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Just what exactly is polyamory, anyway?

Is your heart in it?
Is your heart in it?
C. Goldberg /


  • Profile picture of MyLadyKatarina
    MyLadyKatarina 5 years ago

    Central to my definition of polyamory [a word I had to add to one spell checker!!] is "not defaulting to monogamy" and "keeping one's agreements." Therefore, it is possible to have an *intentional* monogamy that may qualify, for me, as being polyamorous. [The spell checker didn't recognize that word, either.]

    On the comedy sitcom How I Met Your Mother, three of the main characters have known each other since the first day of college: two roommates and a girl from down the hall. One of the guys starts dating the girl, and years later the three are sharing an apartment. When the other guy moves out, the "couple" (who are proud to have only have had sex with one another) realizes they need him to function. He moves back in, and things go back to a stable state again.

    I assert that the three are in a poly relationship, although Ted has never had a romantic nor sexual relationship with either member of "the couple," who are strictly monogamous by cultural standards. The functioning of their household works because all three are present, and is based on mutual love, respect, agreements, shared history and experience, and a commitment to one another's happiness.
    However, they are open to including new people into their group; some of these are sexual relationships -- Ted is still looking for The One -- and one of those stays in the group when the sex ends, because she had become part of the group beyond that aspect, whereas others enter and then leave.
    Another member of the group, Barney, is jealous of not being part of the primary grouping, and often insists that he is, by saying he is the "best friend" of either of the roommates, which they immediately deny: bro-hood wise, he is a secondary -- but he is included and expected, before, during, and after his relationship with a woman Ted dated. And she remained in the group before, during, and after she dated Ted then Barney, because her membership in the group went beyond her girlfriend/sexual affiliation status.
    At one point, the couple breaks up, and Ted is furious with her for hurting her fiance. Later we learn that one reason she returns is that Barney secretly flies out to SF and gave her a plane ticket, telling her to come home.
    Is there any question that these five people are in an emotionally polyamorous relationship?
    Meanwhile, the monogamous model is held up as the goal by three of the five; Barney is hoping life will remain a series of one night stands, yet had a monogamous relationship with Robin; and Robin, who is not "good" at being a girlfriend, still gives and expects fidelity. Hmmmm......
    Inclusion in the group isn't just about the sex. However, everything presented as a "relationship" is expected to be monogamous, and Ted gets in hot water for breaking that expectation, claiming he'd broken off a long-distance relationship before he had.
    The issue of agreements and communication often arise, and this view of the show only adds to my enjoyment of it.

    What other popular culture has "underground" poly themes?
    I'd love to hear what other people have to say.


  • alan7388 5 years ago


    I have a suggestion: Submit some of your old Examiner essays as articles to Modern Poly. These folks (I've met them) are trying hard to build up the site into something big for the long term -- including a magazine-type section with consistently high-quality articles, and they really want more such submissions right now. You can go to and click on the Submissions tab. OK to use my name.

    Also, please consider submitting an article from your archives or two to Loving More magazine, which now comes out once or twice a year in on-screen format (you turn the pages with your mouse). It too is eager for article submissions. Send to .

    The Examiner is pretty localized, and you've put up some fine pieces that deserve wider exposure. And they would also help out these two other worthy endeavors.


    Alan M.

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