What is solo polyamory? My take


December 5, 2014 by aggiesez

Have you seen this reality TV show? No, that's not solo polyamory. (It's also not reality.)

Have you seen this reality TV show? No, that’s not solo polyamory. (It’s also not reality.)

After more than two years of writing a blog about solo polyamory, it’s high time I got around to clarifying my definition of this core concept.

CAVEAT: As with any term I use here, I’m explaining how *I* use this term. Others may disagree — and that’s totally fine. I’m not trying to speak for anyone but myself.

Solo polyamory: Flipping these words around, polyamory is, broadly speaking, one approach to engaging in (or being open to having) ethically nonexclusive relationships involving sex, romance, or deep emotional intimacy. What distinguishes solo poly people is that we generally do not have intimate relationships which involve (or are heading toward) primary-style merging of life infrastructure or identity along the lines of the traditional social relationship escalator. For instance, we generally don’t share a home or finances with any intimate partners. Similarly, solo poly people generally don’t identify very strongly as part of a couple (or triad etc.); we prefer to operate and present ourselves as individuals.

People can be solo poly by choice or circumstance. That is, some people prefer solo polyamory and are unwilling to strongly merge their identity or life infrastructure with their partners. Others simply happen to be effectively solo: they may desire (or be open to) primary-style relationships in the future, but they just don’t happen to have one at the moment.

Solo polyamory can be an expression of personal values. People who prefer solo polyamory generally embrace autonomy as a paramount value: their own, and that of others. (This is very much the case for me, but not for all solo poly people.)

Solo poly people may or may not also be “single,” in the conventional sense of that term (“completely unpartnered”). We may have one or more intimate partners who play a significant, ongoing role in our lives — or we may, at the moment, have no such relationships. At the time I wrote this post (December 2014) I was involved in one significant ongoing intimate relationship, while remaining open to others. Most of a year later, that relationship has ended, and I’m dating others, but nothing yet feels like a particularly deep relationship. And that’s OK.

I do consider myself poly; I wouldn’t participate in an exclusive or dishonest relationship. At times I may incidentally be single — but I am always solo, regardless of my partnership status. Also, I never really view myself as part of “a couple;” I’m an individual who has important and open intimate relationships with other individuals, when it feels right.

Nuances of solo polyamory

Beyond that definition, there are many options and nuances to solo polyamory. For instance, solo poly people may:

Engage in almost any type of ethically nonmonogamous relationship — very casual or deeply committed, short term or long term, flexible or rigidly defined, kinky or vanilla, sexually intimate or not, etc. Like anyone, solo poly people have individual preferences and get to define and explore their own comfort zone.

Live alone, or not. While many solo poly live alone (or prefer to), others may live with friends, roommates, family of origin or choice, their children, etc. They may have partners who stay with them part-time or for long stretches. They may be nomadic, or part of an intentional community. But typically, they do not live with any intimate partner. (And yes, admittedly “intimate” is a very fuzzy term when it comes to cohabitation. Roll with it.)

Some solo poly people may spend considerable time at home with partners, even sometimes living together part-time. Or they may come and go freely from each others’ homes. But generally, solo poly people do not merge dwellings or other resources with intimate partners in a way that would be difficult to disentangle should that relationship end or significantly shift.

Avoid hierarchy, or not. Since solo poly people don’t have primary-style partners, their relationships tend to be non-primary in nature (which doesn’t necessarily mean secondary.) Many solo people, myself included, prefer to avoid relationships with people who practice hierarchy — whether explicitly stated, or presumed. That’s because nonprimary partners are inherently disadvantaged by hierarchy — which is a big part of the point of hierarchy, after all. Plus, thanks to the common social presumptions of couple privilege and the relationship escalator, nonprimary partners often get treated unethically or poorly in hierarchical relationship networks.

That said, some solo poly people are comfortable in (or at least, are willing to accept) the role of being a secondary partner in an explicit hierarchy — accepting imposed rules and limits, or even a potential third-party veto. These people sometimes call themselves “single secondaries.” Furthermore, some solo poly people disagree that couple privilege exists at all, or that it’s a problem.

