This site uses cookies to help us provide quality services. Using our services, you consent to the use of cookies.

Polyfidelity 101

An introduction to the Poly lifestyle

Before we continue:  An addendum to Topic 4.  I was unaware of the podcasts offered by PolyWeekly.  Apparently there are hundreds of them, and they are excellent.  Look for the great article on this topic, in today's newsletter, by PolyFido. 
Thanks for the feedback.  Please keep it coming.
How to give an overview of the lifestyles, when some of them don't have a name coined for them yet -- at least not a name that's widely agreed upon or easily recognised? 
There's a lot of truth in the old saying, that “a picture tells a thousand words”.  Instead of lots of words this month, I'll present you with two great pictures.  Actually, one comic strip, and one chart.
“The Diversity of Love Relationship Concepts”, by the wonderful Kirstin Rohwer in Germany, is simply great.  It shows and names 10 different lifestyles, including monogamy.  Here it is:


Please click on the image for a larger version
She also has a lot of great things to say.  Find her on


“The Map of NonMonogamy”, by the excellent Franklin Veaux in the USA, is simply fantastic.  It shows 17 different lifestyles, plus overlaps.  Here it is:
Please click on the image for a larger version
He also has a lot of great things to say.  Find him on





But I'll focus just on “polyfidelity”, for the rest of this article:

The word was coined by the Kerista communal family, in San Francisco, in the 1970s.  They carried things very (too?) far, with a rigid rotating sleeping schedule, and talked & made decisions according to formal parliamentary procedure (e.g. “point of order”, “I move an amendment”).  I met them once, back in the 70s.


Ryam Nearing also did a wonderful description of polyfidelity in her book “Loving More” (which was the basis for the website).  Hers was not as prescriptive as practised by the Kerista group.

The key points of polyfidelity are:

  • It's not monogamous. (There are more than 2 people in the relationship.)
  • It's not swinging. (Although sexual, the relationships are more about the relationship and love.)
  • It's closed, not open. (No outside casual lovers.  Lovers are accepted into, and become a part of, a “family”.)
  • It's not hierarchical.  (Partners love each other equally, rather than having favourites.  See “Gender Note”.)

*Gender Note:  When one's sexual orientation prevents an erotic attraction, you strive to have a platonic friendship-love as strong as the erotic love for the other partners.  (Helps a lot with jealousy.)

In Kirstin's cartoon (above), it could be misinterpreted that bisexuality is necessary.  But it's actually an option, depending on individual circumstances.

In Franklin's chart (above), there are 6 “Xs” in the Polyfidelity field.  But I have concerns about some of them:

  • For the wife into BDSM and the husband who isn't...  Her relationship with the other man is probably focused on sex play & is less committed, and the husband & the other man are probably not very close friends.
  • For the Dom who has a harem...  This indicates a sexist power hierarchy.  Yet polyfidelity was created in an intense atmosphere of equality, women's rights, and equal opportunity to have multiple lovers.  FYI:  Women are the driving force behind most poly books, organisations, etc.
  • For the Dom who shares their partner with Jay...  This indicates a powerlessness and objectification situation, and indicates emotional detachment instead of deep love and commitment.

But these are just my interpretations and assumptions.  I may be wrong.  The term “polyfidelity” may also have changed somewhat in the last few decades.

I hope this has given you enough to be inspired and informed, until next month's instalment on History and Perspectives.

You have no rights to post comments