Confusion arises when polyamory is misapplied in a broader sense, as an umbrella term for various forms of consensual non-monogamous, multi-partner relationships (including polyamory), or consensual non-exclusive sexual or romantic relationships.
In 1999, Zell-Ravenheart was asked by the editor of the OED to provide a definition of the term, and had provided it as The practice, state or ability of having more than one sexual loving relationship at the same time, with the full knowledge and consent of all partners involved.
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The practice of engaging in closed polyamorous relationships is sometimes called to indicate a hierarchy of different relationships or the place of each relationship in a person's life.
Thus, a person may refer to a live-in partner as their primary partner, and a lover whom they only see once a week as their secondary partner, in order to differentiate to the listener who is whom.
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While such labels can be used as a tool to manage multiple relationships to as an intimate network, includes relationships that are of varying significance to the people involved, but are not explicitly labeled as "primary" or "secondary".
Within this model, a hierarchy may be fluid and vague, or nonexistent.
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"Open relationships are not nearly as socially accepted as they were in the 1960s and 1970s, at the peak of the sexual revolution.
But they do work for some couples, provided there's a tremendous amount of trust and commitment."Rather than requiring someone to pick one person out of several potential love interests, or have a Your Cheating Heart situation, all parties involved agree to be together and share cooperatively.
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