Types of Polyamory

7+ Types of Polyamory (Varieties of Ethical Non-Monogamy)

Welcome to our in-depth guide on the different types of polyamory. In a world where traditional monogamy is not the only option, polyamory offers individuals the opportunity to engage in multiple romantic or sexual relationships with the full knowledge and consent of all parties involved. This form of ethical non-monogamy allows for diverse dynamics and relationship structures, providing a rich tapestry of love and connection.

Whether you’re new to polyamory or seeking to expand your understanding, this article will delve into the various ways people engage in polyamorous relationships. From hierarchical and non-hierarchical polyamory to solo polyamory and relationship anarchy, we’ll explore the nuances and possibilities within each type. By gaining insights into these polyamory varieties, you’ll be better equipped to navigate the complexities, challenges, and joys of polyamorous relationships.

Key Takeaways

  • Polyamory encompasses a range of relationship structures and dynamics.
  • Types of polyamory include hierarchical, non-hierarchical, solo, relationship anarchy, kitchen table, parallel, triad, and quad polyamory.
  • Hierarchical polyamory involves prioritizing partners, while non-hierarchical polyamory treats all relationships as equal.
  • Solo polyamory emphasizes personal autonomy and independent living while engaging in multiple relationships.
  • Relationship anarchy rejects societal norms and labels, focusing on individual desires and needs.

Hierarchical Polyamory

Hierarchical polyamory is one of the many types of polyamorous relationships that individuals may choose to engage in. In this form of polyamory, partners are given different levels of priority, with one partner being designated as the primary partner and others as secondary partners. The primary partner typically receives more time, attention, and decision-making power in the relationship.

It is common in hierarchical polyamory to use labels such as “primary” and “secondary” to indicate the level of importance assigned to each partner. This hierarchical structure can provide a sense of stability and security for those involved, as well as a clear understanding of their role within the relationship. However, it is important to note that imposed hierarchies can be problematic and even abusive if not approached with care and consideration for individual autonomy.

In hierarchical polyamory:

  • The primary partner is given priority in terms of time, decision-making, and other aspects of the relationship.
  • Secondary partners may have less involvement in major decisions and may have fewer expectations placed on them.
  • Communication is crucial to ensure that all parties feel heard and that their needs and desires are taken into account.

It is essential to approach hierarchical polyamory with open and honest communication, respect for individual autonomy, and a commitment to the well-being and happiness of all partners involved.

Table: Comparing Hierarchical Polyamory and Non-Hierarchical Polyamory

Hierarchical Polyamory Non-Hierarchical Polyamory
Primary partner receives more time and decision-making power All relationships are treated as equal
Labels like “primary” and “secondary” are used No ranking system or labels
Partners have different levels of involvement in major decisions All partners have equal say in decision-making
Imposed hierarchy can lead to power imbalances and conflicts Emphasis on individual autonomy and freedom

Non-Hierarchical Polyamory

In non-hierarchical polyamory, all relationships are valued equally, without the imposition of labels or rankings. This type of polyamory allows for the organic growth of each relationship, giving partners the freedom to negotiate and define their own boundaries. Rather than adhering to a predefined structure, non-hierarchical polyamory emphasizes individual autonomy and the empowerment of each partner to create a relationship dynamic that meets their needs.

One of the key aspects of non-hierarchical polyamory is the absence of a primary or secondary partner. Instead, all relationships are given equal importance, with each partner having an equal say in decision-making and involvement in the lives of their partners. This dynamic fosters a sense of collaboration, trust, and open communication, as each individual’s needs and desires are considered and respected.

The flexibility and freedom inherent in non-hierarchical polyamory allow for the exploration of diverse relationship dynamics. For some, this may mean engaging in multiple romantic partnerships simultaneously, while for others, it may involve maintaining several long-term, committed relationships. The emphasis on individual autonomy and consent ensures that each partner can navigate their relationships based on their own desires and personal growth.

Challenges and Benefits of Non-Hierarchical Polyamory

While non-hierarchical polyamory offers numerous benefits, such as equal relationships and freedom from societal norms, it also presents certain challenges. One challenge is the need for effective communication, as partners must navigate complex emotions and renegotiate boundaries on an ongoing basis. Additionally, jealousy and insecurity may arise when partners develop new connections outside the existing relationships. However, honest and open communication, along with a commitment to personal growth, can help address these challenges and foster healthy, fulfilling relationships.

