Open relationship people sometimes love their definitions.  I made a little glossary to help sort out common words and expressions.  It’s not all inclusive, so feel free to suggest one.  These are MY definitions and I don’t claim they are the only right definitions or the best definitions for everyone.  They are just here for those who will find them useful.  🙂

  • BDSM: bondage, discipline, dominance, submission, sadism, masochism.
  • Bisexual: being attracted to both male and female
  • Bright eyed novice [BeN]: a person who has just discovered Polyamory. Handle at your own risk as they tend to date as if eating at a buffet because they are still unaware of the amount of energy and work they will need to make their relationships work and have not yet refined their communication skills. (from
  • Closed group marriage: A group of individuals who describe themselves as married and are not open to outside sexual partners
  • Closed Group Swinging: A form of swinging in which people have sex with those inside of a set group of people and not with people outside of the group. See also friends-first swinging.
  • Commitment: an oath, pledge, promise or responsibility.  Not necessarily synonymous with sexual fidelity.  Many open relationships are committed.
  • Compersion –Joy at another’s joy.  Feelings of joy and vicarious pleasure at a partner’s happiness.  Especially the joy people often feel to see their partners having great experiences with others.
  • Condom Compact or Contract: an agreement about how people within the contract or compact will use condoms.  Often includes things like “condoms will be used with all penetrative sex with people outside of the group”
  • Cowboy: A non-poly person who dates a poly person and attempts to or steals them away for monogamy.  “Roping” them.
  • DADT: don’t ask don’t tell.  A certain kind of open agreement where participants may engage in certain dating and sexual behaviors while not disclosing to their partners or asking their partners about such activities.  Generally it is a way insecure couples try to control for jealousy or hurt feelings.  Ironically it usually arouses and increases jealousy.
  • Dyad: a relationship of two people.  Most groups of poly people are made up of dyads.
  • Ethical Slut: A person who openly chooses to have multiple simultaneous sexual relationships in an ethical and responsible way
  • Expanded Family: a relationship in which three or more partners consciously chose each other as family, partners may or may not live together, there is the potential for all family members to be sexual with each other if they mutually chose to do so but this is not a requirement for family membership, syn intentional family (from polyamory
  • Fluid Bonded: sharing sexual fluids.  Usually refers to people who have agreements not to use condoms for penetrative sex.
  • Foursome: relationship or sexual arrangement of 4 people
  • Fuck Buddy: person one has sex with but generally no other romantic relationship
  • FWB: Friends with Benefits or Friend with Benefits refers to the relationship type or person one has sex with and generally no more than a friendship with.  May or may not actually be friends.
  • Group Marriage: a marriage involving more than two people
  • Group Partner: a person in a  group marriage or relationship
  • Group Relationship: a committed, loving relationship with more than 2 people
  • Handfasting- a pagan or other ceremony symbolizing or solidifying a commitment.  May be for as long as is loving, a year and a day, or other length of time.
  • HBB: hot bi-babe.  Sometimes called a unicorn.
  • Hinge: in a relationship of 3 people, called a Vee, the person involved with the two others who are not involved with each other.  In a V, they would be the bottom tip of the V, dating two people who aren’t dating each other.  Can also be called the pivot.
  • Inclusive Relationship: a relationship in which partners agree to include more lovers into their relationship
  • Insecurity: a feeling about oneself as being inferior, less than, undeserving or somehow lessened
  • Intentional Family: a relationship in which three or more partners consciously chose each other as family, partners may or may not live together, there is the potential for all family members to be sexual with each other if they mutually chose to do so but this is not a requirement for family membership, syn expanded family (from
  • Intimate Network: a web of individuals who have romantic and platonic relationships with each other.  Hierarchies, if there are any, may be fluid and vague or nonexistent
  • Jealousy: jealous resentment against a rival, a person enjoying success or advantage, etc., or against another’s success or advantage itself.  2.) mental uneasiness from suspicion or fear of rivalry, unfaithfulness, etc., as in love or aims.  3) vigilance in maintaining or guarding something.  4) the opposite of compersion.  5) negative, angry feelings that a group or an individual can prevoke in another group or individual.  6) suspicious of a rival or of one believed to enjoy an advantage.  (from partially)
  • Kink: sexual practices that are beyond or different than what are considered conventional sexual practices.
