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But one thing is consistent: Polyamory is all about respect, open communication, and the ability to live love on terms that work for the people involved in the relationship.Here, three polyamorous individuals explain how it works for them, and clear up some common misconceptions people may have about the lifestyle.While some polyamorous relationships consist of a group of people who all have relationships with each other—considered a “closed” polyamorous relationship—others have partners who may or may not know the other people the partners are involved in.And while some individuals consider polyamory a core part of their sexual identity and identify as “polyamorous,” others may become involved in polyamorous relationships, but not necessarily consider it a core part of how they identify. Some polyamorous individuals see all their partners as equal; others may have a “primary” partner who they may live with, split bills with, or consider their emotional anchor, and then have secondary people they date and commit to, according to terms laid out between the individual and his or her primary.That’s partially because each polyamorous relationship is unique.Unlike an open relationship, where partners may have an agreement to have sex with people outside the relationship but remain committed to loving only each other, polyamorous people are often committed to loving multiple partners.In open relationships, couples may talk with their primary partner about their outside relationships, or they might decide together that it’s best to keep those exploits to themselves, says Divine.

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A poly group might consider themselves “kitchen-table poly,” which means the whole group could hang out together comfortably.

People who want to be poly, “believe you can love multiple people,” says Divine.

“They’re open to additional people in that way, and they want that emotional attachment.

Even while our society has made incredible strides in the legalization of same-sex marriage, the idea that a relationship could include more than two people has remained a taboo—even when one in five Americans claim that they have been in a relationship with more than one person.

Artsy salt-and-pepper shakers locked in an embrace.

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