From Monogamy to Open Relationships: Common Terms on Polyamory

As part of our new Facebook Group: A Successful Transition from Monogamy to Open, we are talking about a variety of topics within the realm of open relationships. While the group is designed for people who are exploring and considering an open relationship, or have been involved for years, I wanted to take some time to define some of the most common terms within the arena of polyamory. This isn’t meant to be an exhaustive list, but rather to help create some common language for discussion.

Many of these terms are used within the swinging community, as well as the polyamorous one, but terms should be clarified as they may be used differently. Some terms can be more common, while others are new or rare. A great resource for a more expanded list can be found at

Common Terms on Polyamory

Compersion. Compersion is an emotion that some see as the opposite of jealousy. Instead, it is the experience of happiness for your partner’s pleasure; it’s being able to feel good that your partner has found something that brings them happiness.

New Relationship Energy. New relationship energy is that initial excitement a person feels in a new relationship. This feeling of love can make the person see the world through rose colored glasses – everything seems great. This view can be unrealistic, and can bring problems to the primary relationship if energy is given to the new relationship to the neglect of others.

New Relationship Junkie. This is a person who quickly jumps from one new relationship to another because they like the feeling of the new relationship energy, but feels something is wrong when it starts to mellow and the rose-colored glasses fade.

Old Relationship Energy. This energy often gets a bad rap, but the truth is that old relationship energy brings a sense of comfort and stability that comes from an established and long-term relationship. Often in this relationship, the person feels secure and safe and isn’t worried about it ending because they have confidence in it.

Relationship Hierarchy. A hierarchy is one form a polyamorous relationship may take and includes levels of relationships that include primary, secondary and/or tertiary (first, second or third). These are usually based on the primary person as being the person they live with or spend the most time with, and so on, not that the people are less important in the relationship. For example, a tertiary partner may live in another state or even country and wouldn’t be seen often, but is still part of the open relationship.

Relationship Anarchy. This is the opposite of relationship hierarchy as a structure. In this arrangement new partners come and go, and no one has a higher place or standing. They don’t like the idea of a relationship hierarchy and instead allow relationships and connections to ebb and flow.

Triad/ Trouple. A triad or trouple is a poly relationship with three people. In this structure, all three people are fairly equally involved with each other. It can be comprised of any combination of genders.

Vee. In this poly structure, there is one person (pivot) who has two partners, but the partners don’t have a relationship with each other. Everyone is aware of each other and the individual relationships.

Group marriage or poly family. This is a larger poly group that is usually 4-6 people. It could be two married couples who have made a commitment to each other. They aren’t all legally married but have relationships within the group and not outside it. Some groups allow members to have partners outside of the group while other do not. The later is referred to as poly fidelity.

Metamour. Metamour is a term used to refer to the partner’s other partner. For example, a wife may refer to her husband’s other partner as her metamour. They are often not involved with each other intimately, but know them.

Solo poly. A solo poly is a person who is not in a committed relationship and may have multiple relationships.

Want to learn more about open relationships, polyamory and swinging? Join our private Facebook group for more discussion, including videos addressing questions at

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