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Is Polyamory a Form of Sexual Orientation?

When Polyamory IS an Orientation

Some of the respondents in my 20-year study of polyamorous families identified polyamory as their sexual orientation. People who experience polyamory as a sexual orientation often describe themselves as being “wired that way” and report that they could not choose to be different even they tried (and some have tried doggedly). Poly-by-orientation people often mention being oriented toward multiple people since childhood, such as pretending to have multiple spouses when they played house or socializing in groups instead of having a single best friend. Many emphasize a profound discomfort with monogamy and an inability to remain in monogamous relationships. One respondent summarized monogamous relationships as “like wearing shoes two sizes too small – you can cram your foot in there momentarily, but you won’t like it and won’t be able to walk very far.”

Compass, Pixabay, Public Domain
Source: Compass, Pixabay, Public Domain
Even with this profound discomfort, many poly-by-orientation folks had tried hard to be monogamous at some point in their past and ended up cheating anyway. Some decided monogamy was not for them independently and simply stopped making monogamous agreements with anyone, and only later took on a polyamorous identity when they heard the term in conversation or online. Others discovered consensual non-monogamy and (usually with great relief) decided to become polyamorous once they realized it was an option. Poly-by-orientation people generally do not foresee a possible future that includes monogamy, and will most likely be in and/or desire some form of open relationship for the rest of their lives. If they break up from a polyamorous relationship, it does not change their internal identification as a polyamorous person.
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