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Sunday, May 30, 2010

High Fidelity

"How can you sleep with more than one person? Don't you love them?"

How many times have I heard those words. Which are often followed by the comment, "You are basically cheating on them but they know about it. You just sleep around and don't care?"

Among the responses I use a favorite is, "The relationships I have are fidelitous. Just like monogamous relationships are supposed to be."

The conversation usually degenerates from there, often with the other person expressing disbelief. Those of you who have been poly for a while and are reading this have probably been in the situation, or one similar, I'm sure.

But what surprises me most is the number of people who have a hard time putting Polyamory and Fidelity in the same sentence. Somehow, somewhere, Fidelity got mated with the concept of sexual monogamy.

So are Polyamory and Fidelity concepts that are incompatible?

We know what Polyamory means right? Basically, multiple loves.
And Fidelity? Webster defines it as ". . . The quality or state of being faithful".

Hmm, Faithful eh?

From Webster again, Faithful means ". . . Steadfast in affection or allegiance".

From those definitions it sure appears that Polyamory and Fidelity are compatible concepts, even complimentary some might say.

Some terms used today to express the concept of relationships that incorporate both Polyamory and Fidelity are; Poli-Fi, Poli-Fidelity, Poli-Fidelitous, Polyfidelity, Polycommitted, and probably others I've never heard or can't think of right now.

Interestingly enough while writing this article and doing a bit of reading I found that although Polyfidelity today typically means a group that is sexually exclusive, the term has traditionally had less to do with sexual exclusivity and instead indicated a group marriage type situation. Several articles I found went so far as to say Polifidelity wasn't a term commonly used in the Polyamorous community. A statement with which I would strongly disagree today.

Personally I consider all of my poly relationships to be fidelitous, regardless of the terms used. All of my partners will know about any other partners I may have. They usually involve commitments and/or rules, which we all expect to follow and be followed. I think that fits the concept of fidelity pretty well. At least as well as monogamy, to which polyamory is often compared in the situations mentioned above.

What do you think? Are Polyamory and Fidelity concepts that are complimentary?

Or is it impossible to have a Polyfidelitous relationship?


  1. Of course fidelity and polyamory are complimentary concepts. As you pointed out about the term "faithful" and it's association to polyamory so does the term "fidelity", which means "1. strict observance to promises, duty, etc.; 2. loyalty".

    They key to polyamory is the observance to promises and loyalty to your partners by being honest with them about your other relationships, and just like a monogamous relationship, being there when the need you, standing-up for them and having their back. You know, loyalty.

    I think too many people ascribe their own meanings to words like "faithful" and "fidelity" and even "cheating", without really ever looking them up or considering their true usage.

  2. LScribbens,

    I think you are right. People do often define words based on their opinion rather than the true usage of the word.

    Great comment, thanks!