Polycule Guide – Is Monogamy Just Not For You?

Doublelist Team

May 7, 2023 9 minutes read
Connect with straight, gay, bi and curious!

Staying faithful to your lover has always been regarded as a sacred promise. However, there has been a rise of people in committed relationships openly pursuing people outside their relationships. These are polycule relationships.

When properly established, open relationships can be an honest, safe, and consenting opportunity for one or both persons in a partnership to safely explore sexually and emotionally.

Polyamory is simply the willingness to be in more than one loving relationship at the same time. Every polyamorous relationship path is unique. Some polyamorous persons may have tried monogamous relationships and failed, but others may have always known they were polyamorous.

If you’ve spent time reading about polyamorous relationships or know any consensually non-monogamous people, you’ve probably heard the term ‘polycule relationship.

This post includes everything you need to know about polycules. This includes the different terms, polycule types, and a guide that you may find useful.

What Does Polycule Mean?

Contrary to popular belief, more Americans than you may expect are publicly dating or having multiple romantic relationships.

It’s an umbrella term that refers to a network of people and relationships that are all emotionally, sexually, or romantically associated with at least one other person inside the polycule. The word polycule combines “polyamory” and “molecule,” referring to relationship patterns that often look like the chemical structure of molecules.

The term has found mainstream usage in the last ten to fifteen years. It is a useful descriptor to talk about people in discussions. Instead of a complicated descriptor like “your girlfriend’s nesting partner’s boyfriend’s spouse,” they are simply referred to as a member of your polycule.

Although some polycules are small and only have a handful of people, there is no limit to the size of a polycule. They fluctuate and evolve with time: as partnerships begin and end, the shape of the polycule and the people within it vary.

Partner domination

Types of Polycule Relationships

To feel more confident about what the different types of polycule relationships entail, take a look below.

“V” Polycule

A “V” is a three-pronged polycule, where person A has links with persons B and C, but B and C aren’t dating. B and C would call each other their metamours (a person who is their partner’s partner). This is a poly family.

Bisexual Polycule & Throuples

A triad, commonly referred to as a throuple, involves all three persons being involved sexually, romantically, or emotionally. This can occur when B and C decide to date each other along with A in the previous example. A bisexual polycule can thrive in throuples.

Quad Polycule

A quad is similar to a triad, except it consists of four persons involved with one another. Two pairs of spouses may sometimes join to form a quad. Another scenario is when a primary couple begins their relationship, and each brings in an additional partner to form a quad.

There can even be quints and more, but classification becomes a little complicated at this point, which is why the term ‘polycule’ is helpful.

There are many more varieties out there — like molecules, there can be an almost unlimited variety of shapes — and each person’s polycule will be unique.

Structures of a Polycule

Polyamorous relationships can have various structures, and even if you are polyamorous, your relationship structure may not be suitable for all partners.

A few common polycule structures are:

  1. Hierarchical Polycule Relationships:

    Some polyamorous people have nesting partners (those who live with them) or primary partners.

    The primary partners can co-parent, live together, and only share finances. They may decide together on their restrictions for other sexual partners or love partnerships.

    Other people not in the primary relationship are “secondary” or “tertiary” partners. Partners are unequal in terms of power within the relationship structure, including factors like connection and relationship intensity.

  2. Non-Hierarchical Polycule Relationships:

    Non-hierarchical structure, on the other hand, is a more fluid type of relationship. There is no rank or terminology, such as ‘primary’ or ‘secondary’ for partners in these relationships.

    It also implies that no one partner has higher priority, advantages, or “veto power” than the others. Some partners may live together, while others may spend more time together.

  3. Solo Polyamory:

    Solo polyamory is when a person decides not to cohabitate or pool their resources with another person. They reserve the freedom to make their own decisions without being influenced by anyone else.

  4. Relationship Anarchy:

    Relationship anarchists oppose traditional or cultural definitions of what a relationship should be like. For them, no relationship is necessarily more essential than another.

woman stockings

Difference Between a Polycule and an Open Relationship

The main difference between a polycule and an open relationship is that in the former, you commit to loving numerous persons equally in the polycule. In an open relationship, you can have sex with anyone but are emotionally committed to only one primary partner.

When set up correctly, open relationships can be incredibly exciting for all parties. This works best if you and your partner are completely comfortable with the idea and aren’t afraid to talk it out if one of you changes your mind.

