Reporter's Notebook

Stories of Non-Monogamy
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Readers share their experiences with polyamory and open relationships. To join in, email hello@theatlantic.com.

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When Polyamory Isn't Really About Sex

A few readers attest to that. The first makes a key distinction:

I’ve been in a poly relationship since around 2010, and I think it’s important to make clear that being poly and being in an open relationship are not exactly the same. Being from the Midwest, I had no clue what poly was until I moved to Seattle and became a member of the Center For Sex Positive Culture. So, while I am not a perfect expert, I do want to clear up some stuff.

An open relationship can generally be considered as something between a couple (two committed adults in a relationship) who are willing or looking to add someone else in for a short term period—a threesome, foursome, one-night stand, swinging, etc.

A polyamorous relationship might be an open relationship. But a poly relationship might also be every bit as focused as a monoamorous relationship, except between three committed people, or four, or more.

The popular reader series on non-monogamy continues—and it takes a few rockier paths. The first:

My wife and I have been together nearly ten years, and a few years back we made the decision to open our marriage sexually. The initial hope was that adding new partners would rekindle our own sexual connection, which was the only aspect of our relationship we didn’t consider fantastic. One year ago we began our explorations in earnest, with a laundry list of rules—no sleepovers, no romantic emotions, etc.

The rules quickly evaporated after my wife developed a strong love with her first partner, and I couldn’t bear to break them apart. I went into a depressive, anxious state, and I quit drinking so I could better understand my feelings.