Date outside the poly community, or not. While solo poly people aren’t necessarily single, we may look that way to people outside the poly/open community. Therefore, conventionally single people sometimes are comfortable getting intimately involved with solo poly people, at least to some extent, since we kind of look like them (if you don’t look too closely). In contrast, dating someone in a primary-style poly/open relationship might seem more alien, and thus more challenging, to a conventional singleton.

Some solo poly people are comfortable dating conventional singles, or people who don’t specifically consider themselves poly or open. I myself am open to dating people who don’t consider themselves poly, as long as they respect, appreciate and embrace that I am polyamorous.

Some solo poly people will even date singles with a stated preference for eventual monogamy — although for me, that’s a major mismatch in terms of significant emotional investment, so I don’t tend to pursue more than casual short-term dating with people seeking eventual monogamy.

Some solo poly people prefer to date only within the polyamorous, open, relationship anarchist, swinger, or otherwise ethically nonmonogamous people. This can reduce potential misunderstandings, mismatched values, or the risk of being carelessly dumped when a partner suddenly “goes mono” on you. However, this approach does lead some solo poly people to feel like they’re “fishing in a teaspoon” — especially if they are unwilling to play the secondary role in a hierarchy.


What solo poly is not

Any identity label is mostly subjective. There’s lots of room for interpretation, variation, gray areas and disagreement. Below is how I usually make this distinction for solo polyamory.

CAVEAT: Again, I am not trying to tell anyone what they are, or what they should call themselves. I’m just trying to clarify where/how I think the term solo poly applies. I respect everyone’s right to self-identify as they choose. (With one minor exception, which I mention at the end.)

Basically, from my perspective, someone who is in a romantically/sexually exclusive two-person relationship, or who is seeking monogamy (or would ultimately prefer a wholly or mostly exclusive relationship) probably would not fit the “poly” part of the solo poly label — even though they may be otherwise solo (if they prefer a lot of autonomy even when in a relationship).

Nor, probably, would someone who is “dating around” or otherwise involved with multiple partners, but who doesn’t disclose all relationships to all partners. This can get murky, since some poly/open people (including solo poly folks) are fine with participating in don’t-ask-don’t-tell relationships — which by agreement do not involve full disclosure.

It gets trickier to distinguish whether a poly/open person is also “solo.” For instance, I’ve encountered some poly people in outwardly primary-seeming relationships (including legal marriage) who nevertheless choose to embrace the solo poly label in order to signify that they prize autonomy, eschew hierarchy, operate mostly as a free agent, and do not place limits or conditions on each other’s relationships. This is not wrong or bad — but it does usually generate some pushback.

The catch here is that hierarchy, enmeshment and couple privilege are endemic to society, and quite insidious. Appearances and circumstances matter, even though they can be deceiving. Consequently, people who are visibly partnered up in a more-or-less conventional fashion face rather different relationship and social dynamics from visibly solo people. It’s not a level playing field. This reality would make it very difficult (although theoretically not impossible) for someone who is, say, is married, living with their spouse, poly and nonhierarchical to consistently behave as (and be treated as) a solo person.

There is one blatantly incorrect way I’ve seen some people misunderstand and misuse the term solo poly. Some people think solo poly means “currently available for nonexclusive relationships that don’t necessarily involve my existing primary-style partner(s).” As in: “I’m solo poly; my wife is okay that I see other people, and we date separately.”

Yeah… no. Sorry. That’s nonmonogamous, possibly even poly. But if you’re in a primary-style relationship, you’re probably not solo — even if you and your primary partner don’t always date “as a couple.”

What does solo polyamory mean to you? Did I miss anything, or do you agree/disagree? Please comment below.

Want to talk with people about solo polyamory? Join the solo poly Facebook group. (Anyone is welcome to join.)

68 thoughts on “What is solo polyamory? My take

  1. Vince says:

    Well said.

  2. “And of course, some people may be practicing solo polyamory — they just haven’t heard the term yet.”

    This has been me all my life, until just recently. 🙂

  3. Hello beautiful lady,

    I just nominated you for the Bad Girl Bloggers Award… for your courage, your insights, your intregrity, and your overall awesomeness!


  4. floridainsurancenewsservice says:

    Thanks for your post. I can relate to a lot of what you said. I am a strong, independent, financially self-sufficient woman.

