Poly Want A Glossary?

For those who believe in monogamy, it might seem that all couples who have sex with other people are lumped together into one big indistinguishable orgy of polymorphous perversity.

But a visit to a subreddit on polyamory, aka ethical nonmonogamy, would tell you how wrong you are. As well as a recent Guardian article touting Portland Oregon as a hotbed (see what I did there?) of poly love.

In other words, break out the flow charts, give me a pointer, and let’s break down the new language of nonmonogamy.

Couples are either open to other partners or closed, i.e. they’re either non-monogamous or they’re monogamous. Where it gets tricky is that in some cases, they’re open to their significant other having sexual but not romantic relationships. Or they’re open to both. Or, they’re having sexual relationships with one or more people together only, i.e. they’re swingers. Or, they’re a triad or quadrad, etc. that is monogamous but open, i.e. they will bring in another person into the relationship but can’t branch off individually.

Or like the triad featured in the Guardian, comprising one man and two women, they’re in a “V” dynamic in which he’s in a sexual relationship with the two women but they’re not in a relationship with each other but are “metamours, ” meaning the partner of their partner.

Polyamory may not be going mainstream quite yet, but it is becoming more visible. Showtime has a reality TV series called “Polyamory: Married and Dating,” and there’s a new polyromantic comedy called “You Me Her,” about a poly couple who enter into a relationship together with a grad student.

It all ladders up to a couple trends we’re following, including Modern Family and Blurred ID, in which what we used to see as binaries of gender, sexuality and even monogamy are accepted as existing on a complex continuum. And with Tinder and Bumble both featuring a friend-finder component, more people are co-living and co-working, and a resurgence in intentional communities, perhaps the couple as we know it is passé?