Polyamory vs Open Relationship: Three’s a Party

Doublelist Team

July 20, 2023 11 minutes read
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There is more than one way to indulge in your sexual desires. You can have a lot of fun with one person, but why not add a second or even a third? Or what if you were married but remained active in the dating scene? If you’re exploring an alternative romantic relationship, you’ll need to weigh up the options of polyamory vs open relationship.

Polyamory and open relationships fall under the umbrella of consensually non-monogamous relationships. The key distinction lies in the emotional attachment level and the connections involved.

Polyamory emphasizes committed emotional ties with multiple partners, while open relationships prioritize sexual connections outside their monogamous partner. Choosing one depends on your needs, desires, and communication within your current relationship.

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Difference Between Open Relationship and Polyamory

There are a ton of differences between open relationships and polyamory. They both indeed involve non-monogamous relationships, but this is largely where the similarities stop.

Open relationships usually consist of a traditionally monogamous couple deciding to search for connections outside of their relationship consensually. This often involves dating in real life and going to bars to hook up together or separately. However, the new connection usually stops at sex and doesn’t become emotional.

On the other hand, polyamory goes beyond sexual exploration and focuses on forming deep emotional connections with multiple partners. The people in the relationships may have their primary partners and secondary partners around them. This creates a working hierarchy among partners.

What Is the Definition of Polyamory

So what is the definition of polyamory? Dictionary.com describes it as the practice of participating in more than one serious relationship with the consent of all partners. People often refer to the creation of interconnected polyamorous relationships as a polycule or a poly family. There’s an emphasis on ethical behavior, open communication, and intimate connections within the poly family.

The polyamorous relationship is a challenging concept for those outside of the non-monogamy world. The notion of individuals being able to form and maintain multiple intimate relationships simultaneously goes against traditional culture. But you shouldn’t just do whatever society tells you, should you?

People often misunderstand that polyamory is not simply about having sex with multiple partners. It’s about growing and fostering meaningful relationships, like a family. These relationships can be romantic, sexual, neither, or both.

What you need to know if you’re thinking about exploring polyamory is that communication is key. Honest and open communication, negotiation of boundaries, and fostering personal growth are central to polyamory. This way, it’s much more aligned with a family dynamic than discreet hookup culture.

If you’re embarking on your polyamory vs open relationship journey, be ready to get some looks from the public. But it can be a nurturing and loving environment that will help you grow.

What Is an Open Relationship

Now, what is an open relationship? Women’s Health defines it as a couple who engage in sexual interactions outside of their relationship.

In an open relationship, both partners have agreed to live a sexually non-monogamous lifestyle. They do this while keeping their marriage or relationship as their primary emotional relationship. This relationship remains a strong foundation, as it would in monogamous marriages.

Each couple will have different agreements and boundaries. Some couples will set hard emotional boundaries or limitations. For instance, in a hot wifing open relationship, the husband finds partners for his wife and enjoys her receiving pleasure. The hotwife will go out and have sex, then come home and share their experience with their partner. The husband can often sexually reclaim his wife if he’s dominant or not if he’s more submissive.

In this way, open relationships require immense honesty. There needs to be a strong foundation of trust in the relationship before embarking on an open relationship. The primary focus remains to strengthen the bond between the partners while allowing for sexual fulfilment and exploration beyond the relationship.


Polyamory vs Open Relationship: Polyamory

Before embarking on your polyamory vs open relationship journey, knowing it’s not all fun and games is important. Like any type of relationship, hurt feelings, high tensions, and significant problems can arise.

So now that you’ve got the lingo, it’s time to delve deeper into the pros and cons of each relationship style.

Polyamory vs Open Relationship: Pros of Polyamory

In a polyamorous relationship, you can form deep and intimate connections with multiple romantic partners. So unlike traditional monogamous relationships, polyamory fully embraces the idea of romantic love between more than one partner. More dates, more gifts, more flowers, more sex!

  • Open Communication: Polyamorous relationships thrive on open and honest communication. Being on top of everyone’s feelings helps you develop empathy and a deep understanding of others. You will feel more fulfilled as you can explore different aspects of yourself through various partners.

  • Emotional Support and Connection: In a polyamorous relationship, you can build deep emotional connections with multiple partners. This can provide a strong support system and a sense of belonging. Different partners may offer unique perspectives, advice, and comfort, enriching your emotional well-being.

  • Freedom from traditional relationships: Polyamory challenges the traditional concept of a primary and secondary partner, emphasizing equality among all partners involved. This egalitarian approach can foster a sense of fairness and reduce feelings of possessiveness or jealousy. Individuals have the freedom to form connections based on their desires and compatibility.

  • Expanded Support Networks: Polyamorous relationships can lead to the formation of larger networks of friends and lovers. You can use these networks for additional emotional support and diverse perspectives. You’ll also foster a strong sense of community through your poly relationships.

  • Heightened sex life: We’re here for the dirty talk. It’s pretty clear what the notion of polyamory brings to you. If you can foster a poly family where everyone is into everyone, then the potential for group sex is unlimited. The first thing that comes to mind is a threesome. Setting up and finding partners for a threesome can be hell on earth. But in a poly relationship, threesomes could become a nightly ritual.


Polyamory vs Open Relationship: Cons of Polyamory

In the question of polyamory vs open relationship, there is always going to be cons. As we know, it’s all fun and games until someone loses an eye. Polyamory is fun, but as we mentioned, it can also be a lot of work.