  • Kink Club: club where fetish or BDSM practices or parties are held.
  • Line Marriage: a term from the works of Robert A. Heinlein, science fiction writer, meaning a marriage that from time to time adds younger members, eventually establishing an equilibrium population, spouses dying off at the same rate as new ones are added, this is a different form of familial immortality than the traditional one of successive generations of children.  (from
  • Low investment relationship: relationship requiring little in terms of time, energy or resources.  Examples might include play partners, occasional lovers, or fwb’s.
  • Meta meta or metasquares: the people in a “polycule” or group of poly people one is dating and whose partners are dating that are not your partners or direct “metamours”, or partner’s partners.  For example, the man who is also dating your partner’s girlfriend would be your meta meta, or metasquare.  Commonly called “meta”, just like metamours.
  • Metamour: a partner’s partner.  Someone also dating a person you are dating is your metamour.  Commonly called your “meta”.
  • Monogamish: A relationship which is not necessarily sexually fidelitous, but that differs from polyamory in that the outside sexual relationships are seen as primarily sexual rather than romantic, without necessarily having any expectation of continuity, and are viewed as enhancing the primary couple. See related open marriage. Etymology: The term was coined by columnist Dan Savage to describe committed relationships that still allow some “outside” sexual dalliances.
  • New Relationship Energy (NRE): commonly called NRE, it is the energy of a new relationship’s excitement and discovery.  It is also used to refer to the “infatuation” phase of a new relationship where people see their new partners as nearly perfect.  New shiny.
  • NRE JUNKIE: A term sometimes applied, often dismissively, to a person who starts many new relationships in rapid succession but does not seem to maintain relationships for very long. Such a person may appear to seek out the euphoria and intense emotion associated with new relationship energy over the maintenance of a long-term relationship. Commentary: Some psychologists and psychiatrists believe that the intensity and euphoria associated with new relationship energy can be psychologically addictive; in the psychiatric community, the term “love addiction” is sometimes used to describe this behavior.  (from
  • NRE: See new relationship energy.
  • Odd-One-Out Syndrome: an intimate situation where one person feels left out.
  • Old Relationship Energy (ORE): The feeling of comfort, security, and stability often associated with a long-standing romantic relationship. Contrast new relationship energy.
  • One Penis Policy: An arrangement in which a man is allowed to have more than one female partner, and the woman may date more than one woman, but no other men are allowed.
  • Open: when talking about relationships, refers to a non-monogamous relationship.  May or may not be polyamorous, swinging, monogamish, or any other arrangement.
  • Open Group Marriage: A group of individuals who describe themselves as married.  Open means one or some may date or have sex with others if they choose, depending on specific agreements.
  • Open Marriage: a marriage that is not necessarily monogamous.  Spouses may date or have sex with others depending on the specific marriage’s agreements.
  • Open Relationship: a relationship that is not necessarily monogamous or where participants may date or have sex with others, depending on the relationships agreements.
  • Other Significant Other (OSO): A person’s other committed or important partner.
  • Pansexual: attacted romantically or physically to a variety of genders
  • Partner: there are differing views of what makes a partner in a relationship, but generally it is a participant in a relationship and usually means something more than a person who is just dating, seeing or having sex with someone.  Generally seems to imply some other kind of commitment or relationship.
  • Pivot: like the hinge, this is the person who is dating both of the other members who are not dating each other in a Vee.. or sometimes in a W (made up of 5 people)
  • Play: in a sexual context, refers to either bdsm sex or sometimes to swinging
  • Play partner: a person who one has sex or bdsm play with
  • Plural marriage: usually used by polygamist sects, this is a marriage of more than 2 people.
  • Poly: short for polyamory, or polyamorous
  • Poly Fidelity: an arrangement of poly relationships that are fidelous or sexually/romantically open only to members of the relationship/s.
  • Poly mantra- “Communicate. Communicate.  Communicate”.  Also, “love is limitless but time and energy are not”.  And.. “Lemme check my Google Calendar”!
  • Poly/mono or mono/poly- relationship where one person is monogamous and the other polyamorous.
  • Polyactivist: person who campaigns, educates or works in some way to advance causes of polyamory and polygamous people and relationships.
