A listing of terms, and their definitions, as we use them on this site. These are not meant to be viewed as our version of the “one true meaning” of the words noted, rather it is meant to explain to our readers how we will use these words on this site.


The word monogamy comes from the Greek , [monos, which means one or alone] and [gamos, which means marriage] Although by its etymology, monogamy would literally mean a marriage in which an individual has only one spouse, we will use “monogamy” in a more general sense to describe the state of having only one sexual partner, who is the sole object of romantic love in your life, irrespective of marriage, gender, or reproduction.


This is an inclusive term that includes all relationship paradigms that are not monogamous.


The word polyamory comes from GreekĀ  [poly, meaning many or several] and Latin amor. [love] We will use “polyamory” to describe the practice of having more than one sexual or romantic relationship at the same time with the knowledge and consent of everyone involved. An emphasis on ethics, honesty, loyalty, fidelity, and transparency is widely regarded as the crucial defining characteristic that distinguishes polyamory from other forms of non-monogamy.


A legal contract, and/or social union, that unites individuals as members of a single family in the eyes of the church, the state, or both.

Open marriage

A marriage where one or both members of a committed couple may become sexually active with other partners, with the knowledge and consent of their spouse.

Open relationship

A non-monogamous relationship in which two people agree that they want to be together, with a level of commitment that they agree upon, but do not choose to promise that they won’t see other people, too.


Inclusive term for a long-term relationship, which may or may not be a legally recognized marriage.


Inclusive term to include people involved in a long-term relationship, whether married or not.


Marriage partner


Literally, meta = with; or about + amor = love. In a polyamorous relationship, where your lover has more than one lover, a metamour is the name given to your partner’s other lover(s), with whom you do not share a direct sexual or romantic relationship.


Literally faithfulness. We use it here to denote adherence to a negotiated agreement between partners. The definition of the boundaries of propriety for your relationship are for you to decide. We consider “fidelity” the act of keeping your word, of staying true to your agreement.


Having multiple sexual relationships with no commitment to fidelity


Dating or having sex with someone other than your partner(s) with no concern for your partner’s knowledge or consent, especially when it is known your partner would not consent.

Full disclosure

Complete transparency in communication

Don’t ask, Don’t tell

Used in relationships with less transparent communication to limit communication about external partners


An incremental loss of fear based on trust that comes as the result of being vulnerable to another.

Emotional intimacy

Sharing private thoughts and emotions with another. It depends primarily on the level of trust, and the nature of the relationship. Emotional intimacy might involve disclosing thoughts, feelings and emotions in order to reach an understanding, offer mutual support or build a sense of community.

Physical intimacy

Touching, or allowing yourself to be touched by, another. It can be enjoyed by itself as an expression of feelings which people have for one another, which can range from friendship to romance. Examples of physical intimacy include being inside someone’s personal space, holding hands, hugging, kissing, caressing, and sexual touching, which might involve penetration, or not.

Sexual contact

Interacting with another person in any way that is intended to be sexually arousing to either or both parties. The line defining the boundary between physical intimacy and sexual contact can be highly personal, and partners should be very clear in their discussions of what constitutes sexual contact.


An emotional response based on insecurity and fear of losing something or someone. Jealousy expresses a sense of ownership that is often inappropriate. Jealousy can be caused by suspicion or anger relating to a betrayal that may be real or imagined; by low self-esteem, uncertainty, or loneliness; or by fear of losing a person who is important to you to another who may seem more attractive.


An emotional response based on desire for something one wants, but does not have. It is usually directed at a person who does have the desired thing. Envy expresses a sense of injustice that is often inappropriate. On one hand envy can be a healthy motivator, on the other it can be malevolent and harmful. At its worst, envy can be used as an excuse to destroy what another person has, to remove the source of envy.


A state of empathetic happiness experienced in response to a romantic partner experiencing happiness and/or joy through an outside source, which may include, but is not limited to, another romantic or sexual interest. This can be experienced as any form of erotic or emotional empathy, depending on the person experiencing the emotion.

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