Common Non-Monogamy Terms

This is maintained by the monthly non-monogamy SIG at Arizona Power Exchange.

We meet the 1st Sunday of every month at 9am.

The working Google doc:

COMET:  An occasional lover who passes through one’s life semi-regularly, but without an expectation of continuity or a romantic relationship. 

COMPERSION: A feeling of joy when a partner invests in and takes pleasure from another relationship;  it is a positive emotional reaction to a partner’s other relationship.

DON’T ASK, DON’T TELL (DADT): A relationship structure in which a person who is partnered is permitted to have additional sexual or romantic relationships on the condition that his or her partner does not know anything about those additional relationships and does not meet any of those other people. Statistically this is very problematic.

ENVYwanting what someone else has (as opposed to) jealousy – upset about potentially losing what you have. 

FLUID BONDING: Of or related to practices which involve the exchange of bodily fluids. This could be barrier free sex or other activities such as BDSM play.

FRIENDS WITH BENEFITS (FWB): A relationship in which two (or more) people establish a friendship that includes sex or sexual activity.

JEALOUSY: Fear of losing someone or something to someone else

KEY PARTY: A specific type of play party (Def. 1), usually attended by couples, in which each male deposits his keys into a container as he arrives. As the guests leave, each female draws a set of keys at random from the container, then goes home with the male to which they belong that night. Usage: A key party is typically a swinger event. 

KITCHEN TABLE POLYAMORY:  A style of polyamory that emphasizes family-style connections even among people in a network who are not dating each other. So named because the people in a network can gather around the kitchen table.

LONG-DISTANCE RELATIONSHIP (LDR): A relationship in which the people are separated by great distances. ie. They live in different cities, states, or even in different countries.

METAMOUR: (meta) The partner of one’s partner, with whom one may not share a direct sexual or loving relationship.

MONOGAMISH: Dan Savage says this is when the two people that make up a dyadic relationship decide to seek out extramarital partners. Sometimes for sex, sometimes for dates, and sometimes for love.

NEW RELATIONSHIP ENERGY (NRE): A strong, almost giddy feeling of excitement and infatuation common in the beginning of any new romantic relationship. “Honeymoon phase”. This is not a good time to make life changing decisions.

OLD RELATIONSHIP ENERGY (ORE): The feeling of comfort, security, and stability often associated with a long-standing romantic relationship. aka ESTABLISHED RELATIONSHIP ENERGY

ONE PENIS POLICY: An arrangement in which a man is allowed to have multiple female partners, each of whom is allowed to have sex with other women but forbidden to have any other male partners. Often problematic, being upfront and communicative is essential.

OPEN RELATIONSHIP: 1. Any relationship that is not monogamous.

PARALLEL POLYAMORY: A style of polyamory in which the relationships a person has are largely independent of one another, and there may be little or no contact between a person’s various partners.

PARAMOUR: A partner or lover. 

PLATONIC RELATIONSHIP: A close, emotionally intimate relationship in which there is no sex or physical intimacy.

PLAY PARTY: 1. In the swinger community, a party, often hosted at a swing club or a private residence, where swingers get together for recreational sex. 2. A party with emphasis on shared sexual activity or experience (i.e. a dungeon party at a kink club / BDSM house party)


POLYAMORY: The state or practice of maintaining multiple sexual and/or emotional relationships simultaneously, with the full knowledge and consent of all the people involved. 

POLYANDRY: The state or practice of having multiple wedded husbands at the same time. 

POLYCULE: A romantic network, or a particular subset of relationships within a romantic network, whose members are closely connected. Also used to describe a sketch or visualization of a romantic network, as these drawings often resemble the depiction of molecules used in organic chemistry.

POLYFIDELITY: A romantic or sexual relationship which involves more than two people, but which does not permit the members of that relationship to seek additional partners outside the relationship, at least without the approval and consent of all the existing members. Some polyfidelitous relationships may have a mechanism which permits adding new members to the relationship with mutual agreement and consent of the existing members; others may not permit any new members under any circumstances.  Commune life was often like this.

POLYGAMY: The state or practice of having multiple wedded spouses at the same time, regardless of the sex of those spouses. 

POLYGYNY: (Literally, poly many + gynos woman) The state or practice of having multiple wedded wives at the same time. 

POLY/MONO; Of or relating to a relationship between a person who self-identifies as polyamorous and a person who self-identifies as monogamous.

POLYSATURATED:  Polyamorous, but not currently open to new relationships or new partners because of the number of existing partners, or because of time constraints that might make new relationships difficult. 

