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Please help improve it or discuss these issues on the talk page. This article needs additional citations for verification. This article possibly contains original research. The neutrality of this article is disputed. Relevant discussion may be found on the talk page. Polyamory has come to be an umbrella term for various forms of non-monogamous, multi-partner relationships, or non-exclusive sexual or romantic relationships.

The word polyamorous first appeared in an article by Morning Glory Zell-Ravenheart, “A Bouquet of Lovers”, published in May 1990 in Green Egg Magazine, as “poly-amorous”. No single definition of “polyamory” has universal acceptance, with the Oxford English Dictionary having widely divergent definitions for the word for the UK and US versions. There is a cultural divide between the polyamorous and swinger communities, the former emphasizing the emotional and egalitarian aspects of plural relationships and the latter emphasizing sexual non-monogamy and emotional monogamy. Separate from polyamory as a philosophical basis for relationship, are the practical ways in which people who live polyamorously arrange their lives and handle certain issues, as compared to those of a generally more socially acceptable monogamous arrangement.

Fidelity and loyalty: Many polyamorists define fidelity not as sexual exclusivity, but as faithfulness to the promises and agreements made about a relationship. As a relational practice, polyamory sustains a vast variety of open relationship or multi-partner constellations, which can differ in definition and grades of intensity, closeness and commitment. Communication and negotiation: Because there is no “standard model” for polyamorous relationships, and reliance upon common expectations may not be realistic, polyamorists often advocate explicitly negotiating with all involved to establish the terms of their relationships, and often emphasize that this should be an ongoing process of honest communication and respect. Trust, honesty, dignity, and respect: Most polyamorists emphasize respect, trust, and honesty for all partners.

Non-possessiveness: Many polyamorists view excessive restrictions on other deep relationships as less than desirable, as such restrictions can be used to replace trust with a framework of ownership and control. The ability of individuals to discuss issues with multiple partners, potentially mediating and thus stabilizing a relationship, and reducing polarization of viewpoints. Emotional support and structure from other committed adults within the familial unit. A wider range of adult experience, skills, resources, and perspective.