    I heard about you on Cunning Minx’s weekly podcast which I have found to be a resource of reason, great information and honest communication as I venture into the world of polyamory.

    I am new to poly, having chosen this route to pursue a relationship with man who I have been friends with for several year and we realized our feelings for each other were evolving into something more than just friendship. That coincided with his realization that he was poly and wanted an open marriage.

    There is a lot about poly that makes sense and could be a good direction for me at this stage in my life.

    There is so much about polyamory and open relationships that’s written from the couple’s perspective … and so often the outside relationships are sacrificed to placate of the partnerships… that not being part of a couple is disheartening at first. i have wondered many times as I have started down this path if I can be treated with dignity, respect and that my relationship with a potential part is truly valued on the same level as their other relationships.

    Trying to take it one day at a time. My relationship is moving forward… though slower than I would like.

    But as Cunning Minx advises, I keep expressing what my needs and desires are to make the relationship work for me.

    I am looking forward to reading your posts.

  5. rainbranch says:

    I am so grateful that you’ve written a guide like this. I’ve never heard of couple privilege and that really helps–at least, to have a word for that phenomenon.

    I’ll continue to use your blog as a resource. Thank you for existing.

  6. […] What Is Solo Polyamory by aggiesez […]

    • danny fitz says:


      thank you so much yours was the first post i came to or picked. and it’s perfect. my situation: i have been in a couple of long-term relationships – at 4 years, that a record. i should mention i’m 61 and identify as a heterosexual, but open-minded. all my partners in life have been women. i am a man, ob. i never gave up my place in these long term relationships, and even if i had the most wonderful time with my closest partner, i would just breathe a sigh of relief to open the door to my place, and know i had my autonomy again. this was 30 years ago and though we were kind of a game couple, we had never heard of poly. after we split up and i had a long-term solo-poly like relationship. but hse wanted more – i couldn’t put words to what i felt – i really liked her, liked sleeping and traveling occasionally with her. but never felt i wanted to be with her, whereas i puzzled about it with the first woman i spoke. then for about 20 i had some medical issues, that limited my ability to have relationships. anyway after being solo in my family for so long, and people and me thinking i was a committment-phobe, i realize i have been solo poly all along. last night, at a talk in the local sex shop, “good vibrations,” i heard the term, “solo poly” for the first time. and bam! it hit me! that’s me! that’s me. i’m not pathalogical,weird, i’m beautifully me and have always loved more than one person at different levels. hey i fit into some societal norms, but i refuse to now. christ i’m old enough to be starting my bucket list, and i was to sample life more fully. i missed out on a lot bc of the medical thing but now i’m cool and ready. of course i’ll read more stuff. but i don’t care really bc your description describes who i kinda always have been, unknowingly. and i did beat myself up for it at times. love you aggiesez, nailed it. ::ook a one out talk on “poly.”



  7. anneroger2013Dsvlns says:

    ” some poly people have deep, significant, ongoing relationships which they consider to be emotionally primary, even though they are not life-entwined in a conventionally primary fashion.”

    This is very insightful. I have been in a solo poly relationship with a woman for almost 2 years now, and while we remain independent, solo agents with no plans to build our life around being a couple, we are very significant to each other and share a lot of history. I’ve recently started a new relationship with someone else and it made me realize that maintaining equity without neglecting my longer term relationship was challenging, since I cannot comfortably fall back on couple privilege. A lot of talking helped us reach the conclusion that while we weren’t primary our emotional connection, at least at the present time, is close to primary, and it needs to be taken into account… it’s a relief and a great source of comfort to read about this concept here, thanks for your post.

  8. […] Polyamory:  A solo-polyamorist is someone who may have multiple emotional relationships, but does not have a domestic partnership […]

  9. Taramafor says:

    First of all I can’t tell you how happy I am to have found this. I thought I was alone. I used to feel like a freak and a monster for being how I am but that I have learned was not the case. Even before finding this. For me it’s a case of caring as much as I can for those I know without ever caring less or more. I will never care more for someone but I won’t ever care less. Not just with partners either. Friends, partners, family, kids. All the same to me. The type of caring can vary of course but the amount does not. I also get happier when others are there and sad when I’m the only one. Not a jealous bone in my body I think. If anything, I get un-jealous it seems. Provided it doesn’t lead to long term neglect of course. Funny that.

