Self-Defined Dictionary is a fresh-new open-source project aiming to allow minoritised groups define the words that describe them – finally from their own perspective, and not the perspective of people who never even experienced their struggles.
I took an opportunity to suggest a definition of polyamory from a perspective of a polyamorous person.
First of all, it was a very important discovery for me when I found out that polyamory/polyamorous is not something you do, it’s something you are. It stopped being an abstract concept outside of me, it became a part of my own identity.
I wanted my definition to reflect that. I wanted it to include people who do share a similar outlook on relationships to mine, whether they currently are single or in a relationship, whether in a monogamous one or not.
Secondly, I loved seeing “polyamory” being used as a umbrella term to describe different kinds of consensually non-monogamous relationships, including open relationships, in which I am. I used to think this word only describes a very specific type of relationship. But no, it’s an inclusive term: whether it’s non-monogamous only in terms of sex or also in terms of romantic involvement, whether all people are involved with everyone else or are the relationships independent or if it’s a complex polycule – all are invited in the big polyamorous family!
I like such inclusivity because it doesn’t force everyone into tiny boxes, it allows for not being sure, for being somewhere in between.
Thirdly, for me the focus should be more on the values than just the “multiple partners” thing.
I know many happy, committed, long-term relationships: some of them are exclusive, some are open... And I know plenty of shitty (or even abusive) relationships: also both monogamous and not. Turns out there are people who will still lie, cheat and hide things from their partner despite having a green light from them to meet other people.
From what I see, the key to a happy relationship is being honest and building trust between each other. Whether or not you are exclusive, be it sexually or romantically, seems to be totally irrelevant.
And that’s the polyamorous mindset – focusing on being a good partner, and not on being the only partner.
I’d like my definition to reflect this mindset, this inclusivity and this focus on a person, not their relationship status.
So here we go:
Polyamory (noun) – belief that romantic and/or sexual exclusivity is not necessary for a happy, committed relationship; an umbrella term for various types of relationships where all partners involved consent to non-monogamy, such as open relationships, polycules, throuples, group marriages, etc.
NOTE: One can be polyamorous despite currently being single or in a monogamous relationship.