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

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Everywhere you look at the moment, people are talking about polyamorous relationships and other kinds of non-monogamy. 

It is trendy to have an open relationship. People talk about how hard it is for one person to meet all/most of your needs and how much healthier it is to have a variety of places to get your needs met. It’s the responsible way of managing varied and disparate needs.

After all, they are your needs. Why should a partner be responsible for them?

It used to be that people talked about polyamory in terms of swinging, which often involved a heterosexual couple going to a swingers' party or club and meeting either a single woman or another couple and having some great group sex. 

Now, the term "non-monogamy" encompasses all of this and so much more. 

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The forms and types of polyamory

There are couples who are "monogamish," who only sanction a small deviation from monogamy. There are couples who practice relationship anarchy, and the patterns of their relationships defy all conventions

There are also people who are into single polyamory, which is when someone is single and chooses to remain single (and usually lives alone). They tend to have a variety of romantic and sexual relationships but don’t buy into the "escalator relationship" model, which says that after a certain period of time in a relationship, you have to take the "next step" and become more committed — become exclusive, move in together and eventually get married.   

There is another group of people who choose to stay single and be non-monogamous because they find it hard to commit to a long-term relationship. Some of these people have lots of short-term monogamous relationships, called serial monogamy. Others choose to be involved with two or three or more relationships at one time. Often, these relationships remain fairly casual and end when there's any suggestion that things move toward a more serious commitment.

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Busting a big polyamory myth

It is a myth that polyamory doesn't require commitment. People who are polyamorous often have multiple committed relationships.

They might live with more than one partner. Or they might live with one partner and have a committed relationship with another partner. They could be married to one person and be raising a child with another. All of these examples involve high levels of commitment. Polyamory does not equal casual relationships. 

Some forms of non-monogamy may lend themselves to casual relationships though. For example, if you are part of a swinging lifestyle, your relationships outside your main relationship may well be primarily sexual and also casual. If you and your partner operate on a "don’t ask, don’t tell" policy, it is likely your other relationships are casual. 

If you are single, it may be harder to determine if you are skirting commitment or if you are truly polyamorous or non-monogamous. Many people have more committed relationships, rather than fewer, so it's possible you may just not be ready for commitment at this time, or you may not have found the right relationship yet. 

It can be a struggle to figure out if non-monogamy or polyamory really is for you, or if you are truly afraid of commitment. 

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Here are 10 questions to ask yourself to find out if you're polyamorous — or just afraid of commitment:

1. Are you a possessive person?

To find out, think through your romantic relationships and your friendships. Do you want to have all the undivided attention from the other person? Do you find it hard to share your partner or friend with others or upset when your friend makes a new friend? 

If you answer these questions "yes," you are likely possessive. Possessive people find non-monogamy hard. Some possessive people still engage in non-monogamous lifestyles, but often they are lopsided ones where the possessive person is allowed to have other partners and encounters, and their partner is not allowed to do the same.

2. Are you easily jealous?

If you are, you are likely to find polyamory more difficult. All people are liable to becoming jealous so this is not a deal breaker for polyamory. As long as you are able to handle your jealousy, you can still be non-monogamous. 

3. Do you find yourself having feelings and attractions for more than one person at a time?

If you find yourself in this position often, you may well be polyamorous.

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4. Have you found it a challenge to be monogamous?

Have you had affairs or wanted to have affairs in most of the monogamous relationships you were in? If so and if you are willing to be honest and open, non-monogamy may work better for you.

5. Do you enjoy engaging with and getting to know lots of different people? 

This is a sign that polyamory might be for you.

6. Do you identify as bisexual or gender fluid?

Are you sexually attracted to men and women? Are you attracted to people who are gender fluid or transgender as well?  If so, do you feel upset at the idea of ‘giving up’ sexual relationships with one or more genders because you enter a monogamous relationship? Polyamory means you can continue to have sex with all the genders you are attracted to. 

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7. Are you afraid of commitment because you have FOMO?

All commitments contain some boundaries — if only because we have a limited amount of time and when you make a commitment to someone, you give them more of your time.  If you have FOMO, then you may not be non-monogamous, simply afraid of what you will miss.

8. Do you have good communication skills?

Do you prefer open and honest relationships? Are you able to be direct in your communication? While all of these skills are important for all types of relationships, good communication skills are essential for non-monogamous/polyamorous relationships.

RELATED: 5 Ways Open Relationships Are Better For You, According To Science

9. Does the thought of your partner having sex with someone else turn you on? 

Do you regularly fantasize about threesomes, couple swapping, and orgies? If so, polyamory may well be for you.

10. Do you enjoy sexual variety or have a high sex drive?

Polyamory offers the possibility of a wider variety of intimate relationships and so a mismatch in sex drive is not a problem.

If you think polyamory is for you, the next step is to figure out what type of non-monogamy you are attracted to and start thinking about how it might work for you. 

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Dr. Lori Beth Bisbey is a psychologist and intimacy/sex coach who helps individuals, couples, and polyamorous groups create their ideal last relationships.