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Inigo Lapwood, 25, from Oxfordshire, has never been in a monogamous relationship – and he intends to keep it that way.
An advocate of polyamory, defined as “the state or practice of having more than one open romantic relationship at a time”, Inigo has no time for what he considers the ‘restrictive’ nature of monogamous pairings.
“People talk about polyamory as if it’s particularly abnormal, but it’s really just about putting less restriction on what you can and can’t do. Your romantic relationships don’t have to fit into just one category: you can have close friends who you sleep with, for instance.”
Until recently, Inigo was in a two-year-long triad relationship, also known as a throuple, with two women: Francesca and Jess.
“Romantically and sexually, our relationship identity was most strongly felt as a throuple – although we had our individual connections too,” he tells Yahoo UK.
However, polyamory doesn’t always have to involve three in a bed.
While the triad element of this relationship has now ended, Inigo continues to see both women on a more casual basis.
Tilly*, 25, from London, is bisexual and has previously been in two different long-term polyamorous pairings. She’s always treated her casual partners as “standalone and not interconnected” relationships.
In the past, she has met partners on online dating site OK Cupid and many of her casual relationships have been short-term, sexual flings.
As for contraception, polyamorists are strong advocates of safe sex, using barrier methods like condoms with more casual partners.
“Condoms are a huge thing,” says Tilly. “A good poly relationship would be open about everything: telling each other who you are going to see and making sure you do it safely. Otherwise, you could be endangering not one person but potentially lots of other people.”
The exception will be with primary, ‘fluid-bonded’ partners, where barrier methods might not be used.
Communication, about everything from contraception to emotional needs, is key to a polyamorous relationship.
“Polyamory has still got to be based on being a good kind and compassionate and respectful partner, as in any monogamous relationship. In fact, when you are not trying to force your relationship into a default pattern, this becomes easier,” says Inigo.
This extends to telling your partner if you are sexually attracted to others – a major taboo for monogamous relationships.
“It’s much better than telling each other lies,” Inigo adds, who claims this honesty means there are fewer problems in polyamorous relationships compared to their monogamous counterparts.
Yet Tilly, who is now in a monogamous relationship, isn’t so sure this openness works for her. Her first polyamorous relationship ended due to feelings of insecurity. “I was constantly adjusting, every time I knew she was with her other partner or going on dates, I found it really difficult.”
This began to seep into other areas of her life: “If I was feeling I wasn’t good enough for my partner, that would reflect in how I felt about myself generally.”
On the other hand, she has at times enjoyed the validation she received from other partners, admitting: “It’s a balancing act and no one I have made particularly successfully.”
This battle with insecurity is why Tilly, who has been with just one partner for the past year, is ready to say goodbye to her multiple partner days.
“Being monogamous right now works for me so I want to keep it that way,” she says.
However, there are others, like Inigo, who are unlikely to ever change their sexual preferences – and would encourage others to try it, too.
“Should everyone be poly? Not necessarily… ,” he says. “But do I think most people could benefit from being more communicative around sex and sexual interest? Of course.”
“If two people decide being monogamous works for them both, fine. But, when you create a framework where people in a relationship communicate about their sexual desires, it will lead to polyamory more often than you think.”
*Tilly asked for her surname not to be included.
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