People Who Practice Polyamory Are Opening Up About The Rules They Follow In Their Relationships, And It's Super Eye-Opening

    "Don't bring anything home that requires antibiotics."

    The concept of love really has no set definition. Love is limitless, and there are endless ways of embracing, celebrating, and sharing it. Though many people are more familiar with the "conventional" concept of monogamy, polyamory is also a way of expressing and sharing love.

    artistic interpretation of four people standing together romantically

    We asked polyamorous members of the BuzzFeed Community to share with us the guidelines and boundaries they implement in their romantic relationships. The responses were very insightful, and we certainly learned a lot! Here are some of the most interesting responses:

    1. "I have recently come into the fact that I am more comfortable with polyamory than I ever was with monogamy. I am a solo poly, and I currently have two partners, and two friends with benefits. None of them have met, and I don't know that they will. The number one key is honesty. I told them all from the start who I am, and made sure that they are comfortable with it. Also, I do check-ins from time to time and make sure we are still on the same page, and gauge if things have changed that needs to be discussed. Having open communication without the fear of repercussions is very important. I also make sure that when I am with someone, they are the focus. I won't text someone else or look for more dates. I will be with them in the moment."


    2. "My partners and I have very few rules. We speak up when we see red flags in metamours (a partner's partner), but there is no veto. We don't force anyone to be friends. We also have conversations before stopping the use of barriers with anyone. That way, if someone isn't comfortable, they have the opportunity to decide to use barriers again or voice their opinions about an increase in STI testing. Otherwise, everyone handles their relationships as they see fit, and there's an expectation that you are open, honest, and genuine with your people."


    many hands holding each other

    3. "My and my husband are both bisexual. We agreed polyamory works for us only for the same sex. I'm welcome to date a girl, while he's welcome to date a boy. We don't deal with the opposite sex out of respect for our marriage. It's a little weird to a lot of people, but I love being able to explore my sexuality while being in a comfortable relationship. Also, the bi stigma for males is very difficult and this gives my husband freedom to be himself honestly."


    4. "I live with my partners. They are both straight and only committed to me. We're really amazing friends, so our rules are: open communication, no sex when the other person is there, spend time together as a unit, and set aside our own personal time."


    a throuple

    5. "No rules. We're adults. We're open and honest about being non-monogamous and having multiple partners. Also, keep in mind that boundaries are *personal* and about what we allow people to do with our own body, our own personal space, and our own possessions...and partners are not possessions. Also, polyamory is not about couples. It's about individuals exercising their self-sovereign birthright to be the sole deciders of what they do with their own heart and body, even when we are in pair-bonds or multiple pair-bonds."


    6. "We talk about everything from the get-go. Interested in a new partner? Awesome! Tell me about them, their expectations, etc. Condoms are required with partners (other than your spouse), and the new partner must be willing to meet and have a friendly relationship with all other people in the relationship. They don't have to be besties, but they should be able to have civil conversations and interactions. In general, we talk about everything. My relationship is currently a triad, so all three of us discuss things and make sure we are all happy and everyone’s needs are met. Communication is key, especially when it comes to scheduling, emotions, etc."


    multi-colored condoms

    7. "Always meet up together, at least the first time, to make sure you're both comfortable with the dynamics. If you have no qualms, single meet-ups are probably fine afterward. No secret lovers. We both know each other's 'buddies.'"


    8. "Share a Google calendar if you have more than two partners. With work, events, and free time, if things are scheduled and everyone can see them, it easier to make sure everyone is getting the quality time they need. And, that helps avoid double-booking."


    a calendar

    9. "No alcohol or drugs that could effect any set boundaries."


    10. "Communicate when you are uncomfortable. Realize that everyone has expectations and needs that may not be clear to everyone. Take time for every partner individually. Have fun and find humor in unexpected events. Take time for yourself. Maintain privacy in some way in your life. Don't take sides in partners' fights, but do be honest if asked."


    a stick figure couple made of paper clips together, then one of the figures reaching towards another third stick figure

    11. "The only agreement I have with my long term nesting partner (that's a descriptive label, NOT prescriptive) is that we will tell one another about any new sexual interactions that introduce greater risk into the polycule. This is not so much a rule as it is a deal breaker. If I can't trust someone to honestly share when they've had sex in a way that increases my risk of contracting an STI, then I CANNOT be sexual with them. My body and health are way too valuable to risk that. And the lack of trust in that one area would impact other realms of trust, too."


