Polyamory, in a word (or two), is consensual non-monogamy. This means that you and your partner have agreed to have sexual or emotional relationships (or both) with other people. The key word here, friends, is “agreed.” It’s not like adultery, where one spouse is obviously in the dark. Polyamory is also different from having an open relationship (some polyamorous threesomes or foursomes are exclusive to each other) or polygamy (a typically faith-based relationship in which you have more than one spouse).


If you’re in a relationship, you have to make sure you’re both on board with the idea (e.g., you don’t secretly want to break up with your spouse and are using this as a way out). Then make some ground rules. “Some people may say ‘It’s okay for you to meet someone, but before you actually get physical, I need to meet them,’” says Zoe Duff, director of the Canadian Polyamory Advocacy Association. “Set up boundaries depending on where your comfort levels are.” Some couples even have written agreements; apps like Poly Life can help organize these.


This article originally appeared in the February 2017 issue of ELLE Canada.