The Critical Difference Between Polyamory And Cheating

Polyamory is about loving multiple people, not betraying them.

Last updated on May 14, 2024

Polyamorous relationship PeopleImages | Canva

"My husband bought me a beautiful dress for my birthday and I went away for a trip to the mountains with my boyfriend," Tessa shared in one of our coaching sessions. Tessa is not cheating. Her husband knows about her boyfriend, and her boyfriend knows about her husband. And all are okay with polyamory. Tessa is in a polyamorous relationship and is part of a growing population who are insightful and bold enough to live out what works for them: non-exclusive, committed relationships.


There are stories of cheating partners abound: the religious politician caught with his pants down in a bathroom; the devoted wife found to have a cutie on the side. Most of us jump to condemnation and feel the stirrings of fear: What if my partner cheats? What if I have a wandering eye? Cheating destroys many a marriage; betrayal is devastating to the trust and intimacy necessary for long-term commitment. But being with someone else doesn't have to be betrayal, or impact trust and intimacy.

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When I mention that I have clients who are polyamorous, the reaction is usually one of surprise, and then the assumption that they must be emotionally damaged people in some way, unable to commit and a threat to other people's monogamous relationships. By contrast, my polyamorous clients tend to be more honest about their needs and wants, having forged the challenging road to claim what truly works for them in a culture that is terrified of female autonomy and independence. They have freed themselves from the potentially crippling expectations of society to create partnerships that are specific to them:

  • These long-term relationships are based on ongoing open and authentic communication among all parties.
  • They are loving and generous.
  • They encourage autonomy and interdependence without ownership.
  • They are more concerned with authenticity than exclusivity.

RELATED: How To Tell If You're Polyamorous — Or Just Afraid Of Commitment

They recognize that we are all multi-faceted and that it's okay not to be all things to one person. The trust they develop is tested by the freedom they afford each other. I am myself monogamous, knowing since childhood that I was seeking my soulmate and partner. Having found him, I am sated intimately and emotionally. 

 The Big Difference Between Polyamory And Cheating Pixabay/Pexels


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Still, I find myself uplifted and heartened by my polyamorous sisters, proud of them for walking a path that is deeply counter-cultural in a historical moment that seems bent on controlling, restricting, and punishing women. Ultimately, it is up to each of us to find out what works for us, whether it adheres to our cultural norms or not. By probing our souls and living from our truths, we create lives we are thrilled to be living, in a world that desperately needs us to shine our lights.

RELATED: 5 Ways To Tell If A Man Is Truly Polyamorous (Or Just An Unfaithful Loser)

Cara Cordoni is a leadership and business Coach with more than 20 years of experience in individual and organizational development. She is an experienced executive, consultant, entrepreneur and writer. She coaches start-up founders and management teams, courageous risk-takers, and people who are determined to make their way and a better way for the world.