PRIMARY/SECONDARY: A polyamorous relationship structure in which a person has multiple partners who are not equal to one another in terms of interconnection, emotional intensity, intertwinement in practical or financial matters, or power within the relationship. A person in a primary/secondary relationship may have one (or occasionally, more than one) primary partner and one or more additional secondary or tertiary partners. A primary/secondary relationship may be “prescriptive” (that is, a primary couple consciously and deliberately creates a set of rules whereby any additional partners are secondary, often because this is seen as a mechanism which will protect the existing relationship from harm caused by additional relationships) or it may be “descriptive,” and emerge from the nature and the situation of the relationship.

PRIMARY: In a primary/secondary relationship, the person (or persons) in the relationship with the highest degree of involvement or entanglement, or sometimes the person accorded the most importance. A person may be primary either as a natural consequence of the circumstance and nature of the relationship (because that person has the greatest degree of financial entanglement, for example), or as a deliberate consequence of the relationship structure and agreements (as in the case of an existing couple who set out to add additional partners only on the condition that those existing partners are seen as “less important” than the couple). 

QUAD: A polyamorous relationship involving four people, each of whom may or may not be sexually and emotionally involved with all the other members. 

RELATIONSHIP ANARCHY: A philosophy or practice in which people are seen as free to engage in any relationships they choose, spontaneity and freedom are desirable and necessary traits in healthy relationships, no relationship should be entered into or restricted from a sense of duty or obligation, any relationship choice is (or should be) allowable, and in which there is not necessarily a clear distinction between “partner” and “non-partner.”

SECONDARY: In a primary/secondary relationship, the person (or persons) in the relationship who, either by intent or by circumstance, have a relationship that is given less in terms of time, energy, and priority in a person’s life than a primary relationship, and usually involves fewer ongoing commitments such as plans or financial/legal involvements. A secondary relationship may be secondary as a result of a conscious decision on the part of the primary partners, or simply as a result of circumstance or the natural development of the relationship. 

SOLO POLY: An approach to polyamory that emphasizes agency and does not seek to engage in relationships that are tightly couple-centric. People who identify as solo poly emphasize autonomy, the freedom to choose their own relationships without seeking permission from others, and flexibility in the form their relationships take. Such people generally don’t want or need relationships that look like traditional couples, and may not, for example, seek to live with a partner (or partners) or combine finances with a partner (or partners).

SWINGING: The practice of having multiple sexual partners outside of an existing romantic relationship, most often with the understanding that the focus of those relationships is primarily sexual rather than romantic or emotionally intimate. Not catching the feels is hard, yo.

TERTIARY: A person (or persons) in a relationship that is generally quite casual, expects little in the way of emotional or practical support, or is very limited with respect to time, energy, or priority in the lives of the people involved. 

TRIAD: A relationship composed of three people.

THROUPLE: see triad. Etymology: A neologism coined by combining “couple” and “triple.”

UNICORN: Usage: Almost always used of a hypothetical woman who is willing to date both members of an existing couple, agree not to have any relationships other than the ones with the couple. So named because people willing to agree to such arrangements are rare. Men are referred to as Dragons, apparently. 🤦

VEE:  A relationship involving three people, in which one person is romantically or sexually involved with two partners who are not romantically or sexually involved with each other. 

VETO: A relationship agreement, most common in prescriptive primary/secondary or poly/mono relationships, which gives one, or either person, the power to end another person’s additional relationships, or in some cases to disallow some specific activity, such as some specific sexual or «BDSM»-related activity. A veto may be absolute, in which one partner may reject another partner’s additional relationships unconditionally, or may be conditional and used more as a way to indicate a serious problem in a relationship. Commentary: Not all polyamorous recognize or permit veto power. Veto is most common in primary/secondary relationship configurations, particularly in relationship configurations where an established couple is seeking additional partners. Veto is typically limited only to the primary partners, and a relationship which grants a veto power to a secondary partner is rare in the extreme.


Podcast Recommendations
Life on the Swingset
Polyamory Weekly

Reading Recommendations (Personal Work):
How to Do the Work by Nicole LePera
The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz
The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown
The Jealousy Workbook by Kathy Labriola

Reading Recommendations (Non-Monogamy Specific):
More Than Two by Eve Rickert and Franklin Veaux
Opening Up by Tristan Taormino
Polysecure by Jessica Fern
The Ethical Slut by Dossie Easton and Janet Hardy
The Polyamory Toolkit by Dan Williams & Dawn Williams
The Smart Girl’s Guide to Polyamory by Dedeker Winston


Chambliss, K. (2017, August 31). What is the Difference Between Jealousy, Envy and Compersion & What Triggers Jealousy. Retrieved March 9, 2023, from

Loving More Nonprofit. (n.d.). Polyamory Terms. Loving More. Retrieved March 9, 2023, from

Veaux, F. (2020, November 17). Glossary: Learning the Lingo. Retrieved March 9, 2023, from

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut elit tellus, luctus nec ullamcorper mattis, pulvinar dapibus leo.