What is the difference between an open relationship and a polyamorous relationship?

Finished watching a tv show (Sense8) where a woman and her husband enter into a polygamous relationship with another man. I was shocked that this is a thing. This got me thinking, is being in a polygamous relationship the same as in being in a open relationship?

P. S. Even though I would never consider an open relationship...
I firmly believe people can live their lives the way they see fit if it’s not hurting any parties.

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Most Helpful Guys

  • In an open relationship you are emotionally attached to one person but can have sex with anyone. In a polyamorous relationship, you aren't just sleeping around, you have multiple romantic partners and you wouldn't sleep with people outside that. Its like being in a monogamous relationship but with multiple people at the same time.

    I was glad Sense8 got a finale because the end if season 2 was such a cliffhanger... but I was pretty disappointed with how they ended it. They tried way too hard to tie all the relationships and stories up in a nice, perfect little bow. It was like an optimistic, lighthearted fan wrote the finale episode.

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  • An open relationship is where two people are in a relationship together, but still date or have sex with other people on the side. Essentially, they are not exclusive with one another. Example: Mark and Jessie are boyfriend and girlfriend, but every Saturday night, they go out to different bars, meet different people, and have sex with them... and the other person is aware.

    A polyamorous relationship is where an exclusive relationship exists between more than two people. Example: Mark, Jill, and Caitlyn are all "dating" each other. They are all committed to each other, and ONLY date or have sex with the other two.

    Does that make sense, or should I put a little more detail into it?

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Most Helpful Girls

  • Being in an open relationship means one or both is allowed to see other people. This is usually kept entirely separate, and people don't know about their partners other partners.
    Being in a polyamorous relationship means one or both seeing other people if they wanted, or finding someone to join them. Either way, people know about what goes on with others seeing others.

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  • No, not at all. An open relationship is a normal committed relationship where both parties are allowed to have sexual partners outside of one another, but the romance stays between the two. Think of it as going out and having sex as you like, but always coming back to the same person at the end of the day.
    Polyamory is a little more complicated but at its simplest you can break it down by its morphemes (or root words).
    Poly= many
    Amor= love
    So its a person with multiple romantic partners. It comes in many different forms however and is often misunderstood because of this. Not all parties are always dating one another, however. To make is simple let's say there's 3 people involved in the relationship. We'll call them Frank, Hazel, and Leo. I'm this scenario Frank and Hazel were initially in a normal, managomous relationship. The couple meets Leo and all become very close; now this could go one of many ways. The one most people would assume when thinking of Polyamory is that both Frank and Hazel develope a deep, romantic attraction to Leo. Which is common and very normal, so in this case Frank and Hazel would decide, since both love him in a romantic sense, to include him in the relationship. So here all three are dating one another but it's only involving these 3 parties, just like between two people except there's another person also dating the couple and no one outside those in the relationship are involved.
    But, there are other options where possibly ONLY Hazel or ONLY Frank falls in love with Leo. For this example let's say its Hazel inlove with Leo, but still is completely and utterly devoted and in love with Frank. Upon discussing it together, let's say Frank is comfortable with Hazel also dating Leo as well as her dating himself, but he only has platonic feelings towards Leo (or seeing him as a friend). In this instance, Hazel would also date Leo as well as date Frank, but all parties involved are happy and comfortable with the situation. It's not cheating because all are in the know and happy with the situation, just Hazel has two boyfriends. This could also apply to Frank who would then have a boyfriend and a girlfriend, but Hazel and Leo are not dating each other.
    There's many different ways this could go and more people could always be involved, but this is the simplist way to put it.
    I hope this helps!!!

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What Guys Said 57

  • Open relationship is when a couple who love each other decide its okay to have sex with other people, but don't necessarily invite each other to be involved. As a mostly-asexual, I found it useful for a bit to maintain a relationship with a mostly-nympho I had fallen in love with over long distance, we didn't find out about the sexual incompatibility until we moved in together. Unfortunately it didn't work for long, because I got comfortable and she caught feelings.

    A polyamorous relationship is nearly equal intimacy with all people involved. There was a lesbian "thruple" that made the news a few years back, that's a good example. The movie Savages (2012) was big in theaters, an example where not all persons had to be attracted to each other as long as they loved each other.

