Poly folk are coming out of the woodwork these days. I talk a lot about what it is to be poly, but today it feels necessary to discuss what it is not.

Polyamory is not the same as an open relationship. An open relationship refers to seeking physical (usually sexual) pleasure outside of a committed relationship, i.e. having sex with more than one person. Polyamory refers to relationships, i.e. being emotionally committed to more than one person simultaneously. While you can be open and poly, they are not the same thing.

Polyamory is not a threat to your relationship. Though it appears as a common scapegoat for relationship issues, polyamory shouldn’t be a threat to anything really. To be polyamorous is to embrace love in all its forms and expressions. Love is my guiding principle, full stop. I would never want my presence in your life to be a hindrance or in any way to negatively affect the love you give or receive.

Polyamory is not cheating. It can be difficult to break old thought patterns that would have you believe that having feelings for someone outside of an existing relationship is tantamount to cheating, but it shouldn’t feel that way. Solid communication is the key to every relationship, and if all parties have openly communicated and agreed to a poly dynamic, then it isn’t cheating.

Polyamory is not the answer for a failing relationship. A failed relationship cannot be saved by introducing polyamory (or anything else). Relationships require dedicated, open communication and if that is failing, attempting to “go poly” is going to amplify that failure. Every relationship is its own microcosm and its ecosystem needs to be maintained individually.

Polyamory is not for everyone. There are many people for whom a single committed relationship meets their needs and that is wonderful. Accepting polyamory as an option does not mean accepting it as your option.