What Does It Mean To Be Solo Polyamorous? 7 Signs You're Suited To Have Several Secondary Partners
When we think of polyamory, we usually think of someone who has multiple committed relationships or one primary relationship plus several secondary partners. But others instead prefer to have a number of secondary partners. Some of these people refer to themselves as "solo polyamorous" or "solo poly."
What distinguishes solo poly people from other poly people is that they don't usually consider themselves part of a couple, triad, or other unit, psychologist and coach Dr. Liz Powell, who is solo poly herself, tells Bustle. Even if they have partners, they often won't cohabit, merge their finances, or get married. Being solo poly is also different from being single. "You can have multiple deep, loving relationships while being solo poly," says Powell.
Aside from the logistics, solo poly is also a value system. A solo poly person's primary allegiance is to themselves. Independence and freedom are more important to them than building a life with someone. "Solo poly is more about how you approach relationships than about how any of those relationships end up looking from the outside," Powell says. "It challenges more of the assumptions from mainstream relationships about how a relationship should look or how autonomous people should be in relationships." Solo poly people will sometimes say they're "their own primary," referring to the term "primary partner" for a poly person's most committed relationship.
Think that sounds like you? Here are some signs that you might thrive being solo poly.
1. Relationships Make You Feel Suffocated
We all have our limits for how much time and commitment we can devote to someone. But if all your relationships have felt like they required you to give too much of yourself, coupling up may just not be for you. "One of the ways I explain my version of solo poly is 'No one gets to tell me what to do with my body, my heart, my mind, or my time,'" says Powell.
2. You're A Good Communicator
This is really a requirement for being poly in general, but a solo poly lifestyle requires a particular kind of communication, says Powell. You have to make your partners feel like you're considering what they want while also putting what you want first.
3. You're Able To Stand Up For Yourself
When other people want more than you can give, you'll have to disappoint them, and you need to be OK with that. "Good boundaries are essential, as many people may unintentionally attempt to bring solo poly folks back into more mainstream patterns of relating," says Powell.
4. You Know What You Want
"You need to be good at advocating for what you want and need, since you can't rely on usual relationship expectations to get your needs met," says Powell. "In addition, people tend to do best in solo poly when they are good at encouraging their partners to do what works best for them."
5. You're Happiest Alone
Many solo poly people may have the best time by themselves and don't want to sacrifice their alone time for anyone else. "If you're someone who values your independence, solo poly might be a good fit for you," says Powell.
6. You Don't Like Factoring Other People Into Your Decisions
It's liberating to do exactly what you want when you want it and make major life choices without consulting anyone. Being solo poly can afford you the ability to make these calls on your own.
7. You're Secure In Your Relationships
Many relationships with solo poly people don't require a specific amount of time, a ring, or other traditional markers of love to prove their affections. "Solo poly is a practice that treats relationships as interactions between independent adults," says Powell.
There are no hard and fast rules, though. Some solo poly people do get married or spend a lot of time with their partners. The identity is more about how you feel, and you can adopt whatever label feels right to you.