Love is often described as two halves coming together to form a whole. Romantic comedies and love songs tell us that we'll find the person who will make us complete, and then we'll marry him or her, have children and grow old together. But the idea of marrying our soul mate is a relatively new one; for many centuries, people married someone their parents deemed fit, and then they pursued love with others, no questions asked. Some people claim that rising divorce rates and high incidence of infidelity are proof that monogamy, even with someone you truly love, just doesn't work.
So where does that leave us? Could monogamy be a bad system? What if it takes more than one person to make you feel complete? After all, we place rather tall orders with our soul mates -- we expect them to like the same types of movies, be compatible sexually and have the right words to say to us no matter what happens. There are some people who would argue that one person can't fulfill all those needs, and that it's foolish to make one person try. These people practice polyamory, or the practice of having multiple romantic relationships. But they claim they're not cheating or running around; rather, a central tenet of polyamory is garnering your partner's consent to date and fall in love with multiple people.
It can be hard to wrap your head around polyamory, if only because monogamy is set as the default for our society. So first, a few things about what polyamory is not. It's not about sex with a bunch of random people; while polyamorists certainly do have sex with multiple partners, they usually have emotional relationships with them. And it's distinct from polygamy, which we tend to associate with Fundamentalist Mormons who practice plural marriage. In those communities, men marry multiple women, while in polyamory, both genders have the opportunity to explore connections with other people.
So now that we've established a little bit about what's not polyamory, let's take a look at what polyamory actually is. Is it really possible to love more than one person? Don't people get jealous? And if we hardly have time to maintain one good relationship in today's busy world, how do people find time to manage three or four?