Polyamory (from Greek [poly, meaning many or several] and Latin amor [love]) is the practice, desire, or acceptance of having more than one loving, intimate relationship at a time with the full knowledge and free consent of everyone involved.
Polyamory, often abbreviated to poly, is sometimes described as consensual, ethical, or responsible non-monogamy. The word is occasionally used more broadly to refer to any sexual or romantic relationships that are not sexually exclusive, though there is disagreement on how broadly it applies; an emphasis on ethics, honesty, and transparency all around is widely regarded as the crucial defining characteristic.
"Polyamorous" can refer to the nature of a relationship at a given time, or be used as a description of a philosophy or relationship orientation (much like gender orientation), rather than a person's actual relationship status at a given moment. It is an umbrella term that covers various forms of multiple relationships; polyamorous arrangements are varied, reflecting the choices and philosophies of the individuals involved.
Polyamory differs from polygamy, which refers to multiple marriage (although polygamy is often used only to refer to polygyny: one man with several wives.) Traditional polygamy is usually patriarchical and often claims a religious justification. Polyamory, on the other hand, is a more modern outlook grounded in such concepts as gender equality, self-determination, free choice for all involved, mutual trust, equal respect among partners, the intrinsic value of love, the ideal of compersion, and other mostly secular ideals.
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