Non-hierarchical Polyamory

Updated: APRIL 18, 2022
Reviewed by Kinkly Staff
on April 17, 2022

Non-hierarchical polyamory is the practice of having multiple relationships with people who are not ranked in order of importance. In other words, all partners are implicitly labeled as primary. As people who practice non-hierarchical polyamory do not think any person they are having one intimate relationship with is more important than another, they do not allow any intimate relationship they have to limit another intimate relationship.

Non-hierarchical polyamory should not be confused with relationship anarchy. People who practice relationship anarchy reject hierarchies for all social relationships – intimate and platonic – not just intimate relationships.

More About Non-hierarchical Polyamory

Non-hierarchical polyamory has been enjoying a bit of a moment in the 2020s, having gained serious traction on TikTok.

People that practice non-hierarchical polyamory do not usually have the same rules governing their relationships that people in traditional hierarchical polyamorous relationships do. For example, no partner has the right to veto another partner when practicing non-hierarchical polyamory. That’s because there is no primary relationship that must be satisfied above others. Instead, people who practice non-hierarchical polyamory simply try to keep themselves and the people they are involved with happy, often without formal structures or guidelines.

While people practicing non-hierarchical polyamory do not rank their relationships, that does not mean that they conduct their relationships equally. They may spend more time with some intimate partners than others, for example. However, they do this because it feels natural and other parties agree, not because they are duty-bound to do so or because they value one person over another. They may also take the views of a long-term partner under deeper consideration than those of a short-term partner. However, this may be because they have greater intimacy or their lives are more closely intertwined, not because the short-term partner is less important.

While many people who practice non-hierarchical polyamory with do not want to take steps that may put one relationship above another, such as becoming married or moving in with one person, this is not universally true. Some people feel marrying or living with an intimate partner makes sense for them. However, they take care to treat each relationship they have as its own entity, one which is not limited by another. For example, they will not attend an event with their spouse by default if they feel another partner would enjoy the event more. If conflict occurs, a spouse’s argument does not automatically have more sway than a non-spouse’s argument simply because of their status.


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