By embracing non-hierarchical polyamory, individuals can create relationship dynamics that prioritize autonomy, trust, and mutual respect. This approach to polyamory recognizes the fluidity of human connections and encourages personal growth and fulfillment for all involved.

Benefits of Non-Hierarchical Polyamory Challenges of Non-Hierarchical Polyamory
  • Equal relationships
  • Freedom from societal norms
  • Individual autonomy
  • Opportunities for personal growth
  • Complex emotions to navigate
  • Effective communication required
  • Potential for jealousy and insecurity
  • Boundary renegotiation

Solo Polyamory: Embracing Independence and Personal Growth

Solo polyamory is a unique approach to ethical non-monogamy that prioritizes individual autonomy and personal growth. This type of polyamory is characterized by individuals who choose to focus on their own needs and goals while still engaging in multiple romantic or sexual relationships. Unlike other forms of polyamory, solo polyamory emphasizes a commitment to oneself rather than prioritizing a primary partner or imposing hierarchical structures.

In solo polyamorous relationships, individuals have the freedom to live independently and make decisions that align with their personal values and desires. They may choose to live alone or with friends rather than with romantic partners, allowing for a greater sense of self-discovery and exploration. Solo polyamory encourages individuals to embrace their independence and foster a strong sense of self, while still experiencing the joys and benefits of multiple relationships.

“Solo polyamory has given me the freedom to focus on my personal growth and pursue my own passions while still enjoying meaningful connections with multiple partners. It’s allowed me to prioritize my own happiness and well-being without compromising on the depth of my relationships.” – Anonymous Solo Polyamorist

Embracing Autonomy and Honoring Boundaries

One of the key aspects of solo polyamory is the emphasis on autonomy and respecting individual boundaries. In solo polyamorous relationships, each partner has the freedom to define and negotiate their own boundaries without the influence of a primary partner or hierarchical structures. This allows for open and honest communication, ensuring that all parties involved feel heard, valued, and respected.

Solo polyamory challenges traditional notions of relationship expectations and provides a space for personal growth and self-discovery. By embracing independence and prioritizing individual needs, solo polyamorous individuals can cultivate a fulfilling and authentic life that aligns with their values and aspirations.

Benefits of Solo Polyamory Challenges of Solo Polyamory
  • Greater personal freedom and autonomy
  • Opportunity for self-discovery and personal growth
  • Ability to focus on individual needs and goals
  • Flexibility in managing multiple relationships
  • Dealing with societal misconceptions and stigma
  • Navigating potential jealousy and emotional challenges
  • Establishing clear communication and boundaries with multiple partners
  • Balancing time and energy between different relationships

Solo polyamory offers individuals the opportunity to engage in meaningful and fulfilling relationships while maintaining a strong sense of self. It allows for personal growth, autonomy, and the freedom to explore diverse connections and experiences. By embracing solo polyamory, individuals can create a life that celebrates their independence and commitment to personal fulfillment.

Relationship Anarchy

Relationship anarchy is a philosophy that challenges traditional relationship norms and emphasizes individual freedom and autonomy. It rejects labels, hierarchies, and predefined relationship structures, instead allowing relationships to develop organically based on the desires and needs of the individuals involved. In relationship anarchy, there are no rules or expectations imposed by society or third parties, giving each person the freedom to define their own boundaries and commitments.

Relationship anarchy encourages open and honest communication, consent, and the pursuit of personal growth and fulfillment. It recognizes that relationships can take on many forms and may not fit into societal expectations of what a relationship should be. There are no labels like “boyfriend,” “girlfriend,” or “husband” and “wife.” Instead, individuals engage with one another based on their genuine connection and shared values.

“In relationship anarchy, there is no right or wrong way to love. Each relationship is unique and evolves according to the needs and desires of the individuals involved. It allows for a level of fluidity and adaptability that can be liberating and empowering.”

Relationship anarchy promotes non-hierarchical relationships, where each relationship is given equal importance and value. It encourages individuals to explore connections based on mutual respect, trust, and compatibility, rather than societal expectations or obligations. By embracing the principles of relationship anarchy, individuals can create authentic and fulfilling relationships that prioritize personal autonomy and emotional well-being.

