Monogamy was seen as the only model for relationship success in the past. However, a new revolution has occurred over the past several years — opening options for many couples regarding their relationships. Polyfidelity is one of these.
It is a form of polyamory, which means “multiple loves.” Polyamory is a blanket term covering everything from people who swing or open their relationships to full-fledged groups and communities. Within this spectrum are shades of gray, one of which is polyfidelity. This article will explain polyfidelity, how it differs from polyamory, and how it can benefit you if you’re in an open relationship or thinking about entering one.
So What Exactly Is Polyfidelity?
As the word suggests, polyfidelity is a form of polyamory where all members are considered equal partners and agree to restrict sexual activity to only other group members.
In a faithful relationship, you’re free to have multiple partners. The critical difference between polyfidelity and “regular” fidelity (aka monogamy) lies in commitment: In a monogamous relationship, couples commit to each other and only to each other. In a polyfidelitous group (triad, quad, or any number), everyone commits to each other — but not to anyone else. Everyone agrees not to seek relationships outside the group.
In other words, polyfidelity is “the state of having simultaneous close emotional relationships with two or more other individuals,” which essentially combines the commitment and negotiations of monogamy with the expanded love of polyamory.
Polyfidelitous people have relationships that are not sexually exclusive to one another, though their romantic relationships may be. So, those in a polyfidelitous relationship may date and become sexually involved with other partners, but only if the entire group agrees.
A person may choose to enter into polyfidelity with a group of friends for any number of reasons, such as:
- They can maintain their primary relationship and still have other partners
- They may be in a situation where they cannot have other partners but still want to form romantic relationships with people.
- They may have been in monogamous relationships for a long time and find it difficult to adjust to having multiple partners.
Some people use this term when they are not currently in any relationships but are only interested in forming polyamorous relationships with pre-existing couples.
What Are the Differences Between Polyfidelity and Polyamory?
As said earlier, polyfidelity is the practice of having more than one romantic relationship simultaneously with all involved’s full knowledge and consent. It differs from polyamory because it is a closed model, meaning no outside relationships or sexual encounters are allowed. Polyfidelity can be considered to be a type of open relationship.
It is typically practiced where there is only one central relationship per person within a group of people who agree only to have sex with each other. They may have children and all live together under one roof, or they may live separately and regularly see each other.
Polyamory is the practice of having multiple romantic relationships with all partners’ consent. It is generally distinguished from promiscuity, as it involves more than merely physical, sexual relations with others.
Proponents of polyamory argue that most people fall short of meeting their own emotional needs within an exclusive relationship and thus seek out additional means to meet those needs through secondary relationships, a practice that can be referred to as responsible non-monogamy.
Polyamory and polyfidelity are CNMs because they allow people to express love in nontraditional ways by having multiple committed relationships at once.
Related Read: What is Unicorn Polyamory?
What Are the Advantages of Polyfidelity?
Some of the advantages of polyfidelity include:
- A larger pool of potential partners can be helpful when you have specific traits you desire. For example, if you prefer tall, dark-haired men with brown eyes, having multiple partners increases your chances of finding someone who matches this description.
- You have the freedom to fall in love with others — Sometimes, love cannot be planned or predicted. If you already have multiple partners, then it is less likely that you will feel the need to stray and cheat with someone else.
- Your partners can become part of your family. In many ways, this can be easier than maintaining healthy relationships with single partners’ families, who may not accept alternative relationship styles. It allows people to establish multiple sources of emotional and practical support, making them less dependent on anyone.
- All parties know who else is in a relationship with anyone member. It eliminates jealousy over outside relationships because there are no external relationships (at least not without consent).
Is Polyfidelity Right for You?
Polyfidelity is not for everyone. Neither is monogamy. Neither is polyamory. What works for one person, one relationship, or one polycule, may not work for others. It might be right for you, if:
- You or your partners are not interested in keeping multiple intimate relationships with multiple people going simultaneously.
- You have a strong desire for a long-term commitment with the people in your primary relationship(s) and are OK with that as the primary basis of your relationship(s).
- You want to avoid jealousy, drama, or other complications that can arise when you have multiple intimate relationships simultaneously (without having to practice extreme amounts of communication and trust).
- You’re willing to work through difficulties that may result from living together.
What Are the Disadvantages of Polyfidelity?
Polyfidelity is not always an accessible route like other forms of alternative relationships. Polyamory has its own set of challenges, let alone when you have a network of people connected in one way or another. Here are some of the most common disadvantages of being polyfidelitous:
- The group may forego a relationship with someone they all love because they want to remain faithful to their promise to each other.
- Some people may get jealous or angry if they feel they’re not getting enough attention.
- It’s more complicated when you want to date someone new. You have to convince everyone in the group — some people might refuse.
- Everyone has to be involved in communication before getting intimate with someone new.
- It’s more complicated than traditional monogamy because you must think about everyone else in the group, not just yourself and your partner.
Polyfidelity vs. Polyandry: What Are the Differences?
Polyfidelity and polyandry are non-monogamous relationship configurations but have some significant differences.
The term “poly” means “many,” so you might think that all forms of consensually non-monogamous relationships are similar. But various relationship styles fall under the umbrella of “polyamory,” and it’s essential to understand their differences.
While polyfidelity means having multiple relationships with boundaries, polyfidelitous people are more likely to be open to non-monogamy but prefer a committed relationship structure. On the other hand, polyandry is a specific polyamorous relationship where a woman has two or more husbands. Polyandrous cultures were once widespread throughout Tibet, Nepal, and India, but they’re known worldwide today.
The main difference between polyandry and polyfidelity is that the first is gender-specific, and the second isn’t.
What Are the Challenges of Polyfidelity?
Polyfidelity isn’t without its challenges. The most obvious is working through jealousy, which is more common in polyfidelity than polyamory. As described above, the difference is that polyfidelity allows for new partners to be added in a monogamous fashion, while polyamory typically allows for relationships to form freely between all group members.
Finding partners who want the same thing. It’s hard to find other people willing to give up their single lives and hook-up options for a more committed relationship style. You may have to look far and wide for someone interested in what you’re looking for.
How to Get Started With a Polyfidelitous Relationship?
Practicing polyfidelity can be a challenge. However, it’s possible to make this type of relationship work if everyone is on the same page and is committed to making it work. We asked people who practice polyfidelity for tips on getting started and making sure it works for everyone involved:
- Discuss expectations from the start.
- Talk about your boundaries.
- Be as transparent as possible with your partners.
- Have regular check-ins about how you feel about the relationship(s).
- Keep a strong sense of identity outside of your relationships.
Polyamory isn’t a relatively new idea, but science is irrefutable, and it is supposed to take many forms in the future. We are mammals and designed to want and benefit from more than one relationship at a time.
As the world becomes more accepting of alternatives to monogamy, I expect that people will find that they can fulfill all their emotional needs in various ways without sacrificing any of them. Polyfidelity offers some valuable insight into human relationships and our expectations for them.