#ThisIsPolyamory - Relationships that include 3 or more people - Women share their experiences with polyamory

  • Polyamory includes all relationships outside of traditional monogamy. 
  • For some, polyamory can be about a desire to explore newness with a partner; for others it can be a rejection of monogamy.
  • Judy* shares her experience with polyamory in her long-term relationship, while *Chloe shares her experience with it in her marriage - both had similar fears.
  • Divorce and break-ups are not always the end result, just like any other relationship, communication, boundaries and respect are key. 

W24 has curated six stories where real women share their experiences of being in polyamorous relationships on #ThisIsPolyamory.

If you would like to tell us your story, share it with us here.   

Polyamory has become a buzzword for alternative sexual lifestyles and it has revolutionised the way an increasing number of people experience romantic relationships.

The term polyamory stems from the Greek word "poly"- meaning many, and the Latin word "amor" - meaning love.

Polyamory is loosely defined as romantic or sexual relationships that involve more than one partner - "many loves". 

It is not limited to one configuration - it encompasses all relationships that fall outside the umbrella of traditional monogamy to include multiple lovers or partners.

These relationships can be purely sexual in nature or they might involve partnering with two or more individuals simultaneously. At its core, it is a rejection of the social norms which dictate loving only one person at a time. 

READ MORE: 'I found out my boyfriend has been seeing someone else for 7 years and I'm okay with it' – Here's why I chose polyamory 

One of the most common and stigmatised configurations of polyamory is the threesome. Threesomes can be once off sexual experiences between three individuals, but they also exist as short or long-term relationships.

While threesomes have become more common, a sense of mystery, secrecy and intrigue still exists around them - their inner workings, why people choose to engage in them, and most importantly, how sustainable they are.

The core motivation for becoming involved in a threesome can differ vastly.

For some it's about a desire to explore something new with a partner and spice things up. For others it's a lifestyle choice that eschews traditional monogamy. 

*Judy was in a stable lesbian relationship with her partner for many years.

At some point her partner expressed a desire to try polyamory. She had only been in two relationships in her life and as she approached her thirties, she realised that she wanted to explore other people and a different model of love.

At the time, Judy would have done anything to keep her partner happy and so agreed to it. They met a third party who had a shared interest in a similar lifestyle. Both women liked her and felt safe enough to invite her into their personal space. 

READ MORE: Pretoria woman on how she saved her 12-year marriage: ‘Choosing to have an open relationship 9 years into our union made us happier’ 

*Chloe was also in a stable, long term partnership when she and her husband decided to explore polyamory in their relationship. They were together for six years before they introduced a third person into their marriage.

She explains that youth, curiosity and the desire to experiment and push their boundaries were big motivating factors in their decision to open their marriage to another partner. 

Both Chloe and Judy had similar fears around how introducing a third partner would impact their relationships.

While Judy was concerned whether it would negatively impact the sanctity of her core relationship, Chloe wondered what the ultimate fate of her marriage would be.

She also was concerned about the practicalities of how their personal and shared time would be split up, and whether jealousy would taint the dynamic. 

READ MORE: PICS: Couple who fell in love with another woman gets married, they hope to add third woman to marriage  

Jealousy and rejection, two commonly experienced emotions in relationships, played out in both Chloe and Judy’s love triangles and proved to be challenging.

Judy explains: "There is a lot of jealousy and the dynamic is equally hard for the third party who will never feel entirely secure being the third to an existing couple. It's very hard to navigate, especially when feelings get involved."

Chloe experienced feelings of rejection in her dynamic with the woman who was invited into the marriage, which stemmed from an imbalance in the threesome. 

As hard as the three-way relationship was at times for Chloe, she also acknowledges that when everyone was in love, the dynamic was "sweet and growing".

She explains that It was "super fun to have a full house and doing things together felt exciting and new".

Judy experienced a heightened sexual state during her relationship, where she felt free enough to engage with two people. Her sex life with her core partner flourished as a result. 

But ultimately, the three-way relationship ended after a couple of months.

Her relationship with her girlfriend of many years, which was already on the rocks when the threesome began, started deteriorating rapidly and she and her partner started seeing the third party separately. 

READ MORE: Wife falls in love with her best friend, so does her husband - they're now living as a married throuple and the pal is expecting their first baby

Chloe’s three-way partnership also came to an end at some point, when she realised that the dynamic wasn't serving her need to feel loved and wanted.

Her husband continued seeing their girlfriend for a short while afterward. Chloe and her husband stayed together for a couple more years but ended up divorcing. They remain close friends. 

Divorce and break-ups are not necessarily the end result for all polyamorous situations, and just like any other relationship, communication, boundaries and respect are key.

Inviting a third person into a relationship has its risks. But nowadays the proliferation of dating sites and apps catering to polyamorous individuals seems to indicate that for many, three is not always a crowd. 

Are you in an unconventional relationship. Tell us about it here.

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