    And polygamy is a marriage between multiple spouses, but generally revolves around a main spouse that the rest are married to primarily. I. E. a man has multiple wives, or a woman has multiple husbands. As far as I know, there hasn't been a same-sex polygamous relationship where an individual man takes multiple spouses, but I don't know the intricacies of every "thruple" out there. A polygamous marriage can be polyamorous, or it can just be open where the multiple spouses simply tolerate each other for the sake of the main one. There's plenty of religious colonies that practice polygamy, "Sister Wives" is a TV show about it, and Futurama did "Beast with a Billion Backs" that started with Fry being part of a 7-person polygamous tolerant relationship, and later featured everyone on Earth becoming polygamous polyamorous with outerdimensional being Yivo.

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  • well technically polyamory means you have actual feelings if not love for different people. whereas an open relationship suggests that there is just the allowance for sexual encounters with other people

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  • I think both are messed up period , what's the point of being in a relationship with someone that you can't commit to? If you need other sexual partners to fulfill you then just become single and selfish , with all the diseases out there I think it's fowl that people do this sort of shit like they are retarded or something. I could never give my heart to someone that was going somewhere else to be satisfied, if you can't committ to one person then stay single

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    • Poly IS a commitment. It's a commitment to more people so honestly it's even tougher and takes more courage to hold together.

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    • Yea both r fucked up lol why it's easier just to stay single

    • Humans can't stay single. We are social animals. We depend on each other to survive and multiply.

  • Open: Sees other people, sexually. It's open sex.
    Poly: Have loving romantic relationships with multiple people. Including sex.

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  • I think open is where the 2 people involved in the relationship agree that they can sleep with other people, but don't necessarily want to hear about it.

    Polyamorous is when there are more than 2 people involved full time in the relationship (as is the case in Sense).

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  • Actually, while the two share some similar characteristics, they’re very different. “An open relationship is one where one or both partners have a desire for sexual relationships outside of each other, and polyamory is about having intimate, loving relationships with multiple people

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  • Not really. An open relationship is usually 1 - 1. Poly is more 1 with many, and those many also being with others and no one has a issue with it. Its almost like one big orgy, lol.

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  • Well I think open relationships is just one where they are free to have sex with other people
    Polyamory is having multiple more or less equal relationships simultaneously
    Polygamous means multiple spouses I think? Bigami is one person with two spouses so poly must be 3+ I think in a word definition sense they should be in one relationship together the lot of them but I believe in legal terms that is not the case

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  • An open relationship is typically only sexually open, which means you're emotionally committed, and love only 1 person, but have sex with them, and are free to have sex with other people, as long as emotions aren't involved with the other people.

    Polyamorous relationships are open both sexually and emotionally AFAIK, where you have multiple partners, spreading the love and emotional connections between all of them.

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  • Open relationships are where both parties may sleep with other people but not form romantic relationships with them.

    Polyamory is the same but permits romance with other people.

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  • I refuse to acknowledge them as anything different. They don't deserve to be treated differently. Both are atrocious acts.

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    • How atrocious can they be if you don't even know what they are?

    • @scottalanmiller who said I don't know what they are. I know full well what each means, I'm just saying both should be treated the same. They should both be treated negatively as a society we should say, " this behavior is undesirable".

  • I think polyamorous is sharing time and dedication to another person/relationship to include feelings/love towards others. An open relationship would be a wife/gf or whatever being able to act on lust, butterflies, in the moment, and fun and pleasure and stops there. Essentially a toy, an escape, an ego boost whatever, just being human. Poly is dedication, shared time, shared feelings.

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  • I think in an open relation, your open to just fuck other people, but not allowed to have that like emotional connection or shouldn’t anyway. Polygamy is where your actually committed and dating multiple people... I mean either way I feel like it wouldn’t end well for the original parties involved

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  • An Open relationship is like a hall-pass from your commitments and it stands to see whether you found your class more interesting than what you found outside. So, no strings attached except for just the two people who started out on one.

    Polyamory is that weekend assignment that you could do either with only your best bud or if you both found someone cool enough to hang out the whole weekend with. So basically it comes with a whole entangled yarn of strings between all the people involved.

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  • I think open just means you're non-monogamous. Polyamory is more of a broad term. It can mean that people have multiple partners or that there is a kind of family group with multiple. Wives/girlfriends and husbands/boyfriends who ate all involved with each other. I think about it like topology. Examples
    W-W-M. The central woman has two or more partners who don't interact. I'd call this "hub and spoke".

