Polyamory Isn’t About Sex

The One Thing People Misunderstand Most About Polyamorous Relationships

Joe Duncan
Apr 6, 2019 · 5 min read

Polyamory isn’t about sex and I wish more people understood that. There are many other elements that make a polyamorous relationship, elements which all have little-to-nothing to do with sex.

Most people tend to think that sex is a majorly emphasized point in the worlds of polyamorous people, and I have to say, that while there are some additional sexual benefits — polyamory simply isn’t about sex.

When it comes to poly relationships there is a variety of types for individuals to choose to best suit their needs. Poly dynamics have a lot of different nuances and expressions that run the gamut, allowing participants the flexibility to choose how and why they want to love, and what’s important to them. Some poly styles emphasize sex more than others, and of those, polyamory is the lifestyle which emphasizes sex the least — it’s also the one which I personally practice in my life, though I’ve tried the others; polyamory is what’s right for me.

For an overview about the different styles of poly relationships, one is available here on Medium, but to summarize, I’ll just list some definitions:

  1. Poly: A general term which serves as an umbrella slang and covers all different types of poly relationships, swingers, polyamory, and more.
  2. Swingers: Swingers are people who participate in partner-exchanges, often sex parties, other times smaller get-togethers where the sole purpose is for people to have sex with others outside of their relationships. In a way, polyamorous people are diametrically opposite to swingers.
  3. Non-monogamy: Non-monogamy simply means that sex or love aren’t reserved for one person in our lives; non-monogamous relationships don’t require acts of sex as a prerequisite; emotional non-monogamy is a real thing.
  4. Polyamory: A relationship where one or more partners engage in deep feelings of emotional connection and romantic love for multiple partners, rather than one individual.

There are more definitions covered in the article formerly mentioned, The Different Types of Non-Monogamy, but these are the ones which you’ll need to know as I explain what life as a polyamorous person is like.


There is some irony in the fact that my relationship, one with two men and one woman, would largely be seen as effeminate by many (most?) men who are used to the familiar, traditional family structure; you know, the one that religious people and Republicans are always going on about being under attack. The fact is, our dynamic is more rich in love than anything I’ve ever experienced — not sex, but love.

There is an abundance of love in our home, and it’s this way for everyone involved. We all deeply care about one another, even myself and the other male involved, even though there’s no sexual activity between he and I.

When most people hear that I’m poly, they instantly think there’s this extremely kinky sex going on, that we’re these fiendish and crazed sex maniacs, but that’s actually very far from the truth. We’re actually everyday people with everyday lives: we go out to the movies, we hang out with friends, we do simple stuff.

We often have friends over very early in the morning, and most of our mornings are filled with laughter and discussion, hanging out, and sipping our very necessary morning brew of coffee so that we may enjoy our respective days without feeling like the living dead. Our coffee moments are some of the most magical moments of my life, the way we engage, the way we prepare ourselves for work and begin the day, freshly refreshed from sleep, telling one another about our dreams, recent events, and discussing what’s important to us.

Many people don’t see these coffee moments, the threeway dinner dates, the outings, the movie theaters and the trade-off of which arm goes around who, alternating and giving the other person a chance to hug our amazing woman.

They just hear polyamory and their mind automatically goes to sex and they likely wonder how and why we do it — and they sometimes think us weird; any normalization of polyamorous life needs to be a human one, and while the sexual benefits to such a situation are a big seller for many, it’s the more human elements, the mundane, the practical, and the deep, fulfilling love that surrounds you and almost engulfs you at all times — too much love isn’t a bad thing, no matter what society tries to tell us.

Polyamory and Closed Relationships

Polyamorous relationships aren’t synonymous with open relationships, like many think — it can be an open relationship, or it can be a closed one, like everyone else has. I’m not writing this to foster a sense of tribalism, which all too often happens with human dynamics, sadly, but there are other types of dynamics — like open relationships, like swinging, etc. — which are much more in-line with the values of extremely sex-minded people.

We don’t have an open relationship, we don’t pursue sexual or romantic relationships outside of the main relationship, we’re all three happy with what we have and wish to continue it. We aren’t swingers either, which would require us to have sexual relationships without the deep and powerful emotional bond that the three of us share.

The fact is, as much as people may have a hard time both believing and accepting this fact, our relationship is based on love, mutual respect, and commitment, just like anyone else’s.

When one of us gets sick, when we get old, when we start to experience the real pains of life or have declining sex drives, we’ll still be there for one another and that’s a fact. We love each other and that’s what counts, to us.

This doesn’t mean that we’re not very sexual people, we are, and it’s a staple of our relationship that we greatly enjoy; this does mean that it’s not the fundamentally important value in our relationships, we’re sustaining and maintaining relationships with each other on an emotional level, not just trying to extend and maintain sexual relationships, and there’s a huge difference in how that plays out in our daily lives.

We support one another in our dreams, we support one another in our hopes, economically when any one of us hits a hard time with work, with chores, and a million other things that are way more important than sex, just like anyone else would — or should — only there are three of us.

So for us, polyamory isn’t about sex — it’s not at all, it’s about passion, love, and bonding — in short, it’s about sharing our lives together. The Goal of a Relationship is to Live Together, as I’ve discussed here; to actually live.

It’s quite an interesting experience and one I wouldn’t trade for the world. For further reading on what my polyamorous life is, check out my true and quite silly piece, A Day in the Life of a Guy in a Polyamorous Relationship:

© 2019; Joe Duncan. All Rights Reserved

Moments of Passion

Moments of Passion

Live Passionately

Joe Duncan

Written by

From Los Angeles, California. Life isn’t a series of many moments, but one moment that is always changing. Buy me coffee here: https://ko-fi.com/joeduncan

Moments of Passion

Live Passionately

More From Medium

More from Moments of Passion

More from Moments of Passion

More from Moments of Passion

Elders Aren’t Disposable.

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade