Rules Most Polyamorous Relationships Still Follow

Contrary to popular belief, an open relationship is not the same as a polyamorous relationship. In fact, many polyamorous relationships are unique in and of themselves. Without rigid guidelines or limitation, polyamory remains a mystery to many people. But there are, however, a few ground rules that most polyamorous relationships follow in order to be successful. (Page 7 will likely surprise you.)

They must understand the commitment

UnHAppy Couple

A polyamorous relationship is very different from a traditional one. That can create problems. | LuckyBusiness/iStock/Getty Images

Again, polyamory is not the same as being in an open relationship. Instead of committing to one partner and sleeping with others, polyamorous individuals commit themselves to multiple partners. “Having multiple partners requires a lot of commitment,” one polyamorous couple tells Self. “Commitment to being the best possible partner, commitment to being honest and proactive in my communication, commitment to putting care and investment into each relationship.”

Next: Speaking of honest communication …

Communicate openly

Couple talking outdoors in a park with a green background

All parners need to be open and honest with each other. | AntonioGuillem/Getty Images

Possibly the most common thread in the polyamorous community is that having open and honest communication is paramount. “Good poly happens when things are put on the table,” post Sex Geek summarizes. It’s a major warning sign if an individual in a polyamorous relationship wants to keep things from their partner, or partners.

Next: Keeping with the theme of being open with their partners …

Respect all members of the relationship

Jealousy doesn’t work in a polyamorous relationship. | Bojan89/Getty Images

Polyamory and selfishness do not mix. So in addition to communicating openly, individuals in this relationship have to have the utmost respect for their partners. “That includes behaving with compassion toward everyone involved in the relationship,” MoreThanTwo.com says, “including the partners of your partners.”

Next: A rule that separates polyamory from other relationship types …

Separate fidelity from loyalty

Learn this big difference. | iStock.com

Writer and blogger Page Turner tells Self that this is what separates polyamorous relationships from others. “For us, there’s a huge difference between fidelity (being sexually exclusive to just one person) and loyalty (supporting and being honest to another person).” Being completely loyal encompasses the rules of communicating honestly and listening to your partner, both in and outside of the bedroom.

Next: Speaking of which …

Remember, things go beyond the physical

Woman laughing

Like any relationship, it isn’t all about sex. | SanneBerg/iStock/Getty Images

“I think there’s this assumption that you’re having sex all the time,” Turner admits to Self. “But just like a monogamous relationship, it depends on what’s going on in your life.” Like in any other kind of relationship, other aspects important.

Next: Polyamory also involves …

Be extra in tune with emotions

Mature woman applying moisturizer to her skin in a mirror

Be open with your emotions. | studiokovac/iStock/Getty Images

Because this relationship requires a high level of commitment, being in tune with emotions is a common rule of thumb. This may involve scheduling certain times to check in with partners and making sure that everyone is happy.

Next: This last one may surprise you …

Know how to be happy alone

Depressed woman

If you aren’t happy alone, you won’t be happy with multiple partners. | Marjan_Apostolovic/iStock/Getty Images

But if you’re in the polyamorous community, doesn’t that mean you have multiple partners and you aren’t alone? “If you approach your relationships with the idea that they’ll make you happy when you can’t make yourself happy, you will inevitably be disappointed,” Sex Geek says. “Be happy alone first. Then add one or more partners to enhance, deepen and enjoy that happiness with you.”

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