  • Complexity: The complexity of managing a monogamous relationship can be tricky. Add one, two, three, or more people to the mix. Feelings are flying around everywhere! You’ll need high emotional energy and time management to foster adjustment between couples.

  • Miscommunication: A deep relationship with multiple people can also lead to miscommunication. Picture this. You say something to one partner and the same thing with new details to another. Who’s going to get jealous here? Or if someone is left out of the loop completely, tensions will fray.

  • Jealousy and Insecurity: Open communication may not fully eliminate jealousy when a partner forms a deep connection or spends more time with others. Navigating these emotions requires self-reflection, empathy, and effective communication skills.

  • Societal Stigmas: Polyamorous individuals may face judgment, criticism, or discrimination. This can come from friends, family, or the broader community. This can add additional stress and strain on the relationships involved.

  • Logistics: Balancing schedules, commitments, and the emotional needs of multiple partners requires careful organization and time management. It can be emotionally and physically exhausting to maintain multiple deep connections simultaneously.

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Polyamory vs Open Relationship: Open Relationship

An open relationship involves partners participating in sexual or romantic connections outside of their primary relationship. While open relationships share some similarities with polyamory, there are distinct differences worth exploring. Before deciding on polyamory vs open relationship, read the below list. We’ve compiled the pros and cons of open relationships to see if it’s the right fit for you.

Polyamory vs Open Relationship: Pros of Open Relationships

In the battle of polyamory vs open relationships, open relationships offer many attractive benefits. Open relationships have everything from increased freedom to a stronger primary relationship!

  1. Increased Freedom and Autonomy: Open relationships provide you with the freedom to explore your desires freely. You can have sex with anyone you like and be your true self.

  2. Increased Sexual Satisfaction: This one is obvious. By exploring your sexual desires with multiple partners, you’ll unlock a world of endless pleasure and sexual liberation. This can be particularly beneficial if you have a high libido or varied sexual interests.

  3. Enhanced Communication Skills: Open relationships thrive on open and honest communication. Regular discussions about boundaries, expectations, and desires foster excellent communication skills that can strengthen relationships.

  4. Pushing Boundaries: You can customize open relationships to fit your unique needs and preferences. You’ll have flexibility and freedom in defining the relationship on their terms.

  5. Personal Development and Self-Awareness: Open relationships require you to reflect on your desires, boundaries, and insecurities. This introspection fosters personal growth, self-awareness, and a deeper understanding of your emotional needs and desires.

  6. Stronger Primary Partnership: Contrary to popular belief, open relationships can strengthen the bond between primary partners. You develop a stronger trust by being honest about your desire to explore connections outside the relationship. Your intimacy and emotional connection with your primary partner will also grow.


Polyamory vs Open Relationship: Cons of Open Relationships

Every relationship, whether monogamous or open, has its bumps in the road. Remember, these drawbacks may vary depending on you, your partner, and the type of relationship you two have. With that in mind, here are some of the cons worth considering before you leave a traditional relationship or marriage lifestyle.

  1. Jealousy and Insecurity: It’s obvious to say that open relationships can evoke feelings of jealousy and insecurity. But it’s true! Especially when one partner invests more time and energy into chasing other relationships than their primary relationship.

  2. Potential for Power Imbalances: There is a risk of power imbalances among partners. One partner may have more opportunities or success, while others struggle to find sexual meetups. This dynamic can lead to feelings of inequality, resentment, or being left out.

  3. Emotional Attachment and Falling in Love: While open relationships primarily focus on physical or casual encounters, emotional attachment and falling in love can still occur. This can complicate the dynamics within the primary relationship and lead to difficult choices and emotional turmoil.

  4. External Judgment and Stigma: Friends, family, or the broader community may not understand or accept your new relationship style. You may be socially isolated, criticized, or discriminated against.

  5. Uncertainty and Emotional Risks: When you start an open relationship, you enter the unknown. You may not know where your partner is or who they’re with. There’s also insecurity in putting yourself out there to find matches.

  6. Communication and Boundaries: Open relationships heavily rely on clear and effective communication. You’ll need strong boundaries and constant discussion to align with your desires.

While open relationships can provide freedom and exploration, you must carefully consider the cons before diving in.

Open Relationship vs Polyamory vs Swinging

Let’s add something else into the mix. What about open relationship vs polyamory vs swinging? You know about open relationships and polyamory, so let’s focus on swinging.

Swinging is a distinct practice within the consensual non-monogamy. It’s focused on having sexual experiences with people outside the marriage together or at the same time. You’ve heard the saying, put your keys in the bowl,’ well, this came from a common practice at swingers’ parties. At the end of a swinger’s party, the women would pick keys out of a bowl. Whoever’s key they pick, they go home with.

Swingers often participate in group sex or partner-swapping activities with other couples or individuals. This can happen at swingers’ parties or in a regular dating setting. While people can form emotional connections, open relationships and polyamory typically place less emphasis on them. Couples looking to explore their sexual boundaries together often see swinging as an alternative marriage experience.

Ultimately, the choice between polyamory, open relationships, swinging, or nothing at all can be challenging. Your outcome will depend on individual preferences, desires, and the level of emotional connection you seek in your relationship(s).

Polyamory vs Open Relationship: Sign Up to DoubleList

If you want to dive into consensual non-monogamy, DoubleList offers a welcoming platform to connect, learn, and grow. With a simple and user-friendly interface, signing up to DoubleList is quick and easy. Simply create an account and start browsing through the diverse community of individuals open to exploring non-traditional relationship styles.

Join DoubleList today and embark on an exciting personal and relationship exploration journey. Sign up now and expand your horizons on DoubleList!

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