of people seeking to build long-term relationships with more than one person on mutually agreeable grounds, with sex as only one aspect of their relationships.
In practice, polyamorous relationships are highly varied and individualized according to those participating. For many, such relationships are ideally built upon values of trust, loyalty, the negotiation of boundaries, and compersion, as well as overcoming jealousy, possessiveness, and the rejection of restrictive cultural standards. Powerful intimate bonding among three or more persons may occur. The skills and attitudes needed to manage polyamorous relationships add challenges that are not often found in the traditional "dating-and-marriage" model of long-term relationships. Polyamory may require a more fluid and flexible approach to love relationship, and yet operate on a complex system of boundaries or rules. Additionally, participants in a polyamorous relationship may not have, nor expect their partners to have, preconceptions as to the duration of the relationship, in contrast to monogamous marriages where a life-long union is generally the goal. However, polyamorous relationships can and do last many years.
Symbols of polyamory Although people who are polyamorous have adopted a number of symbols, none has universal recognition. The most common symbol is the red and white heart (♥) combined with the blue infinity symbol (∞). The Jim Evans poly pride flag. The poly pride flag consists of three equal horizontal colored stripes with a symbol in the center of the flag. The colors of the stripes, from top to bottom, are as follows: Blue - The openness and honesty among all partners. Red - Love and passion. Black - Solidarity with those who must hide their relationships due to social pressures. The symbol in the center of the flag is a gold Greek lowercase letter "pi" (π), as the first letter of "polyamory" . The letters gold color represents the value that people who are polyamorous place on the emotional attachment to others, be the relationship friendly or romantic in nature, as opposed to merely primarily physical relationships.
The symbol of ILIC (Infinite Love in Infinite Combinations) is a reference to the Star Trek kol-ut-shan or symbol of philosophy of Vulcan IDIC (Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations). It is a variation on Pi-and-the-three-colors from the Polyamory Pride Flag by Jim Evans. Like the flag, the colors are: blue, representing the openness and honesty among all partners with which people who are polyamorous conduct their multiple relationships; red, representing love and passion; and black, representing solidarity with those who, though they are open and honest with all participants of their relationships, must hide those relationships from the outside world due to societal pressures. A gold Greek lowercase letter "pi" (π), as the first letter of "polyamory", represents the value that people who are polyamorous place on the emotional attachment to others, be the relationship friendly or romantic in nature, as opposed to merely primarily physical relationships. The most common symbol that people who are polyamorous have adopted is the heart symbol combined with the infinity sign (∞) that the ILIC symbol also uses.
Another is the image of a parrot, since "Polly" is a common name for these birds. PolyOz states in its polyamory glossary that "The parrot is a common poly "mascot" or symbol. Punning on poly wanna X“. A 2003 article in The Guardian states "Today America has more than 100 poly email lists and support groups. Their emblem, which marks the table when they meet in restaurants, is the parrot (because of their nickname Polly).” Author Mystic Life describes this symbol an ironic reference to parrots monogamy. Joreth InnKeepers Purple Mobius. The Purple Mobius symbol was created to provide an abstract symbol for the poly community, which had some disagreements over the use of the heart/infinity, the parrot, and the pi-flag. It was intended to be a neutral symbol that referenced all the civil and social rights groups that came before, by alluding to the color and shape of related movements, such as the Gay Rights movement, the lesbian/feminist movement, the bisexual community, the BDSM community and of course, bisexual BDSM dating, as well as making a nodding reference to the heart/infinity symbol (the infinity symbol being another example of a Mobius Strip).
Forms of polyamory Forms of polyamory include: Polyfidelity, which involves multiple romantic relationships with sexual contact restricted to only specific partners in the group (which may include all members of that group) (e.g. group marriage). Sub-relationships, which distinguish between "primary" and "secondary" relationships (e.g. most open marriages). In 1906 H.G. Wells presented a defense of this sort of polyamory in a utopian novel entitled In the Days of the Comet. Three people romantically involved, often called a "triad relationship." (Commonly initiated by an established couple jointly dating a third person; however, there are many possible configurations.) Relationships between a couple and another couple (Quad). Polygamy (polygyny and polyandry), in which one person marries several spouses (who may or may not be married to, or have romantic relationships with, one another).
