Poly vs Open

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I am not much for terms. As a writer, you would think I would love them. But I am not a precise person. I hate specifics. I think in broad strokes about overall ideas and I hate nitpicking. This makes me a horrible copy editor.

Anyway, I was asked about the difference between being “poly” and being “open,” and I thought it was a good question so I will do my best to answer it.

I lot of couples consider these terms synonymous, which is to say, they think it is the same thing. And that is fine. You can define things however you want in your world. I am not a purist, so I believe that usage defines language. But that’s a whole other blog post…

Anyway, those who hold that the terms have different means have defined them to me this way:

Poly: Having multiple emotional relationships at the same time (this can mean a primary and secondary, more than one primary, etc.)

Open: Having only one emotional relationship, but having sexual or play relationships with people outside the primary relationship.

Again, it is up to you to decide how you feel, but I want to put in my two cents that it’s very hard to sleep with someone and not become fond of them. (That’s just down to hormones and such, so don’t think I am being sappy. Oxcytocin and Dopamine are things, you know? ) So to me it seems like if you want to have an open relationship, and you define that as no outside emotional attachments, then you should probably stick to one-night stands.



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2 thoughts on “Poly vs Open

    • Well that’s up to you! I just notice that people (mostly female) form bonds with people they sleep with regardless of if they “date” or only have sex. And there is a scientific basis for that (i.e. the chemicals I mentioned.)

      Men, on the other hand, do not get these chemicals from sex. SO they are in less danger of getting attached to a “FWB.”

      Therefore I think it’s easiest for gay men to be poly without dealing with primary, secondary, and tertiary relationships forming.

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