Couples can make guidelines for how their relationships will function, but not having any restrictions is a formula for disaster. Being in an open or polycule relationship may be liberating and exciting if both partners are okay with the idea, establish a clear agreement, and have great trust and communication.

Swinging is a social sexual activity similar to being in an open relationship. Swingers are usually couples who participate in various forms of sexual sharing or swapping with one another. The level of intimacy and sexual engagement varies with each encounter, determined by clear boundaries and agreements. 

Swinging can be a terrific way to boost sexual energy and connection in any relationship. It may be an option for couples who are not comfortable with open relationships but want to share sexual experiences as a couple with other people. 

Terms To Define Your Relationship

If you can pursue other connections and fall in love with your partners, you’re in an open, polyamorous relationship.

If you have more than one partner but have agreed not to take on any new ones, this is a closed polyamorous relationship. A closed triad, as mentioned previously, is a group of three persons who are only with one another but don’t want any other connections.

If you accept additional sexual partners but don’t want them to get romantic with you, your relationship is open but not polyamorous. You’re just into swinging. Swingers frequently have sex outside their primary relationship but keep it casual.

If you’re interested in only dating or marrying one person, your relationship is not open or polyamorous; you are likely monogamous.

A Starter Guide to Polycule

Why do people begin polycule relationships?

  • Polycules create a community for some people, allowing them to connect with the partners of people they already know and love.

  • Being in a polycule may imply more love, support, and sexual variety.

  • One way of looking at polyamory is as a transitory period for people who eventually leave the polyamorous community and settle down.

  • People in non-monogamous relationships engage in sex substantially more frequently to seek new experiences and increase their self-esteem.

  • Some couples may be content with their emotional connection but no longer express their love sexually — whether due to a lack of physical appeal or incompatible sex drives. Allowing other sexual partners into the partnership can allow them to have their bodily needs addressed.

No relationship styles are alike; what works for you may not work for someone else.

Consenting to everything that concerns your relationship is incredibly important, otherwise, cheating or infidelity can become problems.

If you want to explore these new sorts of intimate relationships, you and your partner must have those conversations surrounding communication and expectations.

handcuffed woman

What Should You Ask Yourself Before Forming a Polycule?

Dating can be difficult without coping with the additional problems that polyamory brings. Having more than one love relationship might be difficult, especially in a typically monogamous Western society. 

If you’ve only ever been exclusive, introducing another love partner to create a polycule may seem scary. Before ever considering polyamory or open partnerships that might lead to polycules, you should ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Do I only want to increase the number of my sexual partners or broaden my sexual connections?

  2. Do I intend to create an emotional connection with a new partner, or would it only be physical?

  3. What are my limits? What are my non-negotiables?

  4. Do I feel comfortable getting intimate with more than one person at a time?

  5. How will I inform my primary partner about my other relationships?

  6. How frequently will we communicate about my other relationships?

  7. What will we do if a new person enters the relationship?

  8. What does infidelity mean to me?

  9. How will we handle pregnancy and STIs?

  10. How will we handle jealousy?

  11. What plans do we have for holidays and special occasions?

  12. What are our sex and safe sex practices rules?

  13. Do I have a say in my partner’s other relationships?

  14. Do we share finances or living quarters with others?

  15. What would I never agree to?

  16. What happens if or when someone decides to end the relationship?

Tips to Successfully Navigate a Polycule Relationship

Although William Cowper’s quote of variety being the spice of life probably didn’t mean starting or being part of a polycule, hey, whatever floats your boat!

  1. Whatever you do, keep talking to your primary and secondary partners, and always remember to give your full consent.

  2. If you aren’t in a throuple or similarly equal relationship, you must determine whether or not you wish to meet your partner’s partners.

  3. Discuss the types of relationships you want to establish with the other members of the polycule.

  4. Make it a point to be honest with each other about how often you want to see each other, how often you want to hang out in a group versus one-on-one and what elements of your relationship should be solely sexual versus classically romantic.

Joining a Polycule Relationship — If That’s Your Vibe

If you want to spice up your love life with consensual non-monogamous relationships, you might be interested in joining a polycule.

You can look for like-minded people on personal dating sites, such as Doublelist, which connects people in most major cities of America to the type of sexual adventurers they’re interested in.

From being a femboy to being into BBW, to monogamous relationships to polycules, you can find what you’re looking for. Sign up for an account at DoubleList.

Unlock your wildest fantasies and connect with locals today!

Connect with straight, gay, bi and curious!

Leave a Comment