    Second, I am the type of solo-poly that does not wish to live alone. However, I do feel I need the space to be allowed to do my own thing. Yet I would not mind at all living with a intimate partner provided that space is respected. I can only speak for myself however and it is possible that many others wish to live with someone, even if it means switching from partners (We may not have just heard of them). You may have seen many living alone. I have seen none at all. Another may have seen many with partners. Some single people might be solo-poly without knowing. It all comes down to perception. I also feel that solo-poly is nowhere near known enough for anyone to know what is more common or not in this or indeed any area. I’ve been solo poly for a long, long time now and have only recently found this and nothing I knew before even came close.

    But apart from that I agree with pretty much everything else that has been covered and it’s made me the happiest man on earth. I am finally able to express myself clearly to others how I am right off the bat. And you know what? People ARE accepting of this! I always let those I take an interest in know how I operate as soon as possible. And THIS is accepted. And not just that but also WHY I am (very much circumstance for me). And now I can communicate that even more clearly.

    Hopefully this will become a label that will be more widely known in poly circles. I have never heard of this before and I must say it is a shame that is the case. It needs to be brought up more often so that others don’t put themselves in a negative light for being so different. I can make us of this for myself but I now want to make people more aware in general.

    I also want to throw in something that may not have been considered. Unsure if this ties in or not. It is extremely important for me that I am never the only one there for fear of being overlay depended on. Past experience as show that this is harmful both for others and myself. I mean this in the purely 24/7 sense and that I should be there every time at all times. I tried picking and choosing in the past and attempted this and it… didn’t end well. Others fearing being neglected when it wasn’t the case I suppose. Picking me in a pick and choose position. So with that in mind I would like to add “distance” as something to consider. That is, a little distance being possibly considered healthy in solo-polyamory terms. It is of course probably considered as such in poly terms in general but I am asking if you have found that it is needed more so then I have. Also for me it works both ways and I do not mind at all having some time provided the most of that time is made. I can be happy seeing someone once a week with someone that focuses on the best of things as well as the worst when needed. I would be sad if someone wanted me around all the time and fixated on the worst of things. Maybe I just had some bad luck and it applies outside of solo-poly. But nevertheless, this is why I am solo-poly and I am this way in the interest of others as well as for myself.

    I am solo-poly right? Screw it, I know I am. Just wondering if everything I said goes deeper then that. But then… it always does doesn’t it? For every label. Never liked labels myself but they do help with explaining things.

  10. Steve says:

    Hello aggiesez,
    I’ve been Poly for over a decade and Solo since I heard the term.
    You seem to miss my SoloPoly mark a bit, so I thought I’d offer my perspective.
    A deeper truth may lie somewhere in their overlap.

    As a Solo Polyamorist:
    I’m highly confident, grounded in myself, and accept that ultimately we’re our own primaries.
    I’m more committed to growth and vitality, than stability.
    And they’re connected, as my internal stability obviates much interest in external stability.
    Agreed: autonomy, as the root freedom, and therefore also self-determination, is a paramount value.
    I’d be loath to make any commitment/promise that’d limit any future freedom.
    My integrity demands I take my commitments seriously, and make them wisely.
    Where I feel I diverge most is that I love deep connection and intimacy.
    In fact, I’d prefer every relationship I start last my lifetime.
    And although I invest a lot in my partners, I try not to become invested in my relationships.
    The thought of anything being done ‘in the moment’ of a relationship, “for future consideration or gain” makes my skin crawl a bit.

    I think a defining criterion for me is that as a Solo, I’d never ‘ask for permission’.
    I’ve been madly in love, and willing to back off, take time, nurture, reassure etc., but I’ll never ask for anyone’s ‘permission’ for anything again. Please don’t conflate that with consent.

    Lastly I’ll say that I believe following poly principles (and self-growth) to its logical conclusion can only lead to Solo Polyamory. And I’ll say I feel no negative judgment in that, just an intellectual belief.


    • aggiesez says:

      Steve wrote: “Where I feel I diverge most [from the description of solo polyamory described in this post] most is that I love deep connection and intimacy. In fact, I’d prefer every relationship I start last my lifetime. And although I invest a lot in my partners, I try not to become invested in my relationships. The thought of anything being done ‘in the moment’ of a relationship, “for future consideration or gain” makes my skin crawl a bit.”