Kitchen Table Polyamory

In the realm of polyamorous relationships, one approach that stands out is kitchen table polyamory. It is characterized by the willingness and desire to not only form a connection with a primary partner but also to develop familiarity and relationships with the partners of that partner, known as metamours. In kitchen table polyamory, individuals aim to establish a friendly and supportive dynamic that allows them to comfortably share experiences, conversations, and even social gatherings like meals together.

What sets kitchen table polyamory apart is the emphasis on building connections beyond the primary partnership. It goes beyond mere tolerance or acceptance of other partners and extends to actively engaging with them. This approach fosters an environment of openness, inclusivity, and mutual support among all individuals involved. By developing familiarity with metamours, kitchen table polyamory creates a sense of extended family and community, where everyone feels connected and valued.

Metamours: Building Relationships Beyond the Primary Partnership

In kitchen table polyamory, metamours play a significant role in creating a harmonious and fulfilling relationship dynamic. With a focus on building connections beyond the primary relationship, individuals in kitchen table polyamory actively invest time and effort in getting to know their partner’s partners. This may involve spending time together, sharing experiences, and engaging in open and honest communication.

By actively building relationships with metamours, individuals in kitchen table polyamory create a support network that extends beyond their primary partnership. This can foster a deeper understanding, empathy, and sense of community among all parties involved. It also allows for effective communication, conflict resolution, and the establishment of shared boundaries, ensuring that everyone’s needs and desires are respected.

Benefits of Kitchen Table Polyamory Challenges of Kitchen Table Polyamory
  • Enhanced sense of community and support
  • Opportunities for shared experiences and growth
  • Increased communication and cooperation
  • Emotional complexities and potential jealousy
  • Differing relationship dynamics and needs
  • Navigating individual boundaries and expectations

“Kitchen table polyamory allows for a rich and interconnected web of relationships, creating a sense of extended family and camaraderie among all partners involved.”

Parallel Polyamory

In parallel polyamory, individuals choose not to engage or develop relationships with their partner’s partners. While they may accept and respect their partner’s other relationships, they prefer to keep their own relationships separate. This type of polyamory is characterized by a lack of interaction and emotional involvement between partners in different relationships.

The decision to practice parallel polyamory often stems from a desire to maintain emotional boundaries and protect one’s own well-being. Seeing a partner engage lovingly with another person can be challenging for some individuals, and they may find it easier to avoid direct contact or emotional entanglement with their partner’s other partners.

Communication and the establishment of clear boundaries are crucial in parallel polyamory to ensure the emotional well-being of all parties involved. While it may require ongoing dialogue and negotiation, maintaining open and honest communication about desires, needs, and emotional triggers is essential in navigating this type of polyamorous relationship.

“I feel more comfortable keeping my relationships separate in parallel polyamory. It’s not that I don’t accept my partner’s other relationships; I just prefer to focus on my own connections without directly engaging with their partners. It helps me maintain a sense of emotional autonomy and protects me from potential emotional challenges.” – Anonymous polyamorous individual

Triad Polyamory

Triad polyamory is a type of polyamorous relationship that involves three individuals who are romantically and/or sexually involved with each other. It is a form of a three-person relationship where all members are connected to one another. In a triad, each individual has relationships with the other two, creating a unique dynamic of love and intimacy.

In triad polyamory, communication is key to maintaining a healthy and balanced relationship. All parties involved must openly discuss their wants, needs, and boundaries to ensure that everyone feels heard and respected. Trust is also crucial, as each person must trust that their partners will prioritize the well-being and happiness of the entire triad.

Triads can take different forms, depending on the desires and agreements of the individuals involved. Some triads may be open, allowing for additional partners outside of the three-person relationship, while others may be closed and exclusive to the three individuals involved. Regardless of the structure, triad polyamory requires ongoing communication, emotional support, and a commitment to nurturing each relationship within the triad.