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    • M
      / \
      W-- M--W---M
      \ /
      M

      This is a mesh. There are a million possible combinations. Some connection being actual love, othersbeing just sex or dating

  • open: multiple sexual but romance is still between the two
    poly: multiple romantic and sexual

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  • Open relationship - You can have sex with anyone you want, so long as you only have feelings for me.

    Poly relationship - You can only have sex and feelings for people I say you can have sex and feelings for.

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  • In an open relationship you are with this person and that person is okay with you being with others. A polyamorous relationship is when you have a relationship with many people at the same time, and they might be included like in a love circle. They're all a relationship. Instead in an open relationship you can have sex with anyone that is not necessarily involved or a one night stand. I think in a polyamorous relationship you may not be expected to have something with someone outside that circle.

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  • As far as I know polyamorous is when the relationship has more than 2 people in it and they live together and stuff. While open relationship just means that both can be with other people too but those people are not part of the relationship itself.

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  • Polyamoury is many loves. You're usually dating more than one person openly. Open relationships tend to be for married folk. I rarely hear about open relationships consist of dating, usually just sex.

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What Girls Said 21

  • From what I understand a poly relationship is when a person has a relationship with more than one person. An open relationship is typically a normal relationship with the option of having intimate experiences with other people not involved in that relationship.

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  • A polyamorous relationship still has structure and boundaries. The parties involved can only be “entertained” by one another, within the little circle. Most of the time, there is more of an emotional connection going on. But an open relationship doesn’t really involve too much emotion and the the two people are just doing whatever with whoever.

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  • Poly is about being in a committed relationship with more than one person. So all involved were agreed to have that relationship. Open is more about letting partners have sex with whoever as long as they remain in a committed relationship with them. Dynamics are always crazy in poly. You can have one that is like a triangle, a line, a square. Either way, not for me. It looks glamorous, but it has just as many, if not more, problems than monogamous.

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  • My marriage is open... i love my husband heart and soul and he the same.. but we have the allowence to have other sexaul partners casually.

    Pollys tend to have several genuine partners that are treated the same way as a husband wife fiannce would be they just have more..
    And the polys differ from those that have secret other famllies

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  • Poly is a relationship with three people, open is where you can have sex with who ever you want, granted no feelings are involved. That’s my understanding at least.

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  • Open relationship:
    You are a couple like any other, but you allow each other certain sexual encounters outside of the relationship.

    Polyamorous relationship:
    You are in a relationship with more than one person.

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  • Polyamorous is a committed relationship with consent of all parties if another is do join. Open relationship is a relationship between 2 individuals with the "freedom" to engage with other people for whatever reason, most of time it's sex.

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  • In an open relationship, two people that are committed to only each other allow each other to have sex with other people. In a polyamorous relationship, someone is equally committed to two or more people at the same time.

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  • Poly's actually develope relationships and can love more than one person. People in open relationships love only each other but are ok with each other having sex with others with or without each other. Most swingers are open.

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  • An open relationship is a type or style of polyamorous relationship.

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  • Open relationship is just sex with others. Polyamory is when they have romantic relationships, like dating that person too.

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  • I dont really know what polyamorous means but my guess is they are pretty much the same-it is having sex with others

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    • "amorous" means "loving". Polyamory is a commited relationship between more than two people.

  • Polyamory means having multiple relationships at once, an open relationship usually means the people in the relationship get to sleep around

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  • Open means you can fuck others but be your SOs main bitch. Polyamorous means you can both have multiple partners at the same time.

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  • Nothing really, its an an agreement to see/sleep with other people on the side while still in a "relationship" with the other person.

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  • Yeah, it's the same thing

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    • Absolutely not. This is the same as claiming love and sex to be synonymous.

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    • @scottalanmiller I think I'd be even less likely to do it if I've found "the one." Why would I want to share? And why would I want to be shared? The thought alone makes me a little nauseous.

    • Well when you've found that person, and you've had some time together, and you have no jealousy and you have total trust, remember this conversation and get back to me and let me know :) It's certainly not for everyone, but it is surprising what that situation causes to change.

  • Complicated question

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  • Poly = one man marrying many women and vice versa.
    Open relationship = open game for anyone.

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  • Open relationship mean you have sex with other people, while polyamorous means you have relationship with more than one partner. That's the difference I believe.

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  • Poly is having multiple SOs, or everyone os am SO To each other. And open relationship is having one SO but other sexual partners

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