      …That’s definitely one of may possible ways to practice solo polyamory. I don’t think my description precludes your preference — but if you think so, please clarify, thanks.

      • Steve says:

        I believe you’re correct .And some wouldn’t care that one a carnation and ones a lily… but I do 😉
        Thanks for posting my thoughts.

    • James says:

      Thank you Steve! That definition resonates so deeply inside me. It gives me words and courage to ask for what I want. No, proclaim it! With confidence and pride. Knowing that any other person is completely willing to say no or change their minds.
      I don’t aim for relationships to get easier, it will still always be a work in progress. But your words allow me to go further into myself and communicate to my partner what is “Right” for me.
      I want to love, touch, be intimate but I will not abide by claw marks of another “needing me”.

      • Steve says:

        Dear Mo:

        In case you haven’t found answers yet… I’m not sure what’s ringing true for you to specifically comment on but my thoughts are:

        1) Nobody wants to be ruled by fear. In fact I’d say the two basic goals in life are to find and do what we love, and to overcome our fears.
        2) Building our life around another means we have no life of our own. Which still wouldn’t be best even if everybody really honored it when they said ’till death do us part’.

      • Steve says:

        *Please ignore my prior misplaced post.*

        I appreciate your kind reply James. I feel privileged when my experience helps anyone.

    • Melanula says:

      Thank you for this answer. You mentioned you would prefer every relationship you start to last a lifetime. Could your personal view on solo polyamory agree with someone who has trouble “living in the moment” or has the need to make plans . Is the ” no expectations” necessarily a part of an autonomous poly relationship ?

      • service@computersteve.ca says:

        Hi Melanula,

        My pleasure.

        The past and future are often escapes from the power of being fully present.
        Nobody however, is always in the moment or always courageous.
        Everybody who’s *practicing* solo poly makes ‘plans’, and has expectations.

        I feel the best we can ask of ourselves (or partners) or is to be aware of the times we do escape,
        and accept that we will but also of who we want to become 🙂

  11. […] lately, and I think I’m moving away from living what basically resembles a solo poly […]

  12. […] either of us needed – he wanted that livetogether full entanglement whereas I’m very solo poly. However the breakup was super painful, and was further complicated by PTSD because we’d got […]

  13. […] currently preferred relationship style is solo poly. I have a romantic/sexual partner, but we lead fairly independent lives. We do not cohabitate. We […]

  14. Margaret says:

    I’m so happy to have found this site, the book, and a community of articles and people that I can relate to!! Beyond happy. Everything makes so much sense to me and it’s as if a giant weight has been lifted off of my shoulder regarding the angst and frustration I’ve carried around my whole life regarding relationships, marriage, etc. OMG I’ve lived and tried to survive in such a little, dark box.

    I was married for 25 years and have been single for 5. I currently have one intimate relationship (the only other man I’ve been with other than my former husband), yet am very independent and committed to my diverse life and know that I do not want it to be any more than it is. I own my home, have a great career, and do not rely upon anyone for anything pretty much. I am my own primary, that’s for sure. I can relate to everything Steve (upthread) has listed about himself. Yet I do have a deep emotional connection with this man, and I appreciate the safe, trusting sexual experience. And vice versa.

    I’d like to venture out into another intimate relationship that is presenting itself to me. This is new and scary, yet also liberating and feels so right. Because I am a mother of minor children, and because of the line of work I’m in professionally, I do not feel comfortable letting either partners know about each other. Nor my friends or family at this time. Yet there is something nagging at me that I should.

    I’m not sure how I should feel about this, and was wondering if anyone else can offer insight or validation.

    Thanks in advance!!

    • Steve says:

      Hi Margaret,
      I’m happy for you.
      I might be able to offer insight and semi-validation.

      Firstly, your partners should know if you want good, long term relationships with them.
      This is true from a few perspectives.
      1) It’s an important issues that our partners should expecting disclosure of, even if they’d be ok with it. If they find out, they may feel we’re untrustworthy.
      2) By enjoying our ‘privacy’ we gaining at our partner’s expense. If they find out, they may feel we’re selfish.
      3) If we act dishonestly or selfishly with your partners, it pollutes our morality and interferes with our ability to truly connect with, robbing both.

