The Basics - Polyamory
So, what's this Polyamory thing?
Polyamory: from the greek 'poly' for 'many' and the latin 'amor' for 'love' - literally means 'many loves'
My personal definition : The philosophy of honestly, openly and responsibly choosing how many people you can romantically love at the same time, rather than accepting social norms which dictate loving only one person at a time. Another term for polyamory is "responsible non-monogamy."
There is a wide range of what polyamory can mean to different people, as love itself is a term with a wide range of definitions. But the three major components of polyamory for me are:
Love - This is a romantic/emotional love, that may or may not include sexual/erotic intimacy (usually it does... but sex is not the focus).
Open - everyone involved knows what you're up to - there's no hiding the relationships. Usually your partner(s) all not only know about your other relationships, but they approve of them. They usually know or may be friends with your other sweeties. Heck, they may even be involved with them too.
Honest - Being truthful about your relationships, feelings and expectations. (This requires being honest with yourself first and foremost.)
Polyamory can take many forms, from multiple people all living together and sharing day-to-day life together. Or it could be an individual who is dating multiple people with no intention of settling down with any one. Or it could be a primary couple who each have other relationships, together or separately. Or perhaps it's an interconnected network of people who are involved with each other. Or perhaps it's a relationship form that I've not mentioned here.
Furthermore, polyamory is more of a philosophy and approach to relationships than it is a practice. One does not have to be having multiple relationships to be polyamorous. It's more of an attitude of not forming intentionally monogamous relationships, and of keeping the option of having more than one romantic relationship open. Yes, this means a polyamorous person could be a 'single' person who is currently in no relationships, providing that individual is not looking to enter into a monogamous relationship.
But what polyamory is NOT is cheating. One of the requirements of poly is that everyone involved knows about and supports everyone's other relationships, usually even knows the people.