Types of polyamory

Polyamory is a type of consensual non-monogamous relationship where individuals have multiple romantic or sexual partners simultaneously, with the consent, agreement and knowledge of all involved.


The term 'polyamory' is derived from the Greek word "poly," meaning many, and the Latin word "amor," meaning love. Polyamorous relationships can take various forms, depending on the preferences and agreements of the individuals involved.

What is polyamory?

In polyamorous relationships, individuals may form deep emotional connections and engage in romantic or sexual relationships with multiple partners. These relationships can be hierarchical, with some partners having a primary or more committed role. In contrast, others may be secondary or tertiary partners. Alternatively, relationships can be non-hierarchical, with all partners considered equal and treated with the same level of importance.

Polyamory emphasises open communication, honesty, and negotiation among all partners. It involves explicit and ongoing consent from all parties involved, focusing on maintaining ethical and responsible behaviour. Polyamorous individuals may also embrace the philosophy of comparsion, which refers to finding joy and satisfaction in the happiness and fulfilment of their partners with others.

It's important to note that polyamory differs from cheating or infidelity, as all parties know and consent to the multiple relationships. Polyamory is a relationship style that challenges the traditional societal norms of monogamy, recognising that love and intimacy can be shared among various people ethically and consensually.

What are the various forms of polyamory?

Polyamory encompasses a range of relationship forms and structures, as it is highly customisable based on the preferences and agreements of the individuals involved. Here are some common forms of polyamory:

  • V-shaped triad: In this form, three individuals are involved in a relationship where one is romantically or sexually affected by two others, but the two secondary partners are not engaged.
  • N-shaped triad: Similar to the V-shaped triad, but in this case, the two secondary partners are also involved with each other in addition to their connection with the primary partner.
  • Quad: A quad involves four individuals who may be romantically or sexually involved with each other in various combinations. For example, two individuals may be engaged with each other and the other two individuals in the quad.
  • Relationship network: This refers to a more complex structure where multiple individuals are connected in various relationships, forming a network. People within the network may have primary or secondary partnerships, and relationships can be hierarchical or non-hierarchical.
  • Solo polyamory: Solo polyamory involves individuals who prefer maintaining their independence and autonomy while engaging in multiple relationships. They may have multiple partners but prioritise personal freedom and avoid entwining their lives in traditional ways, such as living together or merging finances.
  • Kitchen table polyamory: This concept emphasises open communication and community among all partners. The idea is that everyone can comfortably sit around the kitchen table and have open discussions, share experiences, and build relationships.

These are just a few examples, and polyamory allows for infinite possibilities regarding relationship structures. Each polyamorous arrangement is unique and can be tailored to the needs, desires, and boundaries of the individuals involved.

Can counselling help you explore the subject of polyamory?

Yes, counselling can be helpful for individuals or couples who want to explore polyamory. A qualified and knowledgeable therapist can provide a safe and supportive space to discuss and navigate the challenges, emotions, and dynamics that can arise in polyamorous relationships. Here are a few ways counselling can assist in exploring polyamory:

Education and understanding

A therapist can provide accurate information about polyamory, explain different relationship structures, and help clarify misconceptions or concerns. They can also help individuals understand their motivations, desires, and expectations regarding polyamory.

Communication and boundaries

Polyamory requires open and honest communication among all partners involved. A counsellor can assist in developing practical communication skills and establishing clear boundaries within the relationships. They can facilitate conversations and respectfully guide individuals in expressing their needs, concerns, and desires.

Emotional support

Exploring polyamory can bring up a range of emotions, including jealousy, insecurity, and fear. A therapist can help individuals navigate these emotions, develop coping strategies, and foster emotional well-being within the context of polyamorous relationships. They can also address any individual or relationship issues that may arise.

Conflict resolution

Like any relationship style, polyamory can encounter conflicts and challenges. A counsellor can help mediate conflicts, provide tools for conflict resolution, and facilitate discussions to find mutually satisfying solutions. They can guide individuals in navigating complex emotions and relationship dynamics.

Relationship agreements and negotiations

Establishing agreements and boundaries is crucial in polyamorous relationships. A therapist can assist in exploring and negotiating these agreements, helping individuals identify and articulate their needs and desires. They can provide guidance on topics such as time management, safer sex practices, and hierarchical versus non-hierarchical structures.

It's important to choose a knowledgeable therapist who supports polyamory or non-monogamous relationships. They should have a non-judgmental stance and respect for diverse relationship styles. Seeking a therapist with experience working with polyamorous clients or attending polyamory-friendly support groups or workshops can be beneficial.

At Hope Therapy & Counselling Services, we have an extensive team of counsellors, many of which have immediate availability. So if you are looking for a counsellor experienced in supporting polyamory, simply get in touch to learn more.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Counselling Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Wantage OX12 & Rickmansworth WD3
Written by Hope Therapy & Counselling Services, Offering Counselling, CBT, Hypnotherapy, EMDR & Mindfulness.
Wantage OX12 & Rickmansworth WD3

Driven by a vision to create a safe and nurturing space for individuals seeking support, Hope Therapy & Counselling Services was born. A handpicked team of skilled and highly compassionate counsellors with a shared commitment to helping others. Together, they work collaboratively to provide comprehensive, tailor-made counselling support.

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