What is polyamory: inside the relationship trend that everyone's talking about

Willow Smith recently opened up about what is polyamory and now it's the question on everyone's lips

Low Section Of Polyamorous People In Bed
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What is polyamory? Defining the relationship was the main topic of conversation on a recent Red Table Talk, with twenty-year-old Willow Smith appearing on the Facebook show to openly discuss her views, explain what is polyamory and detail why she identifies as polyamorous.

Sitting down with her mother Jada Pinkett Smith and grandmother Adrienne "Gammy" Banfield Norris, Willow said: "The reasons why I actually was interested in poly was because I was introduced to it through kind of a nonsexual lens."

She continued: “With polyamory, I feel like the main foundation is the freedom to be able to create a relationship style that works for you and not just stepping into monogamy because that's what everyone around you says is the right thing to do.”

Although news is circulating about polyamorous entanglements in the wake of Willow Smith's reveal, many are still asking themselves: "Exactly, what is polyamory?" As the term comes to the forefront, we'll guide you through all of the details.

Polyamory relationship meaning: what is a polyamorous relationship?

According to Psychology Today, polyamory is considered the "consensual nonmonogamy." Essentially, it is being able to have multiple intimate relationships—sexual or simply romantic—with several parties, provided everyone is in agreement. The publication also notes that polyamory is not gender-specific. 

Polyamory vs. polygamy: What are the differences? 

Many are beginning to confuse polyamory and polygamy, two seemingly identical ideologies. However, there are key differences to consider. In short, polyamory is having several consensual romantic or sexual partners, whereas polygamy is the practice of having multiple spouses simultaneously.

Polyamory is legal in the United States, whereas polygamy is not legal except in the state of Utah. 

polyamory, hearts representing polyamory

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Celebrities who identify or have identified with polyamory

Previously, Bella Thorne has been involved in a polyamorous relationship with rapper Mod Sun and YouTuber Tana Mongeau.

"I don't think anybody will really understand the bonds that I share with Mod or Tana," Thorne said to Gay Times. "Yeah, we joke around about poly, but we aren't in the sense that we don't put a word, a box, or label too many things. It is what it is."

Younger star Nico Tortorella and partner Bethany Meyers have labeled their relationship as "queer polyamorous," however, they prefer not to be specific about terms. 

"Most think we planned this and one day decided we would be multiple-love kind of people. We didn't. It's just the way our relationship developed over 12 years," the couple wrote in a joint essay for Them

When did polyamory gain popularity?

In 2019, the term begin to catch on more in the mainstream and many became curious about what is polyamory and what a polyamorous relationship entails.

According to Men's Health, it is suspected that roughly five percent of Americans were involved in polyamorous relationships at the time and nearly 20 percent of Americans tried it. And the number was likely to grow.  

Although there are many different forms a polyamorous relationship could take, it appears Willow Smith believes she is best suited to have no more than two partners. Provided there is consent, mom Jada Pinkett Smith is all for whatever makes her daughter happy. 

Pinkett Smith said: "When you were like, 'Hey, this is my get down.' I was like, 'I totally get it.' Wanting to set up your life in a way that you can have what it is that you want, I think anything goes as long as the intentions are clear."

Danielle Valente
Digital News Writer

Need a TV show recommendation? Maybe a few decor tips? Danielle, a digital news writer at Future, has you covered. Her work appears throughout the company’s lifestyle brands, including My Imperfect Life, Real Homes, and woman&home. Mainly, her time is spent at My Imperfect Life, where she’s attuned to the latest entertainment trends and dating advice for Gen Z.

Before her time at Future, Danielle was the editor of Time Out New York Kids, where she got to experience the best of the city from the point of view of its littlest residents. Before that, she was a news editor at Elite Daily. Her work has also appeared in Domino, Chowhound, and amNewYork, to name a few. 

When Danielle’s not writing, you can find her testing out a new recipe, reading a book (suggestions always welcome), or rearranging the furniture in her apartment…again.