The Big Dictionary of
Polyamory and Open Relationships Lingo

Wondering about open relationships? Online, there’s tons of resources. There’s also a ton of specific and sometimes confusing lingo. We compiled a dictionary that has you covered. Got a word that’s not in it? Shoot us a message on Instagram and we’ll add it for you!

Ace (asexual)
People who identify as asexual generally don’t experience a lot of sexual attraction to others. However, please note asexuality is a spectrum. Many demisexuals identify as asexual, although they can experience high levels of sexual attraction. The common denominator is that sexuality isn’t driven on a physical level.
Closed Polyamory

This is a polyamorous relationship where the group agrees not to add new partners. The group may be a V, a triad, a quad, or any other type of polycule.


A partner that is only part of your life very occasionally (like once every several months), for instance because you live far apart.


Feeling happy when you see your partner with with another partner. Although compersion can feel amazing for everyone involved, not feeling compersion doesn’t make you a bad partner or bad at open relationships.

Don't Ask Don't Tell (DADT)

This is a type of agreement in open relationships, where although both/all partners consent to the relationship style, they don’t want to know about the specifics unless they ask about it. DADT is less common in polyamory, and more common in open relationships that are sexuality-oriented.


In the context of polyamory and open relationships, de-escalating means you transition an existing relationship towards less commitment. For example, you might want to transition from a romantic to a platonic relationship, lower the amount of time you spend together, of get separate living spaces. The goal is to adjust the relationship to changing needs and circumstances. De-escalating is generally done with mutual consent and communication and in this way is different from a break-up.


Folks who are demisexual feel sexual attraction based on a personality connection – they don’t feel sexually attracted to someone just based on that person’s physical appearance. Many people agree demisexuality falls under the ace spectrum, even though demisexual people can feel lots of sexual attraction.


An intimate relationship between any two people in a polycule.

Established Relationship Energy (ERE)

The comfortable love you feel towards long-term partners, often linked to stability and knowing each other well.

Ethical Non-Monogamy/ENM (Consensual Non-Monogamy/CNM)

An umbrella of relationship styles where people have multiple consensual intimate relationships. This may include polyamory, as well as swinging and other types of open relationships.


The decision to exchange bodily fluids, usually referring to barrier-free sex.

Garden Party Polyamory

A type of polyamory where metamours know each other, but generally only see each other at events, such as birthdays.

Hierarchy (in polyamory)

A structure where some relationships/partners have more power than other relationships/partners, sometimes including veto power.


In the context of open relationships, a hinge is a person who has multiple relationships. The role of a hinge is to manage the two separate relationships, which can involve a lot of communications and boundary setting.

Kitchen Table Polyamory

A style where all partners and metamours are comfortable interacting socially.

Meta (Metamour)

Commonly used in polyamory to refer to your partner’s other partner.


A mostly monogamous relationship that allows for some openness.


A dyad where one of the partners practices polyamory and the other partner practices monogamy by choice.

New Relationship Energy (NRE)

The excitement of being in a new relationship, often taking up a large part of your attention and focus (comparable to the early feelings of being in love in monogamous relationships).

Nesting Partner

A partner with whom you share a living space. A nesting partner might be a primary partner, but this isn’t always the case.


A structure of multiple interconnected relationships, where all partners can exercise equal autonomy over their own relationships independent of their metamours.

One-penis-policy (OPP)

A rule (sometimes requested by penis-owners in a heterosexual relationship) where the man gets to date multiple people with vaginas, while his partner or partners aren’t allowed to date people with a penis. This rule is generally frowned upon for several reasons, one being the different standards for different parties involved and another the homophobic nature of this rule.

Open Relationship

A relationship where partners agree that they can have romantic and/or sexual relationships with other people.

Opening up

The process of transitioning an exclusive relationship to an open relationship.

Parallel polyamory

A style of polyamory where metamours don’t interact.


A type of open relationships that’s focused on having multiple romantic rather than (only) sexual connections.


A group of interconnected polyamorous/open relationships.


A form of polyamory where all members are exclusive with each other and do not date outside the group.


Not to be confused with polyamory, polygamy is a practice in some patriarchal cultures where one man is allowed to wed multiple women (who are generally not allowed to be with multiple men).


In polyamory, feeling maxed out at your current amount of relationships (for instance for emotional or logistical reasons)

Primary Partner

A person that has more power than/is prioritized above their metamour(s) (secondary partners) in a polyamorous relationship.


A relationship structure involving four people, often where each person has a relationship with at least two others.

Queerplatonic partners

A queerplatonic relationship is a relationship that’s not romantic or sexual, but that has the commitment / intimacy levels we often expect in our romantic relationships. There is often a stronger entanglement than what’s usual for a friendship. If the people involved in the queerplatonic relationship also have romantic relationships with other people, the queerplatonic relationship may be of an equal priority and commitment level.

Relationship Anarchy

A relationship style where romantic and/or sexual relationships are not prioritized above other types of relationships and each relationship develops organically based on the needs of those involved.

Relationship Escalator

The idea that relationships have to follow a certain trajectory (dating – coliving – marriage – kids) based on common society ideals.

Secondary Partner

A person who has less power than their metamour (the primary partner) in a polyamorous relationship.

Solo Polyamory

A non-hierarchical way of practicing polyamory where the person tries to minimize the level of practical/legal entanglements (like living together or shared finances) with partners.


Usually used to refer to couples who sexually engage with other couples.

Tertiary Partner

A partner with whom the relationship is more casual.


A relationship involving three people who are all in an intimate relationship together. The difference with a V relationship is that all people are romantically and/or sexually connected.


A single person (often a bisexual cis-woman) willing to join an existing (often previously monogamous, heterosexual) couple in a romantic or sexual relationship (than then becomes a triad).

Unicorn Hunting

A (usually heterosexual) couple searching for a third person (usually bisexual woman), the unicorn, who will be romantically/sexually involved with both people.

Vee (V)

A relationship structure where one person is romantically/sexually involved with two others who are not in a romantic/sexual relationship with each other. The person having the two relationships is called a hinge. The hinge’s two partners become each other’s metamours.

Veto (power)

A type of rule/agreement in a dyad where a person gets to veto their partner’s other/new partners, always indicating hierarchy.

Want to boost the communication in your polyamorous relationship? Check out our polyamory conversation cards!