(Literally, poly many + amor love)
The state or practice of maintaining multiple sexual and/or romantic relationships simultaneously, with the full knowledge and consent of all the people involved.
Polyamorous: of or related to the practice of polyamory, as in polyamorous relationship: a relationship involving more than two people, or open to involvement by more than two people; polyamorous person: a person who prefers or is open to romantic relationships with more than one partner simultaneously.
See related polyfidelity, triad, quad, vee, polygamy, polygyny, polyandry, swinging, responsible non-monogamy.
Commentary: There is some debate over the origin of the word. The Oxford English Dictionary attributes the word to Jennifer Wesp, who founded the newsgroup alt.polyamory in 1992. The term polyamorous is often attributed to Morning Glory Zell, who used it to describe situations in which a person engages in multiple loving, committed relationships simultaneously in the essay “A Bouquet of Lovers.” It appears that both people coined the term independently and simultaneously.
Polyamory is not necessarily related directly to marriage or to polygamy; a person may have no spouse or only one spouse and still be polyamorous. Many people use the term “polyamory” to describe only those relationships in which a person has multiple loving partners; some people have extended the term to include relationships in which a person has multiple sexual partners regardless of the emotional component or degree of commitment between them, though this meaning was not a part of Morning Glory Zell’s original intent for the word.
In 1992, when the editors of the Oxford English Dictionary contacted Morning Glory Zell to ask for a formal definition and background of the word; part of her response was “The two essential ingredients of the concept of ‘polyamory’ are ‘more than one’ and ‘loving.’ That is, it is expected that the people in such relationships have a loving emotional bond, are involved in each other’s lives multi-dimensionally, and care for each other. This term is not intended to apply to merely casual recreational sex, anonymous orgies, one-night stands, pick-ups, prostitution, ‘cheating,’ serial monogamy, or the popular definition of swinging as ‘mate-swapping- parties.”