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Polyamory, Open Relationships, and Paradigm Shifts

In the most recent episode of the Polyamory Weekly podcast, Minx answered a question from a listener about the difference between polyamory and open relationships.  She basically defined open relationships as those with a couple already at the base, and polyamory as more of an orientation.  So Minx is single and poly, but she couldn’t be single and in an open relationship.  This is a little different from how I’m used to thinking of polyamory vs. open, which is basically that poly is multiple relationships and open means sex outside one or more relationships, but it did get me thinking about how these structures function in my life and generally, and how being polyamorous affects the way one looks at the world.

When I started out with polyamory, I didn’t really feel comfortable with the idea of “open.”  Part of that was that it seemed rather chaotic and haphazard.  I didn’t think that there was any reason to limit romantic relationships to just one, but the word “open” gave me a mental picture of extreme promiscuity and I think especially, a lack of control.

Without really thinking about it, though, I’ve ended up in an open, poly situation and I’m happy with that.  It was mostly accidental, because I had no interest in setting rules about sex and dating, outside of the important safer sex questions, of course.  I still think of myself primarily as a “polyamorous person,” even though I’m only with one person right now, because polyamory has become a lens through which I view the world, rather than a simple way of describing what’s going on in my love life.
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