  • Polyaffective: A form of chosen kinship.  Nonsexual relationships among members of a poly grouping.  Characterized by emotional intimacy, companionship, and reciprocal support.  Differs from “regular” friendship in the level of devotion and primacy of import.
  • Polyamorous- Having the tendency or practice of multiple loving committed relationships with the knowledge and consent of all involved parties.
  • Polyamory- the practice or relationship style of being open to the possibility of people having more than one loving, intimate relationship at a time, with full knowledge and consent by all involved
  • Polyandry: a relationship with a woman and multiple men.
  • Polyfamily: a family made up of polyamorous people who have chosen to be a family.  Sometimes called a tribe.
  • Polygamy- one person with multiple partners.  Often used to refer to people like fundamentalist Mormons practicing polygyny.
  • Polygyny: one man with more than one wife.
  • Polysaturated- not open to new partners because of the number of existing partners or limits of time.  Having reached the maximum number of partners.
  • Polysingleish: a relationship where a person is their own primary partner and may or may not have other intimate relationships.
  • Primary partner: when people are practicing hierarchal poly, or they rank or order partners, the partner or partners that are first, or get the most time or resources generally.
  • Primary relationship: if some relationships are less involved than other or hierarchal, the primary relationship is generally the one that gets the most time or resources or has the greatest commitment.
  • Process: what poly people say they do to emotions.  It is often used to refer to situations like breaking down emotions or reactions to get to their causes or conditions.  One might process a feeling of jealousy for example and realize they would like some reassurance from a partner to alleviate jealous feelings and feel secure.  Or one might realize why they are jealous and be able to unravel the feeling of jealousy with working on one’s self or letting go of something.
  • Quad: relationship of four people who may have any arrangement of who is involved with who.
  • Relationship Anarchy: A philosophy or practice in which people are seen as free to engage in any relationships they choose, that spontaneity and freedom are desirable and necessary traits in healthy relationships, that no relationship should be entered into or restricted from a sense of duty or obligation, that any relationship choice is (or should be) allowable, and in which there is not necessarily a clear distinction between “partner” and “non-partner.”  (from
  • Safe sex agreement: A contract that is either written or verbal about what practices for sexual safety members of a relationship or group will engage in.
  • Safe Sex: ideal 100% safe sexual activity and especially sexual intercourse in which various measures (as the use of latex condoms) are taken to avoid diseases (as AIDS and other STI’s) which are transmitted by sexual contact
  • Safer Sex: reality, not 100% safe, sexual activity and sexual intercourse where various measures are taken such as the use of latex condoms and barriers to avoid sexually transmitted infections also taking into account that no such measure is 100% safe or foolproof
  • Sapiosexual: sexual attraction to people based on their intelligence.
  • Secondary Partner: a person who is in a hierarchal relationship or a relationship with higher and lower levels of involvement with various partners where they are not the primary or main partner or parners
  • Serial Monogamy : a succession of monogamous partners over time, sometimes overlapping.
  • Sex Club: a club where swing, bdsm, play or sex parties and/or events are held
  • Sex Negative: a person with the belief that sexuality in general dirty or distasteful
  • Sex Positive: a person who is comfortable with sexuality in general
  • Sister wife: a term used by polygamist groups that I have stolen for my metamours sometimes
  • Solo poly: a person who is polyamorous and single or not in a primary relationship
  • Swinging: the practice of couples or singles having sexual encounters or relationships that aren’t necessarily involving romantic or intimate interest.  It is often practiced by couples.
  • Swing Club: a club or establishment where swing parties and events are held
  • Swolly: A person who identifies as both polyamorous and also as a swinger; that is, a person who has multiple simultaneous relationships and also enjoys recreational sex in a swinging context
  • Tertiary- of third rank/importance or less rank or importance than secondary or primary
  • Triad: a relationship of 3 people
  • Triangle: another term for triad
  • Unicorn: the rare and often felt mythical hot bi babe that will date a couple equally.  Often new couples seek this mythical creature and are known as unicorn hunters.  Unicorns can also be male, but are less often referring to males
  • Vee: a relationship of 3 people where one person is dating two others who, unlike a triad, are not dating each other.
  • Veto: a common limit of new poly and open people and couples where someone has the power to end or stop from starting the relationship of two others.



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