FAQ: Does [my identity/relationship] count as polyamory?

In general, if you’re wondering whether your arrangement counts as polyamory, it probably does. As long as everyone involved feels respected and gives consent, any relationship that involves more than two people could reasonably be called polyamory.

The nice thing about the identity label “polyamorous” is that there is no culture to appropriate. In general, it’s a pretty open community. If you feel like the term applies to you or your relationship, go ahead and use it.

Of course, when you’re using the identifying label of any minority, you risk being seen as a representative or an ambassador. So it is not okay to do something toxic, abusive, or unethical and call it polyamory. But as long as it’s healthy and fulfilling for all people involved, go ahead.

Remember that no one is the Official Polyamorous Identity Arbiter. There is no secure safe in France containing a True Poly Relationship that we measure everyone else against. No one else gets to tell you whether your relationship “counts” or “qualifies” according to their personally-decided-upon standard. And if someone tries, ask yourself whether their validation is really necessary for your relationship to be real and healthy for you. 

The point of naming our identity or finding terms for our relationships is to help us know ourselves and each other better. It’s so we can identify our needs, learn how to be our healthiest selves, and find people who respect us.If identifying as polyamorous (or identifying your relationships as poly ones) helps you find the language and the skills to be healthy, happy, and fulfilled, then go for it! If a label isn’t working for you, if it’s giving you confusion and questions rather than answers and security, it’s not serving its purpose.

It’s more important that you have healthy, fulfilling relationships than that you find all the right collections of syllables to describe how you prefer to have relationships. The point of identity terms is to help you better communicate to yourself and your partners how to cultivate healthy, fulfilling relationships. So words are only “accurate” inasmuch as they are useful to you when building a healthy, meaningful life and community.

Previously answered questions on this: