A flag with three even horizontal stripes. From top to bottom they are blue, red, and black. In the center is the letter pi in yellow.

The original polyamorous flag.

Polyamory is the capability or desire to be in a relationship with more than one person at once. Polyamorous can be used both as a description of a relationship with more than two people and as description of people who desire such relationships. Polyamorous relationships can be romantic, sexual, or both; they may also be based on tertiary attraction such as queerplatonic relationships. Polyamory is not considered cheating, because all parties are aware of all other parties involved and consent to their involvement. Polyamory can be as simple as an open relationship or it can be three or more people who are all in a relationship with each other. Polyamorous is not a sexuality on its own, but more of a description on how one can experience attraction. Polyamorous people can have any sexuality.

Polyamory can involve marriage but should not be confused with polygamy, the act of marrying multiple people, which is illegal in the U.S. and many other western countries.

Ideally, polyamory/polyamorous is shortened to polyam, not poly (to avoid confusion with a shortening for Polynesian or polysexual). Polyamory should also not be confused with polysexuality.

Types of Polyamorous Relationships[edit | edit source]

  • Triad: Also known as triangle or delta. A polyamorous relationship involving three people where each person is in a relationship with all the other people.
  • V Polyamory: A relationship involving three people in which one person is in a relationship with two partners who are not in a relationship with each other. Example: A is dating B and C, but B and C are not dating each other.)
  • T Polyamory: A relationship involving three people where the third person's involvement causes the other two to be involved with each other. Example: B and C are both dating A. A's involvement requires B and C to also date each other. Without A's involvement, B and C would no longer date.
  • Quad Polyamory: Any polyamorous relationship involving four people.
  • N Polyamory: A relationship involving four people, generally two couples, where one member of one couple is also involved with one member of the other couple. Example: A and B are dating. C and D are dating. B and C are also dating, but A and D are not dating.
  • Full Quad: A relationship with four people, all of whom are involved with all of the other members.
  • Polycule: A very complex polyamorous relationship, usually with five or more people involved. The term is a portmanteau of poly- and molecule, in reference to the complex shapes of some molecules.

Approaches to Polyamory[edit | edit source]

  • Solo Polyamory: An approach to polyamory that emphasizes agency and does not seek to engage in relationships that are tightly couple-centric.
  • Polyfidelity: A form of polyamory in which all members are considered equal partners and agree to be sexually, romantically, or sensually involved only with other members of the group.
  • Hierarchical Polyamory: A polyamorous relationship structure in which a person has multiple partners who are not equal to one another in terms of interconnection, emotional intensity, or power within the relationship.
  • Egalitarian Polyamory: A polyamorous relationship structure in which all partners are considered equal to one another in regards to emotional commitment.

Flag[edit | edit source]

The original polyamorous flag was designed by Jim Evans in 1995.[1] The blue stripe stands for openness and honesty among all partners. The red stripe stands for love and passion. The black stripe represents solidarity with those who must hide their polyamorous relationships from the outside world. In the center is the Greek letter π (pi), which was originally chosen because the mathematical constant π is an irrational number with infinitely many decimal places, a play on polyamorous people "having infinite love". Another use of π was as a furtive shibboleth, a symbol whose meaning would not be understood by non-polyamorous people, to allow polyamorous people to recognize one other without risk of being outed or exposed about their non-traditional lifestyle.[2]

Over time, and coming to a head in summer 2020, the original flag came to be seen as undesirable by many in the polyamorous community.[3] Their reasons included discordant colors, controversy surrounding Jim Evans, and the pi symbol and black stripe's symbolism. Jim Evans believed that polyamorous people should and will hide their relationships, which many in the polyam community argued makes it the opposite of a "pride" flag.

Polyamorous pride flag

Modern polyamory pride flag, made to be accessible and inclusive.

The 2020 all-inclusive polyamory pride flag.

Due to this dissatisfaction with the original flag, several alternatives were proposed.[3] In many of these alternatives, the infinity heart has been a recurring symbol, much preferred over pi.

Some flags closely follow the original, making alterations such as reducing the brightness or saturation of the colours to reduce eyestrain. A 2020 design by an artist known as Y.M. took requests from the polyamorous community to keep the well-known nature of the 1995 flag whilst making it more accessible and emblematic of the community. The flag maintains the original layout with altered colours, featuring three stripes in royal blue, deep red, and black. In the central stripe is the infinity heart symbol rendered in gold. Y.M. stated that they had been discussing with many polyamorous people about the issues of the original flag and rendered their concept digitally. They also stated that they felt strongly about the use of the infinity heart, making the flag's iconography unique to and representative of the community. Other elements of the flag include retaining the trust, passion, and solidarity with closeted polyamorous people of the original flag while distancing from the problematic nature of it. [4]

Other flags significantly deviate from the 1995 design. One example of such a flag is the pride flag made by Molly W. on August 11, 2020. The flag is comprised of four stripes, all of equal height. The colors of this flag include lime green for growth, kelly green for balance, sky blue for freedom, and royal blue for trust. The infinity heart represents the concept of infinite love. This flag is intended to be inclusive of all polyamorous people, including those who may have identities that intersect with polyamory. It includes those who are aro-spec, ace-spec, or allosexual. It also includes relationship anarchists, single polyamorous people, polyamorous people who are situationally monogamous, and those who practice solo polyamory.[2]

Etymology[edit | edit source]

Polyamorous is made up of the Greek prefix poly-, meaning "many", and the Latin word amor, meaning "love".

References[edit | edit source]

Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.