    12. "I have been practicing solo polyamory for three years now. To me, solo polyamory means that I am my own primary. I don't live with my partner and I have no intention to remarry. I have one partner and one friend with benefits. They haven't met and maybe they never will. They don't have to be friends to be involved in my life. I love how polyamory allows me freedom to explore as many relationships and connections as I want without shame or guilt. I love knowing that I don't have to be my partner's 'everything.' There's so much room for growth and change. It is truly the best way for me to experience and share love."


    heart pin holding multiple felt hearts

    13. "Right now, my nesting partner and I aren't having sex because of logistical reasons, so she wouldn't need to tell me immediately if she had a 'risky' sexual interaction (i.e. didn't use protection with someone who didn't present proof of negative STI tests and/or vaccinations). But, she would still tell me because we are each other's best friend and we WANT to let each other know when significant things happen in our lives! Plus, we could decide to have sex at any time really, so if she tells me once a risky thing happens, then it'll be smoother for us to initiate and follow-through with sex if/when we decide to have it again!"


    14. "Currently in a polyamorous relationship that's going on 11 years. We initially met as a casual hookup, and are still going strong. Our rules are, if possible, try to let the other know BEFORE something happens, so the other can veto. If we can't say anything before the encounter (spontaneous spur of the moment), then we have to tell the other as soon as we can afterward (it's cheating if we try to hide it). If it's an overnight thing or out of town, GPS must be turned on our phone for safety, and we must at least send a text every hour or two just letting the other know we're okay. So far, it's just been casual hookups for us. We've talked about the idea of adding a third person to our relationship, but not in any hurry."


    artistic painting of a throuple

    15. "I really recommend the book Polysecure. Everyone in my poly community has been raving about it. It’s clear, concise, and shows that there are many ways to be in a poly relationship, not just one. My boundaries surround emotional connection and not sex. Poly works for me because I’m an extremely direct communicator and am usually able to say what’s on my mind even when it hurts or is uncomfortable for myself or others. I’ve run the gamut of monogamy to 'free love' and I find that as long as everyone knows everything (complete transparency) and consents enthusiastically, relationships become much more fulfilling, whether open or closed. Personally my hard lines are: no mutual friends, no exes, and no coworkers. Easy enough, right? ;)"


    16. "1. No sneaking around behind my back. You want to spend the night at her place, just let me know so I'm not up all night worried that you're dead in a ditch. 2. Don't bring anything home that requires antibiotics. 3. You're not allowed to love her more than me. I don't care about sex, but if you start spending all of your time and effort on her, it's going to be a problem. I got along with her amazingly well. The only fight we got into was because three people were sharing one bathroom when she slept over."


    list of dos and donts

    17. "My husband and I have been polyamorous for 20+ years, and currently live with my longterm life-partner in a linear throuple. The key to our relationship has always been open and honest communication about everything, not just romantic relationships. Polyamory takes a level of trust that is not seen in average marriages. We also make time to be affectionate, not just sexual with each other. Showing appreciation goes a long way in helping your partner know that even if they aren't the only one in your life, they are still an irreplaceable part of it. I wish more monogamous marriages were like ours. The third parent is super helpful too in spreading the weight of child-rearing and careers. Having 'three legs' to stand on has allowed us opportunities that none of us would have in a conventional relationship."


    18. "Always be open and honest with every partner, sexual or emotional. Communication is required to establish how your poly relationships will look. Ours has hierarchy, where the primary relationship stands above the rest. Rules are always subject to change. Anyone can call a 'hash night' where raw emotional conversations occur with their own set of rules, like no angry responses, and open and accepting communication only. If someone calls a hash night, the polycule has to immediately get it scheduled. Transparency! We often have group messages where everyone builds the relationship together with only a small amount of 'private' relationship building done. Anyone's phone is subject to inspection as we should all be transparent and feel like we can discuss anything with each other without fear of retributions."


    hands holding cell phones with hearts between them

    19. Finally: "There are no rules. There are boundaries. 1) Be secure in your relationship before you open the door, and make sure everyone is really OK with opening up the relationship. 2) Communicate, and when you do, be consistent, honest, and open. From the start, understand how much you want to share and/or want to hear. Some people like all the details, and some don't. We're all human, and though some hide it better than others, we're all insecure and jealous on some level. 3) Respect each other’s space and choice of partners. Keep a respectful distance. I may not agree with who he chooses, but it's his choice. 4) Make time for just you two. Do NOT forget this started with the two of you. 5) Make time for yourself. Be comfortable with being alone and do things just for yourself. There has to be a 'ME' before there can be a 'WE.' 6) Be open. You have no idea what could happen."


    Thank you to everyone who shared with us! It's really eye-opening and awesome to learn more about love and human connection. If you are also polyamorous and would like to share anything about your experience or outlook, feel free to continue the conversation in the comments below!

    Note: Submissions have been edited for length and/or clarity.