      Secondly, I can validate not having to come out to friends and family because the have no romantic expectations of us. Having said that, sooner of later we want out of that little dark box too don’t we?

      BTW Here’s a great TED Talk about Coming Out of the Closet

      For what it’s worth, I feel question the other side of the equation. Why don’t you feel comfortable letting these two special people know who you are?

      Best wishes.

      • Margaret says:

        Thank you, Steve, for taking the time to answer my questions. I greatly appreciate it. I’m new to the idea of solypoly and so have some nervousness about it and such. I’ll watch the TED talk later, yet I’m just not ready to share this part of my life with friends and family. I know in time that I will, yet if you knew my line of work you would understand the possible ramifications.

        The 3 points you have listed are very much true .. and especially #3 hits hard for me because I think it truly is the hesitation in NOT disclosing that is bothering me so much. You ask why I don’t feel comfortable letting the two people know. I’ve thought a lot about that before I found this site (and knew about solypoly) and today after reading your response. And I think it comes down to self-worth, really. That the idea wouldn’t be accepted or that they would disagree and then I’d lose out on the experience. And so that’s going to take some defining of who I really am, sharing that with the both of them, and honoring their responses to whether they want to be a part of my life. For me, it’s a fear of loss. Losing someone who is close to me is a common theme in my life (due to causes outside of my control).

        Thank you again for answering. Lots to think about.

      • Steve says:

        Your situation around acceptance is common, but your honesty isn’t. That alone should boost your self-worth 😉 Let’s turn it around though. If you’re ‘accepted’ without sharing who you really are, who or what has really been accepted? And if you keep catering to that fear, when will you ever really be accepted. Interesting how lower self-worth is always chronic, and never comes and goes randomly like the flu 😉

  15. Katie_Speak says:

    GREAT definition — very helpful!

  16. Mo says:

    Dear Solo People:

    You know that Fleetwood Mac song, “Landslide”? And this verse?

    Well I’ve been afraid of changing
    Cause I’ve built my life around you
    But time makes you bolder
    Children get older
    And I’m getting older too

    Would all you solos say and agree that a solo polyamorist would never want that verse to ring true to them?

    • Steve says:

      Dear Mo:

      In case you haven’t found answers yet… I’m not sure what’s ringing true for you to specifically comment on but my thoughts are:

      1) Nobody wants to be ruled by fear. In fact I’d say the two basic goals in life are to find and do what we love, and to overcome our fears.
      2) Building our life around another means we have no life of our own. Which still wouldn’t be best even if everybody really honored it when they said ’till death do us part’.

  17. […] there are many ways to practice polyamory that don’t involve having a “primary,” such as solo polyamory and other radical […]

  18. […] the talk about consensual non-monogamy, I had never heard the term “solo polyamory.”  This article explains it a lot better and in more depth, but basically it refers to people who engage in […]

  19. […] not just bitter because I’m single. I mean, I’m solo poly, so single is kind of my end-game. Before I knew solo-poly was a thing, though, I did do (read: […]

  20. […] with the father of my children–I do follow a parental hierarchy, so I do not identify as a solo polyamorist yet like solo polyamorists I prize autonomy and operate mostly as a free agent. Right now, am […]

  21. […] Oh, I do have a very strong desire and need for deep, intimate relationships. But overriding this desire is my desire to be free. I value my personal freedom, my autonomy, over anything else. I enjoy the company of others, in particular the company of significant others, but at the end of the day, I need my alone time. I love sleeping in the bed with my partner, but I also love having the bed to myself. I do think it’s possible to have the best of both worlds here. It’s called solo polyamory. […]

  22. The issue I always face is in communicating to people that solo poly does not necessarily mean ‘careless’ or ‘shallow.’ I have some relationships with people that are only skin deep, some of which I am very fond and there is a great deal of trust and some within which there is a spark of understanding that travels back and forth. I value all of these relationships and people for their differences. Just because I value autonomy doesn’t make me harsh, or callous, or uncaring. I take people and my love of them very seriously and it’s no less hard or hurtful when there comes a time we have to stop seeing each other than it would be for any other person. Hugs to all, I really really love this definition and I keep coming back to it. Might be referring to your blog a little more soon. Thanks for writing.