Group relationships, sometimes referred to as tribes, and group marriage, in which all consider themselves associated to one another, popularized to some extent by Robert A. Heinlein (in novels such as Stranger in a Strange Land, Time Enough for Love, Friday, and The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress). Also works by Robert Rimmer, and Starhawk in her books The Fifth Sacred Thing (1993) and Walking to Mercury (1997). A domestic partnership consisting of four people who are all married to each other features in Vonda N. McIntyres Starfarers series. Networks of interconnecting relationships, where a particular person may have relationships of varying degrees of importance with various people. Mono/poly relationships, where one partner is monogamous but agrees to the other having outside relationships. So-called "geometric" arrangements, which are described by the number of people involved and their relationship connections. Examples include "triads" and "quads", along with "V" (or "Vee") and "N" geometries. (See: Terminology within polyamory.)
Cultural diversity withinpolyamory "Polygamy" is more often used to refer to codified forms of multiple marriage (especially those with a traditional/religious basis), while "modern polyamory" or "egalitarian polyamory" implies a relationship defined by negotiation between its members, rather than by cultural norms. Egalitarian polyamory is culturally rooted in such concepts as choice and individuality, rather than in religious traditions. Egalitarian polyamory is more closely associated with values, subcultures and ideologies that favor individual freedoms and equality in sexual matters – most notably, those reflected by sexual freedom advocacy groups such as Woodhull Freedom Foundation & Federation, National Coalition for Sexual Freedom and American Civil Liberties Union. However, polygamy advocacy groups and activists and egalitarian polyamory advocacy groups and activists can and do work together cooperatively. In addition, the two sub-communities have many common issues (poly parenting, dealing with jealousy, legal and social discrimination, etc.), the discussion and resolution of which are of equal interest to both sub-communities, regardless of any cultural differences that may exist. Moreover, there is considerable cultural diversity within both sub-communities. Religiously motivated polygamy has its Islamic, Mormon fundamentalist, Christian Plural Marriage, Jewish and other varieties; similarly, some egalitarian polyamorists have cultural ties to Naturism, Neo- Pagans, BDSM, Modern Tantra, and other special interest groups. For example, egalitarian polyamory and BDSM often face similar challenges (e.g. negotiating the ground rules for unconventional relationships, or the question of coming out to family and friends), and the cross-pollination of ideas takes place between the two.
Legal status In most countries, it is legal for three or more people to form and share a sexual relationship (subject sometimes to laws against homosexuality). However, no Western countries permit marriage among more than two people. Nor do they give strong and equal legal protection (e.g., of rights relating to children) to non-married partners – the legal regime is not comparable to that applied to married couples. Individuals involved in polyamorous relationships are considered by the law to be no different from people who live together, or "date", under other circumstances. In many jurisdictions where lesbian and gay couples can access civil unions or registered partnerships, these are often intended as parallel institutions to that of heterosexual monogamous marriage. Accordingly, they include parallel entitlements, obligations, and limitations. Amongst the latter, as in the case of the New Zealand Civil Union Act 2005, there are parallel prohibitions on civil unions with more than one partner, which is considered bigamy, or dual marriage/civil union hybrids with more than one person. Both are banned under Sections 205-206 of the Crimes Act 1961. In jurisdictions where same-sex marriage proper exists, bigamous same-sex marriages fall under the same set of legal prohibitions as bigamous heterosexual marriages. As of yet, there is no case law applicable to these issues.
