Polyamory consists of multiple overlapping intimate relationships, with the consent of all concerned. The extent of these relationships can range from casual dating to long-term marriage. Some polyamorous setups consist of a primary two-person relationship and other secondary relationships, while others consist of a group of more than two people all collectively in relationships, as well as many other systems. Over time and between cultures, the social and legal status of polyamory has varied from a default or salutatory status to frowned upon, shunned or illegal status.

Much of the difficulty in handling polyamory comes from the handling of adultery, namely engaging in an intimate relationship without the knowledge or free consent of another partner. Adultery is fairly uniformly frowned upon, though the level of opprobrium varies across cultures. Polyamory is distinguished by its voluntary and consensual status, but some view polyamory and adultery as similarly problematic.

Some people seek out polyamorous relationships, some avoid them at all costs, and others are neutral. Many people have never heard of or considered the possibility. Also, polyamory takes on a different status depending on the nature of the relationships involved. Polyamorous dating may be viewed differently from polyamorous marriage, for instance.

In this week’s discussion, we therefore ask: Are polyamorous relationships a reasonable relationship type for people to consider? Should they be frowned upon by society and laws, or treated as any other relationship? Does this answer depend on the intensity of the relationship(s) in question?