Solo polyamory is a relationship philosophy and model someone does not have a primary partnership but pursues and cultivates intimate, romantic, and/or sexual relationships with multiple people. Due to this potential of multiple simultaneous important or committed relationships, it falls under the umbrella of ethical non-monogamy.
Single or Solo Polyamory
People who choose to practice solo polyamory are not part of a main or primary relationship as in typical iterations of polyamory or open relationships, nor in a committed multi-person relationship unit as in polyfidelity. In solo polyamory, one typically maintains their independence alongside any partnerships. Outwardly, this can be single-like in appearance, hence it sometimes being called a “single-ish” lifestyle. However, because intimate relationships are pursued, formed, and maintained, it is not the same as being single.
Solo polyamorists tend not to not subscribe to following the milestones typical of the so-called relationship escalator such as cohabiting with a partner, sharing finances, engagement, getting married, or having and raising children together. They may or may not use traditional titles for their partners (e.g. boyfriend/girlfriend, partner). They may consider themselves their own primary partner.
Solo Polyamory and Relationship Anarchy
Because solo polyamory is characterized by a lack of primary partner, some people who practice solo polyamory may also subscribe to non-hierarchical polyamory or relationship anarchy. A relationship anarchist does not ascribe a priority ranking to their partners and relationships; there is no primary partnership which takes priority over any other relationships.
All relationships are considered important in their own right and priority is not assigned to sexual, romantic, or traditionally primary relationships over others, the way that it is in an amatonormative society (i.e. a system that centres monogamous romantic relationships and/or marriage). The rules for each relationship are determined when the relationship is formed and as it develops, rather than forcing the relationship to conform to any predetermined rules.
Solo Polyamory vs Casual Dating
Solo polyamory could appear to some as casual dating and some people who practice solo polyamory may date casually. However, they may also form long term committed relationships. Ethical non-monogamy stresses open and regular communication. In its healthiest and most consensual expression, solo polyamorists will disclose to their partners when they are engaging intimately with others, especially when the connections are sexual in nature for the sake of informed consent and matters of sexual health.
Solo polyamory is not about the volume of people one engages with on an intimate level but a relationship philosophy for how one approaches the relationships they form. The emphasis is on maintaining one’s independence while also creating meaningful relationships, in whatever shape they may take for that person.
Solo Polyamory vs Cheating
Relationship infidelity, or cheating, is the breach of boundaries and terms of a given relationship. Cheating can happen in any relationship structure, regardless of the number of people involved. However, non-monogamy and polyamory are not synonymous with cheating. It is only cheating if it goes against the terms laid out by the involved parties.
All forms of polyamory, including solo polyamory, emphasize communication practices like determining the rules of a given relationship with the partners involved, negotiating terms, and regular check-ins to assure the wellbeing of everyone involved and to manage any issues or jealousy that may arise along the way.