POLYAMORY – the practice or willingness to have more than one romantic partner, with full consent of all people involved in a given relationship. Apart from an open relationship and swinging, it is one of the most frequent forms of so-called consensual non-monogamy, i.e. allowing such emotional and sexual contacts with other partners that in our culture are exclusive for couples. Polyamory emphasises emotional openness with the underlying assumption that it is possible to be deeply in love with more than one person at a time. Polyamorous people are usually attached to clear rules, full honesty and working on relationships in order to communicate better and feel greater satisfaction.
COMPRESSION – the opposite of jealousy – joy derived from the fact that the person we love has another fulfilling relationship or is sexually active with other people, or wellbeing caused by their other relationship.
RELATIONAL ANARCHY – an approach to love, friendship and relationships in which emphasis is put on each person’s freedom to form any relations. According to this idea, no relation should be formed or limited because of a sense of obligation or because of existing cultural restrictions concerning what a “good relation” is supposed to mean. Any form of a relation, its length, and the level of involvement is acceptable. In relational anarchy there is no clear distinction between love, friendship, and other manifestations of intimacy. Care and intimacy are allowed, though not imposed, in every form of intimacy. Rules, if needed, are created for each relation individually.
SWINGING – sexual involvement outside the main relationship, usually (though not necessarily) taking place in special circumstances (for example, in a given time and place, in the main partner’s presence). This is a form of a relation emphasising mostly sexual freedom, but rarely allowing emotional non-excludability (if it happened, partners would describe themselves as polyamorous). Swinging is a practice that has been popular for many decades, present among people of various political, social or religious standpoints. Due to the rules concerning the circumstances of the sexual contacts, or control over the partner’s behaviour associated with it to a certain extent, this practice is more suitable for people to whom sexually open relationship or polyamory may seem unpredictable or threatening. There are, however, also so-called open forms of swinging that allow sexual activity outside the swingers’ meetings and not necessarily in the main partner’s presence.
OPEN RELATIONSHIP – in a broad sense, every relationship that is not sexually monogamous (for example, a swinging relationship, or many polyamorous relationships). In the narrower sense, every relationship in which partners let each other be sexually, but not emotionally or romantically, involved with other people. This is a usually more open form of relationship than swinging and it allows dating or going for trips with one’s lover. This is a popular form of consensual non-monogamy, practised by many historical figures and modern people of culture, the most famous among them being Bertrand Russell, Jean Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Henry Miller or Salvador Dali. In Poland, famous people in open relationships included Irena Krzywicka and Kalina Jędrusik. It is important to be careful when using this term since it may have different connotations to different people.
NEW RELATIONAHIP ENERGY (NRE) – a strong, almost overwhelming feeling of infatuation and arousal accompanying the beginning of a new romantic relationship. NRE is one of the reasons why some people are drawn to polyamory, but also one of the most difficult experiences for the longer-standing partner whose partner is experiencing NRE. Preventing possible negative consequences for the long-term relationship is one of the challenges of polyamory.
MONO/POLY – a relationship between a person identifying as polyamorous and a person identifying as monogamous. It can be sexually or emotionally open on the polyamorous person’s side, but it doesn’t have to.
METAMOUR – metamour is a partner of a partner with whom the first person does not have their own sexual or emotional relationship.
DON’T ASK, DON’T TELL – a relations in which a person can have additional sexual or romantic relations provided their partner does not know about these other relations and does not meet any of these other people. Although for some such a deal is attractive, a of polyamorous people do not accept it, since it involves some risks. The most frequent one is the possibility of hiding an open relationship in disguise of “don’t ask, don’t tell”, without the partner’s actual consent.
EMOTIONAL MONOGAMY (or EMOTIONAL FIDELITY) – a form of a relationship in which there is an assumed romantic exclusivity of two partners, but not necessarily a sexual one. For example, many people involved in swinging are emotionally monogamous, and developing feelings for the other partner is then considered as an infidelity.
FREE LOVE – a belief that sexual relations should not be confined by the idea of love, commitment, marriage, or other type of obligation. Many proponents of free love completely oppose the concept of marriage, since they perceive it as a way of imposing limitations and responsibilities on sexuality. It has become an obsolete term, gradually replaced by the concept of relational anarchy (which emphasises also various nuances of intimacy, not only sexual freedom).
100 KM RULE – every type of agreement between partners allowing mutual sexual non-excludability, but only in a situation when they are geographically apart. It can be used as a solution to a longer separation (for example, when one person has to go on business abroad for a longer period of time), or as means of not letting the long-term partner meet the other partners. Usually this rule entails an unspoken understanding that when partners are close to each other, their relationship is monogamous again.
EXCLUSIVE RELATION – a relation that is sexually or emotionally monogamous, or polyfaithful, i.e. a relation of a few people who commit themselves to sexual and emotional exclusivity within their group.
FRIENDS WITH BENEFITS – a relationship in which two (or more) friends consent to a sexual activity, but without the aspect of a romantic love and the practical or emotional implications that romantic relationships usually have.
HOT BI BABE (aka UNICORN) – a bisexual person, usually a woman, who wishes to join an existing couple. Couples often assume that hot bi babe is going to be emotionally and sexually committed to both partners, not demanding anything or not doing anything that could cause any inconvenience in their relationship. This term is used ironically, in order to point out the shallow attitude towards the idea of polyamory by the couple searching for such mythical unicorn. Usually the fantasy of a hot bi babe assumes hierarchism, i.e. treating the new lover less seriously than the “main” partner.
Katarzyna Grunt-Mejer: Director of the Postgraduate Practical Sexology Studies. Adjunct Professor at the Department of Clinical Psychology and Health at the SWPS University, Poznań. Doctor of Humanities in psychology, with additional education in sexology, philosophy and bioethics. In her scientific work she deals with issues of sexual ethics, psychological support, functioning of close relationships and sexology.
Katarzyna Kukuła: painter, graduate of the Academy of Fine Arts in Krakow;
“I have an internal imperative to create. Visions come and demand fulfillment. The works […] talk about freedom, independence, courage and creativity. Female sexuality is such a complex subject. Over the years, various myths have grown out of it, and it still escapes from the “drawer” and retains its freshness. It is a mystery. And I, like every human being, love to discover secrets”.