Bigamy is the act of marrying one person while already being married to another, and is legally prohibited in most countries where monogamy is the cultural norm. Some bigamy statutes are broad enough to potentially encompass polyamorous relationships involving cohabitation, even if none of the participants claim marriage to more than one partner. For instance, under Utah Code 76-7-101, "A person is guilty of bigamy when, knowing he has a husband or wife or knowing the other person has a husband or wife, the person purports to marry another person or cohabits with another person." Having multiple non-marital partners, even if married to one, is legal in most U.S. jurisdictions; at most it constitutes grounds for divorce if the spouse is non- consenting, or feels that the interest in a further partner has destabilized the marriage. In jurisdictions where civil unions or registered partnerships are recognized, the same principle applies to divorce in those contexts. There are exceptions to this: in North Carolina, a spouse can sue a third party for causing "loss of affection" in or "criminal conversation" (adultery) with their spouse, and more than twenty states in the US have laws against adultery although they are infrequently enforced. Some states were prompted to review their laws criminalizing consensual sexual activity in the wake of the Supreme Courts ruling in Lawrence v. Texas. Some social conservatives hold that the reading of Justice Kennedys opinion in Lawrence is that states may not constitutionally burden any private, consensual sexual activity between adults. Such a reading would throw laws against fornication, adultery, and even adult incest into question.
New Jerseys 2004 Domestic Partnership Act could in theory be used to legally connect more than two persons (albeit imperfectly), perhaps using a combination of marriage and domestic partnership. However, no case law in support of this theory yet exists. At present, the extension to multiple-partner relationships of laws that use a criterion similar to that adopted in the UK, i.e., "married or living together as married" remains largely untested. That is, it is not known whether these laws could treat some trios or larger groups as common-law marriages. If marriage is intended, most countries provide for both a religious marriage and a civil ceremony (sometimes combined). These recognize and formalize the relationship. Few Western countries give either religious or legal recognition – or permission – to marriages with three or more partners. While a recent case in the Netherlands was commonly read as demonstrating that Dutch law permitted multiple-partner civil unions, this belief is mistaken. The relationship in question was a samenlevingscontract, or "cohabitation contract", and not a registered partnership or marriage. The Netherlands law concerning registered partnerships provides that: A person may be involved in one only registered partnership with one other person whether of the same or of opposite sex at any one time. Persons who enter into a registered partnership may not at the same time be married. When a relationship ends, non-consensual infidelity ("cheating") is often grounds for an unfavorable divorce settlement, and infidelity generally could easily be seized upon as a prejudicial issue by an antagonistic partner.
Research Research into polyamory has been limited. A comprehensive government study of sexual attitudes, behaviors and relationships in Finland in 1992 (age 18-75, around 50% both genders) found that around 200 out of 2250 (8.9%) respondents "agreed or strongly agreed" with the statement "I could maintain several sexual relationships at the same time" and 8.2% indicated a relationship type "that best suits" at the present stage of life would involve multiple partners. By contrast, when asked about other relationships at the same time as a steady relationship, around 17% stated they had had other partners whilst in a steady relationship (50% no, 17% yes, 33% refused to answer). British artist Connie Rose was the first to create a film about polyamory consisting of interviews around the world including polamorys leading academics, authors and sex experts, including Dossie Easton (coauthor of The Ethical Slut) and Christopher Ryan (coauthor of Sex at Dawn). Roses film Questioning Monogamy was exhibited in London 2011 as an eight foot installation for 12 people to lay in with ten screens. The article, What Psychology Professionals Should Know About Polyamory, based on a paper presented at the 8th Annual Diversity Conference in March 1999 in Albany, New York states the following: While openly polyamorous relationships are relatively rare (Rubin, 1982), there are indications that private polyamorous arrangements within relationships are actually quite common. Blumstein and Schwartz (1983, cited in Rubin & Adams, 1986) noted that of 3,574 married couples in their sample, 15-28% had an understanding that allows nonmonogamy under some circumstances. The percentages are higher among cohabitating couples (28%), lesbian couples (29%) and gay male couples (65%) (p. 312).