  23. dgspitz says:

    I just went from ‘oblivious to this term’ to ‘yep, that’s me!’ Thanks for such an in depth explication of a nuanced relationship style!

  24. […] Phänomen der Nicht-Beziehung erinnert mich stark an Unterströmungen dieser Subkultur wie „Solo-Polyamorie“ und Beziehungsanarchie, wo Verträge, Labels und damit verbundene Erwartungen und Ansprüche […]

  25. […] forever. You won’t be railroaded by the developers. You’ll create your own experience. (Solo polyamorists find terrific joy in this free agent […]

  26. […] current situation is something like what’s known as “solo poly“: maintaining my autonomy, dating several people but not viewing any of them as a […]

  27. Dmitry Toda says:

    It feels a little weird to comment on a post over 3 years old, but hopefully someone will still read this, just as I read all the old comments right now.

    I am 30 and I have probably been solo poly all my life, but didn’t realize it until reading this post. I was married for 3 years and we discussed the possibility of an open marriage with my ex-wife, we tried different things but it never really worked out. Then I had a similar story with a long-distance girlfriend, this time we went farther to actually having other regular partners (and not just hookups) each in their own city, but eventually she said she preferred to be exclusive with the other boyfriend he has down there.
    And about the same time I accidentally found this post and it was like a revelation. How the hell did this Aggie back in 2014 know things about me that I didn’t know myself?!

    Now I have two feelings:
    1. Why, why on earth I didn’t know earlier that solo poly is an option? (although I am still very lucky to discover at at 30 and not at, say, 60)
    2. It feels so nice not to be alone, to know there are other people like me.

    I knew for a while that I wanted to have some kind of open relationship, but I thought the only way was to find the right partner and then agree with them to have it open. Now I know – screw them all, it’s not the relationship that has to be open, it’s myself who is poly, and from now on I will only deal with potential partners who accept it.

    Thank you so much Aggie! You changed my life.

  28. […] last few years, it’s been more about recognising I struggle to receive compliments, and am solo poly in part because of past […]

  29. […] a solo poly bisexual top. This could mean a myriad of things to different people. Emotionally, on a day to day […]

  30. […] is a wonderful blog and Facebook page with resources and conversations about polyamory. Solopoly––here are some more resources on being solo poly. More Than Two––this website has a longer […]

  31. […] don’t want to integrate their lives with their partners’ lives beyond a certain degree. This is a beautiful introduction to solo polyamory. 7. Relationship Anarchy This form of non-monogamy […]

  32. Aaron Frost says:

    What!?!? Sanity on the internet??? I feel like I’m in the twilight zone or something! This is amazing! ❤ Thank you so much for developing these ideas! The delusional assumptions of possessive insecurity are such a brain-drain, and this concept of being a sovereign free agent needs to get out so that people can defend themselves from prison partnerships and recognize compersion when they find it. I've been repeatedly dumped by girls who have "gone mono" in favor of possessive, insecure men who treat the women I love like their personal property. It's driving me insane and it's a great relief to discover that I'm not alone in my lack of common nonsense.

  33. […] my first year spent online dating I tested the idea of ethical non-monogamy. In applying ‘polo solo’ and the broad principles of RA as my guiding value, I preferred to keep my relationships […]

  34. […] ist denn jetzt Solo-Polyamorie? Hier der Beitrag, den ich als sehr informativ […]

  35. […] çok eşliliğin de birden fazla çeşidi vardır. Bunun önemli bir örneği solo çok eşliliktir. Solopoly isimli eserinde Amy Gahran şu ifadeyi […]

  36. […] children can be quite large. Some polyamorous folks live alone, especially those who identify as solo poly and can afford to live by […]

  37. […] consider myself solo-poly, and somewhat a relationship anarchist, but I often question it. I’m not totally on board […]

  38. patricil says:

    hi! I cant see the difference between being solo poliamory and relationshiop anarchist… im struggling deep on these… can you throw some light on that??


