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Parallel polyamory describes a relationship style where people have relationships which run in parallel with one another. Person A has a relationship with Person B. Person B has another relationship with Person C. However, just like the points on parallel lines, Person A and Person C do not impact on one another’s relationships. They do not have a romantic, sexual, or platonic relationship with one another. They may never even meet. Parallel polyamory is the opposite of kitchen table polyamory. It is typically regarded the default polyamory model.
Parallel polyamory can seem the easiest form of non-monogamy at first, as there aren’t as many different relationships to manage. However, parallel polyamory can be challenging logistically. When people are involved in relationships, it’s only natural for their social circles and private spaces to interact. It can take some planning to make sure partners do not run into one another at home or on dates, if that’s what each relationship desires.
Some people practicing parallel polyamory don’t mind interacting with their partner’s partners on a casual, surface level. While they aren’t looking to be friends or more with their partner’s partners, they don’t mind running into them.
Parallel polyamory can also cause some jealousy surrounding important holidays and birthdays, as people can’t be with more than one of their partners at once. People may feel resentful if they feel they’re getting less time with their partners than others. It can also be difficult if partners have different preferred relationship models.
Communicating about what each partner feels comfortable with is the best way to ensure your model for polyamory works best for all concerned. Relationships can still run in parallel, yet be close together, although this isn’t always the case. What’s important for parallel polyamory is that the relationships do not impact one another and their trajectory. Everyone should feel comfortable with the relationship set up. All efforts should be made to respect the boundaries of each participant and never make them interact with people they don’t want to. If problems do arise, they should also be communicated about openly and honestly. If anyone wants partner’s partners to become more involved or intertwined, the relationships may transition to a kitchen table polyamory model.
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