If I'm not "in love" with multiple people, is that still polyamory?

I know it may sound like a silly question,but do you have to be IN LOVE with more people at the same time to be polyamorous or you can be even if you just LIKE more people at the same time and feel that there is space for them in your heart?

Of course! If you are romantically or sexually interested in multiple people, or see the potential for that kind of relationship with multiple people, that falls squarely under the “polyamorous” umbrella. Just like all other relationship orientations, polyamory allows for the whole spectrum of crushes, flings, flirting, early dating, etc. If a monogamous straight woman has a crush on a guy, or thinks she might like to date him, or is casually dating him but not in love yet - she’s still straight and monogamous! Her straightness and monogamy encompass all of those feelings about men, not just “love.”

Often, polyamorous people use language like “love” because it does a better job of “validating” our relationships to a wider society. Making polyamory about “love” reassures people that our relationships are non-threatening and pro-social. It’s similar to the way that early gay marriage advocates focused on “just like you” images of lifetime commitment, desire for homeownership and parenthood, etc. It’s gross and unfair that some people have to fake a status-quo-upholding facade to be respected, but it’s a very common pattern with people whose relationships face scrutiny and judgment.

But by framing polyamory as about “love,” we do ourselves a disservice by neglecting to include the whole reality of our experiences. Love and life partnership are part of polyamory, sure, but there’s also dating, and sex, and plenty of other stuff! We should make sure to recognize and honor all of this within ourselves and our community, even if sometimes we have to sanitize the image or perform a fairytale version for the external world.