    • aggiesez says:

      Short version: Solo polyamory describes a certain kind of intimate relationship structure. Typically, that’s
      – Being open to having more than one nonexclusive intimate relationship at a time, with all-around informed consent
      – Not living with, marrying, combining finances with any intimate partners
      – Not adopting a “coupled” identity that rivals the individuality of partners

      Relationship anarchy is a philosophy about relationships in general, not just sexually or romantically intimate ones. It boils down to not prioritizing any particular kind of relationship by default, and that all aspects of all relationships are negotiated by the people involved (no assumptions). This can yield almost any kind of relationship — even, potentially, a monogamous, cohabiting legal marriage.

  39. atldreambeat says:

    As a newbie to the model, I feel that you can build those connections, intimately, sexually, and spiritually, without the pull of being obligated to a partner or a set, you can grow and evolve while doing you.

  40. […] my life as a solo poly person (for a good explanation of the term, see this excellent article: What is Solo Poly: My Take (not mine.)) This style of living has called to me at various times post-W, though out of fear of […]

  41. Bonnie Joy Askey says:

    So, I’m rather literal-minded, so please excuse me if this is something obvious to you, I often miss ‘obvious’ things. I’m going to quote two things you said, and then I’d appreciate it if you could explain the difference.

    1. I’ve encountered some poly people in outwardly primary-seeming relationships (including legal marriage) who nevertheless choose to embrace the solo poly label in order to signify that they prize autonomy, eschew hierarchy, operate mostly as a free agent, and do not place limits or conditions on each other’s relationships.
    2. There is one blatantly incorrect way I’ve seen some people misunderstand and misuse the term solo poly. Some people think solo poly means “currently available for nonexclusive relationships that don’t necessarily involve my existing primary-style partner(s).” As in: “I’m solo poly; my wife is okay that I see other people, and we date separately.”

    To me, these are the exact same thing. How are they different to you?

    • aggiesez says:

      Re 1, and speaking only for myself (a few years after I wrote this article): I’ve seen that it is possible for intimate partners to be married or cohabiting and also walk their talk about being solo poly as well. Admittedly, it’s rare and challenging, because these people must do a lot of ongoing work to undo their own ingrained couple privilege and to counteract the couple privilege that other people and institutions tend to assign them automatically. But it is possible.

      I’m not going to tell them they are not solo poly; that’s their business. But I do believe that people in that situation should expect that it might be harder for other people to believe that they are solo poly. Not fair, but that’s life.

      Re 2: No, I don’t see that the same as 1 at all. Because in 2, such people often still desire, embrace and leverage their social and institutional couple privilege.


    I love your articles sooooooooooo much!
    Please create a community on Facebook (group) or Telegram for Poly-minded people to join in on more of these discussions.

  43. […] this time, someone suggested to me a blog about solo polyamory. I looked around and learned about the relationship escalator and got on the Facebook group about […]

  44. […] Phänomen der Nicht-Beziehung erinnert mich stark an Unterströmungen dieser Subkultur wie „Solo-Polyamorie“ und Beziehungsanarchie, wo Verträge, Labels und damit verbundene Erwartungen und Ansprüche […]

  45. Lyn says:

    I’m confused about one thing. I’m a solo polyamorous person who is non-hierarchy, against nesting but I want my next partner to be someone I can fall in love with who can love me back. So if I find that person, what would the term be? I’ve been using the word primary but I think I’ve been using it the wrong way because if I’m emotionally invested in both/all my partners then they are not primary because there’s no hierarchy? Or can you have two or three primary partners? If not, what would be the word for a partner when you’re both in love with each other but with no intention to nest? Instead of seeking a primary, I’m seeking a …what?

    • aggiesez says:

      They’re… Your partner.

      Ask for the relationship attributes you want. That’s more likely to be understood than a label.

      • Lyn says:

        I was hoping there was a specific word that excluded married partners, cohabitating partners, and people only looking for casual partners. Although come to think of it, romantic partner might work. Of course, nested partners can also be romantic partners but I think most people would not assume people romantic with each other are necessarily living together.

      • Steve says:

        You might have missed it but I agree with aggiesez. Partner. FWIW I love that word. Like trust, to me it sounds beautiful, powerful, and doesn’t say anything it doesn’t need to.

  46. […] in my polyamorous life, I am solo-poly. Amy Gahran author of Stepping Off the Relationship Escalator: Uncommon Love and Life says,  “What distinguishes solo poly people is that we generally do not have intimate […]

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