Dating Magazine

Polyamory Vs. Polysexuality

By Polysingleish @PolySingleish

In sculpting and refining a new lexicon for communicating about relationship styles, I believe more can be said about the difference between the concept of polyamory (many loves) and polysexuality (many sexual partners). The two are not mutually exclusive, however, there’s a lot that differs one from the other, and I think it helps to be clear when seeking ethically non-monogamous relationships which you want. Or, if you want both, to at least, acknowledge that.

Let’s look at sex for a moment. We know that sex is a biological function. The desire for sexual activity is most commonly driven by a hormonal impulse which may or may not be necessarily related to procreation. One thing that biologists do seem to agree on is that humans are one of a handful of species to engage in sex for pleasurable purposes, not just recreational. Maybe it’s because, as this article informed me today, male human penises no longer have spines on them (that’s gotta hurt, right?). Sex can happen even without an emotional connection being present. Two (or more) people can meet, have sex in whatever mutually desired ways, and then ride off into the night never to see one another again.

IMG_4838Love, amor, is a far more complex thing to define. Some would say it is the result of chemical bonding impulses in your body and brain that make you latch on with attachment to someone or some thing. Poets and artists find Love to be a more transcendental experience that can be shared between one or more beings. However you define the sensation of ‘love’, I would invite you in this context to look at it as something that nurtures a bond between individuals within a dialog of mutual admiration, trust and respect that allows each person to feel a sense of connection that goes beyond the moment at hand. And yes, the moment at hand- people can move to different countries and still share a bond of love with one another.

Though for many people the ideas of sex and love are intrinsic to one another, they do not always walk together.

It is hard to separate sex from love.

I personally find it difficult to enjoy sex without an opening of the heart, some element of vulnerability that invites trust and an exchange of ideas that inspires connection with a longevity. I’ve had it, absolutely, but it was something that left me feeling drained and empty.

On the flip-side of that, I have had numerous relationships that are incredibly filled with love, and yet have nothing to do with sex at all. Friendships and familial relationships where there is plenty of love and co-nurturing are a perfect example!

As for relationships that bridge both the sexual and the amorous, I seem to have had many. Perhaps it is because I don’t have as voracious a sexual appetite as others (I would describe mine as seasonal, kind of like a monsoon- you have a drought for months and then all the rain comes at once). The sexuality is there, but it isn’t a necessity. I really enjoy engaging in activities that don’t involve sex, and building relationships. Then, when we get down to sex, it is infinitely more interesting and charged than before.

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Based on my observations- of OkCupid profiles, conversations within the poly-community, and direct experiences- I think there may be many people who are led to the poly world purely by the idea they can have sex with more than one partner. And there’s nothing wrong with that! Oh man, having multiple sexual partners is uh-mazing and so fulfilling and so much fun and boy does it keep you on your toes!
But if you are only in it for the sex, and start dating people who want love, or want Relationships, then you might run into a few problems.

Sex does not equal love does not equal Relationship.

These three can coexist or be mutually exclusive. It all depends what you want, what you are after.

Being polysexual is, I suspect, closer to what Dan Savage refers to as ‘monogamish’. If someone is monogamish, they have an emotional relationship with their ‘primary’ partner, and engage in other relationships that are based only on being sexual. Swinging could also be included in here.

Being polyloving, on the other hand, means literally loving lots of people. In the context of Relationships, you could look at married couples who love one another dearly, share common goals, dreams and passions, who support one another and bring joy into each other’s lives, and yet do not have a sexual relationship. There can still be an incredible amount of intimacy to what they share- but intimacy doesn’t need to be sexual in nature.

In conclusion, I think it is important for anyone entering the realm of non-monogamy to ask themselves what it is they seek- sex; love; relationships- and be able to articulate and communicate those needs.

Me? Relationship? Yes and no. I love the longevity of connections, though I don’t need to find myself nesting quite yet. Sex? Most definitely; though it is not my primary motivator, I wouldn’t be able to sustain an emotional relationship-y connection if that sexual chemistry wasn’t part of the equation. I’m no sex junkie. At least, not till monsoon season, and then, I love to dance in the rain with wild abandon. Love? Absolutely. Yes. I’ll have as much of that as I can handle, and have yet to experience hitting my limit with that. I’m polysexual, and I’m polyamorous. And damn proud of it too!

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