How much do you know about polyamory?


By: Staff

4 Min Quiz

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About This Quiz

Is it really possible to love more than one person? People who practice polyamory think so. Find out how much you know about relationships that break the monogamy barrier.

What is polyamory?

You may have been able to guess this one from the roots of the word polyamory. "Poly" means many, and "amory" refers to love, so polyamory is the state of having multiple romantic relationships. Honesty is a core tenet of polyamory, so all of a polyamorist's lovers know about each other.


How does polyamory differ from swinging?

While some polyamorists may enjoy recreational sex like swingers do, the polyamory lifestyle is more about numerous romantic relationships than about lots of random sex partners.


Wait, multiple romantic relationships? Don't people get jealous when their significant other falls in love with someone else?

Polyamorists aren't immune to jealousy, but they see it as an obstacle to be overcome. Often, when a polyamorous person feels jealous about something a partner is doing, they'll talk with their partner about how they're feeling and figure out how the emotion can be addressed.


Isn't this just cheating with a fancy name?

Polyamorists definitely aren't sex addicts -- they simply believe that monogamy doesn't work. Rather than keeping secrets and sneaking around, they work out a system of rules and boundaries with their partners, so that everyone can get their needs met without damaging a relationship.


What is the typical polyamorous set-up?

There are about as many different ways to be polyamorous as there are people who are polyamorous. There's no limit on how many people might be involved or what level of commitment they might have with various partners.


What author wrote extensively about polyamory in his books, bringing the idea of group marriage to the mainstream?

Robert Heinlein featured group marriage in several of his books, including "Stranger in a Strange Land" and "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress."


What is the polyamory mantra?

There's a lot of talking in polyamorous relationships -- so anyone interested in this type of lifestyle has to be ready to communicate, communicate, communicate.


What is compersion?

In polyamory lingo, compersion is the opposite of jealousy. Rather than being upset that someone you love has found love with someone else, you're happy that he or she is happy.


Which community does polyamory most closely resemble?

Polyamory doesn't much resemble polygamy, in which one man takes on many wives. The genders have equal opportunity in polyamory, and the practice most closely resembles the Oneida commune in upstate New York. In this commune, Yale theologian John Humphrey Noyes proclaimed everyone was married to everyone else.


A potential new boyfriend presents you -- a polyamorous female -- a spreadsheet of all his past sexual partners, including descriptions of sexual acts performed and whether condoms were used. What is your reaction?

When you're having sex with multiple people, STDs are a concern. Many polyamorous people require their partners to disclose their entire sexual histories and to get tested for STDs regularly.


What is hierarchal polyamory?

Some people have one main relationship, or a primary partner, and maintain other secondary or tertiary partners on the side. Some polyamorists don't believe in this type of system, in which partners are ranked, but for some people, it's a useful way to organize time and attention.


What do most polyamorists say takes up a good deal of their time?

Open up your calendar, everyone -- most polyamorists say the key to relationship success is scheduling to ensure that everyone feels satisfied in their unions.


What is a vee?

A vee is a kind of relationship between three people, in which one person sees two other people, but those two people aren't involved with each other. The person seeing both people is the hinge of the vee.


Why is the case of April Divilbiss important to polyamorists?

In 1999, the minor child of April Divilbiss was removed from her custody by a judge due to the mother's polyamorous lifestyle. Though child advocates deemed the child's home to be healthy and happy, the judge spoke publicly about disagreeing with the polyamorous lifestyle. For this reason, many polyamorists with children don't speak about their lifestyle in public.


Does having parents who practice polyamory harm children?

A researcher at Georgia State University is studying polyamory's effects on children. So far, her research indicates that polyamory doesn't harm or influence the children's future behavior in any way. In fact, it may turn out to be beneficial, as children have multiple adults in their lives who can help them as they grow.


If a polyamorist is talking about "spice," what is he or she most likely talking about?

In polyamory lingo, spice is the plural of "spouse," so a woman talking about her spice is referring to the people she considers herself married to.


What happens if you don't like one of your partner's new romantic interests?

Most polyamorous relationships have the option of veto power if one partner doesn't like a prospective new partner. Veto power isn't to be exercised lightly, or due to reasons of jealousy or petty envy. Rather, polyamorists believe it should be used when there's a genuine issue with the person in question.


Why is a parrot one of the symbols for polyamory?

Polly want another partner? Polyamory is often called poly, and for that reason you'll often see parrots on Web sites about the lifestyle.


Do polyamorous people get married?

Polyamorous people may get married, but only to one other person (and only to a person of the opposite gender, depending on location). However, many polyamorous people consider themselves married to all of their partners. Currently, polyamorous people aren't pushing for marriage rights.


Would polyamory work for everyone?

Live and let live -- some people thrive with polyamory, and some people do just fine with monogamy.


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