Benefits of Triad Polyamory

  • Multiple sources of love and support
  • Deeper emotional connections
  • Shared responsibilities and resources
  • Expanded social network

“Being in a triad allows for a unique and fulfilling experience where you can explore love and intimacy on a deeper level with two partners who care about you. It provides an opportunity for increased emotional support, shared responsibilities, and an expanded social network.” – Anonymous Triad Polyamory Practitioner

Challenges of Triad Polyamory Tips for Navigating Triad Polyamory
  • Jealousy and insecurity
  • Time management
  • Power dynamics
  • Open and honest communication
  • Establishing clear boundaries
  • Regular check-ins and emotional support
  • Compromise and flexibility

Triad polyamory offers a unique opportunity for individuals to experience love and connection with multiple partners. By cultivating open communication, trust, and a commitment to the well-being of all involved, triad polyamory can create a fulfilling and harmonious relationship dynamic.

Quad Polyamory

In the realm of polyamory, quad polyamory stands out as a unique and dynamic relationship structure. It involves four individuals who are romantically and/or sexually involved with each other, forming a four-person relationship. Quad polyamory can come about in different ways – it may involve two established couples choosing to come together, or a triad expanding to include another partner.

What sets quad polyamory apart is the active engagement and participation of all four partners in the relationship dynamic. Each individual’s needs, desires, and boundaries are considered and respected, fostering a sense of balance and inclusivity. Communication and consent play crucial roles in navigating the complexities that may arise within a quad polyamorous relationship.

Quad polyamory allows for a diverse range of romantic and sexual involvement. Each partner has the opportunity to form connections and explore relationships with the other three individuals involved. This creates a rich and intricate network of connections within the quad, with each relationship contributing to the overall dynamic.

Benefits of Quad Polyamory Challenges of Quad Polyamory
Increased emotional support and intimacy through multiple connections. Managing time and balancing the needs of four individuals.
Opportunity for personal growth through navigating complex relationship dynamics. Negotiating boundaries and expectations with multiple partners.
Enhanced sense of community and shared experiences among all four partners. Addressing potential jealousy and insecurities that may arise.

Quad polyamory is a dynamic and evolving way of engaging in multiple relationships. It requires open-mindedness, clear communication, and a commitment to personal growth and fulfillment for all involved. By embracing the principles of consent, respect, and individual autonomy, quad polyamorous relationships can be a fulfilling and enriching experience for those who choose to explore this unique form of romantic and sexual involvement.


In conclusion, polyamory offers a diverse range of relationship possibilities for individuals seeking ethical non-monogamy. By exploring the various types of polyamory, individuals can find the approach that aligns best with their personal values and desires.

From hierarchical and non-hierarchical polyamory to solo polyamory and relationship anarchy, each type provides a unique perspective on love, commitment, and individual autonomy.

Successful polyamorous relationships require open and honest communication, consent, and the establishment of clear boundaries that work for all parties involved. By prioritizing respect, compassion, and personal growth, individuals can navigate polyamory with confidence and fulfillment.

Regardless of the type of polyamory chosen, it is important to remember that every relationship is unique, and what works for one person may not work for another. By embracing diversity and understanding the multitude of options available, individuals can create meaningful connections and foster a sense of love and belonging in their polyamorous journeys.


What is polyamory?

Polyamory is a form of ethical non-monogamy where individuals have multiple romantic or sexual relationships with the knowledge and consent of all parties involved.

What are the different types of polyamory?

The different types of polyamory include hierarchical polyamory, non-hierarchical polyamory, solo polyamory, relationship anarchy, kitchen table polyamory, parallel polyamory, triad polyamory, and quad polyamory.

What is hierarchical polyamory?

Hierarchical polyamory involves a prioritization of partners, where one partner is considered the primary partner and others are secondary.

What is non-hierarchical polyamory?

Non-hierarchical polyamory rejects the concept of prioritizing partners and treats all relationships as equal.

What is solo polyamory?

Solo polyamory refers to individuals who prioritize their independent, single lives while still engaging in multiple romantic or sexual relationships.

What is relationship anarchy?

Relationship anarchy is a philosophy that rejects societal norms and labels when it comes to relationships, prioritizing personal autonomy and freedom.

What is kitchen table polyamory?

Kitchen table polyamory involves forming relationships not only with a primary partner but also with the partners of that partner (metamours).

What is parallel polyamory?

Parallel polyamory is when individuals have no desire to develop relationships or interact with their partner’s partners.

What is triad polyamory?

Triad polyamory involves three individuals who are romantically and/or sexually involved with each other.

What is quad polyamory?

Quad polyamory consists of four individuals who are romantically and/or sexually involved with each other.

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