Navigating the waters of polyamory can be both daunting and super exciting, especially when you’re new to it. If you’ve looked into it, you may have noticed there are many ways to engage in it. So the question may arise: how do I know what will work for me?!

Believe it or not, everyone who’s engaged in some form of non-monogamy or another has been where you are now. The beauty of polyamory is that it works in many different ways depending on the needs and desires of the people involved. What it means is that you have the power to create the relationship structure that will work best for you.

Exploring polyamory is exciting precisely because you have so many options to navigate. You may like several dating styles or prefer just one, but what matters is you have the opportunity to choose for yourself. Discovering what works for you will take time, but it’s exciting, especially if you haven’t explored yourself this way before.

To help you navigate the waters of polyamory, today we’ll be taking a look at the different types of poly relationships so you can have a clear idea of what might work best for you. Let’s get started!

Types of Polyamorous Relationships

Polyamorous relationships can have many different structures, but at its center, it’s only about having romantic relationships with multiple people. If you’re already in a relationship, it will mean being involved with other people. This can be done in many different ways, some of which we’ll discuss below:

Triad Relationship

A triad relationship is when three people are dating and they’re all involved with each other either sexually or emotionally. It’s similar to a V Relationship, where someone is involved with two people, but these two people are not involved with one another.

Quad Relationship

A quad relationship is when four people are dating, and they may or may not be all involved with one another. The most common form of a quad relationship is called cross-coupling, which is when two couples become a quad couple.

Hierarchical and Non-Hierarchical Polyamory

Hierarchical polyamory is a relationship dynamic more than a structure. In this dynamic, there’s the main relationship and secondary relationship. The main relationship is exclusive and it’s the priority of the poly relationship. In this kind of dynamic, the main couple will have veto power.

That means that if your partner doesn’t want you to date someone, for some reason (usually a good one), they can veto that person, which would essentially end your secondary relationship, and you could do the same. However, this must be agreed upon.

A non-hierarchical polyamory relationship is the opposite, meaning you’re both free to date whoever you want and there’s no veto power. But that doesn’t mean there’s no structure, rules or boundaries.

Solo Polyamory

Solo polyamory is a form of polyamory where you can date multiple people, but not have a committed relationship with anyone. Many engage in solo polyamory when they don’t want to lose their autonomy or have a long-term relationship for whatever reason. Usually, they have other priorities in life and a steady relationship is not one of them.

Solo relationships are very flexible so someone can date multiple people but not form a triad or a quad. That’s simply because people who engage with this kind of structure value their individuality and their free will more than being in a relationship.

Open Relationship

Having an open relationship is where you have the freedom to have sexual relationships with other people. This is focused primarily on sexual relationships, meaning there’s no romantic attachment allowed with other people. In an open relationship, you may share everything about each other’s partners or you can simply be aware that you’re seeing other people but without getting into much detail about it.

Other Types of Non-Monogamy

Polyamorous relationships are the only way to engage in non-monogamy. Other types of non-monogamous relationships may work very well for you. Let’s take a look at some of them:

Ethical Non-Monogamous Relationship

Ethical non-monogamy is a term that encompasses many things, but at its core, it means the people involved are ethical about their non-monogamy, meaning they prioritize communication, boundaries, needs, and desires. Within ethical non-monogamy, the relationship can be sexual or romantic.


Some people would pin swinging under the polyamory category, but others don’t. We’re including it under non-monogamy because it’s a dating style that many couples prefer. Swinging refers to a couple that engages in sexual relationships with other people, whether that’s with individuals (threesomes, foursomes, etc.) or other couples. Swingers don’t get intimate or romantic with other people, so the relationship with others is purely sexual.

Relationship By Design

Relationship by design is a dating style that’s very open for interpretation. It simply means that you can design your relationship with every person you decide to be involved with. That means you can have both sexual relationships and intimate relationships, it’s up to you and the people you date.

The key is finding the kind of relationship that works well with every individual, so it’s a great type of non-monogamy. Most people who engage in relationships by design often have a primary partner and as many second partners as they choose. Of course, everyone involved is aware of the arrangement, so there’s no lying or cheating involved.


This type of non-monogamous relationship consists of a main relationship that’s not sexually exclusive. Their secondary relationships are purely sexual and they’re often seen in such a way that they enhance and strengthen the primary relationship.

As you can see here today, there’s a lot of information to absorb about polyamory. We’ve given you a quick rundown today and we encourage you to research the kind of relationship that appeals to you the most. The main takeaway here is that there’s simply no “right” way of being polyamorous; it can take many forms and the one you choose for yourself will depend on the kind of relationship you’re looking for, your needs, and your desires.


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