Is Polyamory Cheating?

Is polyamory cheating?

Is Polyamory Cheating?

Polyamory ends up the butt of many a lazy joke across popular culture. You know the one. It’s the “open relationship” that is really just an acknowledged denouement before an inevitable breakup. Or worse, it’s the poor excuse for one partner’s cheating or the pitiful delusion of the betrayed. Why does non-monogamy get such a bad reputation? Is polyamory cheating?

Simply put, monogamy gets a privileged status in our society, and sexual exclusivity is heralded as sacrosanct. But equating polyamory with cheating is not only patronizing and supercilious, it is verifiably wrong.

If we want to play semantics, “infidelity” is a fancy word for disloyalty, and “cheating” is simply breaking the rules.

When someone cheats at a game, they are breaking the rules to gain an advantage that is otherwise forbidden. Similarly, when one cheats on a spouse, that person has been disloyal to the agreed-upon code of conduct. More importantly, there is a conscious deception by the cheater because he or she wants a sexual encounter that is prohibited within the relationship.

When it comes to polyamorous relationships, there is no deception necessary because sexual and even romantic exclusivity is not the fundamental premise of the relationship. A common mantra of polyamorists is “to have many loves and to love many ways.” Thus, partners are encouraged to seek out new experiences with new people because every individual has something unique to offer. You might even learn something that you want to share!

It may sound like a recipe for jealousy and tragedy, but polyamory actually requires a self-awareness that can often be ignored in monogamous relationships. For one, it requires each partner to reflect on themselves and accept that they–like all people–are not perfect, nor is life particularly accommodating, and thus no one can possibly meet their partner’s every need all of the time. But it also grants each individual the freedom to acknowledge their own needs, as well as the permission to pursue them without fear of betraying themselves or their loved ones.

When is Polyamory Cheating?

Which isn’t to say there aren’t rules to non-monogamy. Some polyamorists freely embark on many relationships, sometimes keeping a primary partner. Sometimes these primary partners put restrictions on who or what is allowed, often requiring approval before the external relationship can be pursued. There are even closed polygamous relationships, where three or more partners agree to be sexually exclusive with each other. Some even include swingers under the non-monogamy umbrella, though others specifically differentiate swinging from polyamory because of swinging’s focus on sex.

If you think about it, that really puts all relationships on a spectrum from monogamy to polyamory; it just depends on the rules you feel most comfortable adhering to and imposing on someone else. The key component to any relationship–however you define it–is free and open communication. So long as both partners are honest and up front about their intentions, no cheating can actually take place. Even one-sided polyamory such as cuckolding or polygyny are not cheating so long as everyone involved is willing and informed.

If polyamory doesn’t sound like something you’d be okay taking part in, that’s totally fine! You’re not a prude for knowing you’d be uncomfortable in that kind of relationship. But nor does it make polyamorists into philanderers and rakes. After all, in this world where sexuality is expanding beyond what would have been possible only 20 years ago, doesn’t it seem just a little silly to denigrate those who just want to share theirs?

Is polyamory cheating?


Sorry if we ruined your favorite joke.

Jack Buchanan

4 Comments on Is Polyamory Cheating?

Matrix said : Guest Report Subscribe one year ago

It may be that it's never good to change the rules of the game in the middle of it, but sometimes you bump into game changers.Mood swings. Loss of stamina. Loss of attraction. Diabetes. Or anything else that, as a physical swing can knock you down to your breaking point. Rather than taking that hit against your relationship, sit down, TALK IT OUT, and make those changes that will drive your relationship forward. There are ways to love each other through anything, if you have the strength to try. We had our game changers. We talked them out and love each other more now than ever, changing from monogamists to polyamorous, and now 17 years strong.

Jim said : Guest Report Subscribe one year ago

Polygamy eventually causes accidental incest if the lovers are unaware of their relations.

Remember the Married With Children episode where Kelly met some guy who made her panties wet and Bud informed her of his locality within the Bundy bloodline after the fact?

Kelly was nauseated.

While that was only a television show, the truth is that it actually happens every day and the biological consequences can be tragic if the lovers in question are too closely related, which is why polygamy is a bad idea.

On the other hand, it would be fun to have one wife give you head while the other two wives footfuck each other.

eddie/ gina "in2deep" said : Guest Report Subscribe 2 years ago

we don't think of an "open marriage" as an entrance to a breakup, we've experienced a lot as "swingers" and accomplished a lot in the lifestyle, we are open because certain circumstances prevent us doing things together such as kids, they do come first as the family does,, but when is it our turn? we love each other and we're rock solid in our marriage, we just give each other the freedom to explore with others separately, and we still have good times and good sex with each other,

Stas said : Guest Report Subscribe 2 years ago

I do not believe the human animal to be monogamist. I also do not believe in cheating, or doing something against something already promised. If you are in a relationship, you have to be open and honest in you feelings and desires, not only for yourself but for the sake of your partner's feelings and desires as well. It is never a good idea to change the rules in the middle of the game, in any situation. As a couple, set your rules of engagement and stick with them. it is only common courtesy. Always remember, It ain't cheating when you got permission, but is a lie to yourself and your partner when you stray otherwise

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