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What Is Solo Polyamory?

Medically Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on June 30, 2021

Solo polyamory means that someone has multiple intimate relationships with people but has an independent or single lifestyle. They may not live with partners, share finances, or have a desire to reach traditional relationship milestones in which partners’ lives become more intertwined.

However, others practice solo polyamory due to circumstances. Polyamorous people who have recently gotten out of a serious partnership may practice solo polyamory for a time. This means that they do not currently have a partner but still identify as polyamorous.

Other Names or Forms of the Solo Polyamory

Solo polyamory is also called “singleish,” Some solo polyamorists essentially operate as independent, single people, but have some partnerships. That means they are not single in the traditional sense of the word. So, they are single-ish.

Some people who practice solo polyamory may also practice relationship anarchy or non-hierarchical polyamory. Relationship anarchists don’t rank partners by importance. So they don’t have primary or secondary partners and may consider their romantic partners on the same level as their friends. They also create their own rules for each relationship. 

What Is the Difference Between Solo Polyamory and Polyamory?

People who practice solo polyamory are not part of a committed partnership or multi-person relationship unit. That doesn’t mean they don’t have any intimate relationships. It just means they don't live with romantic partners, and they tend to refrain from engagement and marriage.

Solo polyamorists’ relationships don’t follow the “relationship escalator” model. The escalator represents traditional relationship milestones and goals. It typically applies to heterosexual monogamous relationships. Relationship milestones on the escalator that solo poly people may or may not participate in include:

  • Public appearances as a couple
  • Using relationship labels (partner, boyfriend/girlfriend, etc.)
  • Living together
  • Merging finances
  • Engagement & marriage
  • Having children together

Other types of polyamorous people who do not practice solo polyamory may or may not follow the escalator model.

Myths and Misconceptions About Solo Polyamory

As with all different types of sexual orientation, people develop their own beliefs, myths, and misconceptions about people who practice solo polyamory. These are a few.

Myth: Solo Polyamorists Are Just Afraid of Commitment

While some polyamorous people avoid or fear commitment—similar to some monogamous (one-partner) people—most people who pratice solo polyamory live the lifestyle simply because it is best suited to who they are. Some polyamorous people believe that the lifestyle takes more commitment because it requires a lot of communication, self-reflection, and coordination with multiple partners. 

Solo polyamorous people value their independence and enjoy spending time on their own, but are still committed to their partners.

Myth: People Who Practice Solo Polyamory Aren't Doing Polyamory Correctly

Solo polyamory does carry some stigma, even within the polyamorous community. Some polyamorous people may say that solo poly people are not performing polyamory correctly.

However, that is not true. Solo polyamory is a valid lifestyle. Both polyamorous and solo polyamorous people get to make their own relationship agreements. There is no single right way to do polyamory or solo polyamory.

How Solo Polyamory Works in Relationships

People who are solo polyamorous do have relationships, but they retain an independent lifestyle. 

Instead of having a primary partner—one that most closely resembles a traditional monogamous partnership in polyamorous relationships—some solo polyamorists consider themselves their primary partner. They may be more focused on work, hobbies, or personal growth, than their romantic partnerships. 

Some solo polyamory practitioners have non-traditional non-romantic primary partnerships. It may be a roommate, a close friend, or a family member. These relationships are platonic (non-sexual). These solo polyamorists still have sexual and romantic relationships, but they build their life around their platonic relationship, not their romantic partners. 

They may not be solo polyamorous forever and may choose to get married or enter into a more traditional partnership one day. 

Safety Advice and Special Considerations

Having multiple relationships does mean taking precautions, especially if sex is involved. These are a few things to consider.

Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD) Prevention

When you have multiple sexual partners, you may be at greater risk of getting a sexually transmitted disease (STD). Make sure to practice safer sex using the methods you are comfortable with. 

WebMD Medical Reference

Sources

SOURCES:

Bustle: “7 Signs You'd Thrive In This Type Of Polyamorous Relationship.”

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: “STDs and HIV – CDC Fact Sheet.”

The Cut: “What It’s Like Being a Relationship Anarchist.”

Psychology Today: “Myths About Polyamory.”

Psychology Today: “Solo Polyamory, Singleish, Single & Poly.”

Solo Poly: “Riding the relationship escalator (or not).”

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