Not entirely monogamous or polyamorous? You might be ambiamorous

Not entirely monogamous or polyamorous? You might be ambiamorous
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Monogamy and polyamory are often described as opposites. The former refers to two individuals committing to one another exclusively, while the latter involves multiple partners engaging with each other simultaneously.

Some also see these as a binary system and that there is nothing in between. But emerging research suggests that there is a middle ground between the two and that relationship orientations do come in a spectrum.

Let’s talk about ambiamory, its meaning, the reasons someone may identify as ambiamorous, and more.

Related: How does ethical non-monogamy work? All your questions answered


Ambiamorous Definition: What Does It Mean?

Ambiamorous comes from a combination of the Latin prefix “ambi,” which means both, and “amorous,” which comes from “amor” or love. Put them together, and you’ll get “ambiamorous,” which is “both love.”

This term describes those who are comfortable with both monogamy and polyamory. These people are fully capable of forming long-term, committed relationships with either one or more than one person and value different kinds of partnerships. In general, ambiamorous individuals have little preference between either relationship orientation.

Most people describe being ambiamorous as enjoying relationships in different contexts. Ambiamory can include romantic attraction, sexual desires, platonic feelings, and all other aspects relating to monogamy and polyamory.


Why Would Someone Identify As Ambiamorous?

Ambiamorous people reject the notion that relationships have to be a particular structure to be valuable or genuine. Another relationship style that challenges the so-called norm is relationship anarchy, where relationships don’t have rules that the individuals involved did not mutually and explicitly agree on.

Why would someone identify as being ambiamorous? In general, a person may do so because they are open to both monogamous and polyamorous relationships.

Here are a few specific situations where one might identify as being ambiamorous:

  • They are currently in a monogamous or polyamorous relationship and don’t want the other side of their identity to get lost. They want to remind others that their current relationship structure is not equal to their relationship orientation, just like how bisexual people in “straight-passing” relationships are still bisexual.
  • They want to acknowledge that their past relationships are a valid part of their identity. For example, someone who has had polyamorous relationships before and is now in a monogamous relationship may identify as ambiamorous to explain that their past polyamorous experiences were genuine connections – not mistakes or mere curious adventures.
  • They want to be part of both monogamous and polyamorous communities while emphasizing that they are not fully one or the other. They want others to know that they don’t bind themselves to either structure or believe that only one of them is “the only way to go.”

There may be other reasons why multiple people will identify as being ambiamorous. The bottom line is that they are disclosing that they are comfortable with polyamorous setups without closing themselves off to the possibility of being in an exclusive, monogamous relationship.


Why Would Someone Ambiamorous Practice Monogamy?

We can’t speak for all ambiamorous individuals out there, but there are a few common reasons why someone who is ambiamorous will choose monogamy over polyamory.

Here are a few reasons why someone ambiamorous will commit to a single partner:

  • They are with someone who prefers a monogamous partnership. While the ambiamorous individual may enjoy being part of a polyamorous system, they may stick to one partner if that’s what their partner wants. This may be a big sacrifice if they highly prefer polyamory, but others won’t see this as a big deal.
  • They don’t have the time, energy, and emotional bandwidth to keep up with multiple partners. They may be grieving over a lost loved one, going through financial challenges, or other similar situations. Ambiamorous individuals may become functionally monogamous for a long time if they don’t have the physical, mental, or emotional capability to handle multiple partners.
  • They can’t find other polyamorous people in their area. This may be because the individual lives in a rural area or strictly religious/conservative community or is highly selective of their partners. There may be nobody in the vicinity compatible with the ambiamorous person.

Since being ambiamorous means that they can enjoy monogamy and polyamory, it’s not too usual to meet someone ambiamorous who decides to have only one partner. They may also be tired of the stigma of polyamorous relationships and have consciously chosen to live a more ordinary life.


Why Would Someone Ambiamorous Practice Polyamory?

On the flip side of the coin, why would someone ambiamorous choose to have other partners? An ambiamorous person may decide to enter a polyamorous relationship system for the following reasons:

  • They want to be with someone who has existing polyamorous relationships. Dating someone polyamorous will undoubtedly be difficult for someone who’s strictly monogamous, but it’s quite common and comfortable for those who are ambiamorous.
  • They found multiple people they connect with on a deeper level and fit into their life harmoniously. Usually, these prospective partners are also ambiamorous or polyamorous.
  • They allow their partners to have the freedom to date other people, even if it means that they may see each other less frequently or that they may be functionally monogamous from time to time. In this case, they are still part of a polyamorous system.
  • They enjoy a close network of support and friendship that comes with having multiple partners. Such a relationship system will often function as a chosen family, strengthening the value and feelings that one will receive in a polyamorous system.



How Do You Know If You’re Ambiamorous?

If you’re equally happy in both monogamous and polyamorous, then you might be ambiamorous. You may also be ambiamorous if you have no preference for either one of the relationship systems.

But if you’re having a hard time pinpointing where you land on the relationship orientation spectrum, here are a few questions to help you narrow it down:

  • Do you want to explore other relationship styles beyond what you’ve been used to?
  • Do you find it just as easy to commit to one person as it is to commit to more than one?
  • Do you feel like both monogamy and polyamory describe the kind of relationships you want in life?
  • Do you have needs that can be met by both a monogamous and polyamorous relationship?

If you answered “yes” to any one of these questions, you might be ambiamorous. But remember that these questions are only meant to guide you, as the true answer will ultimately have to come from you. You’re the only person who knows your feelings and what you want in romantic relationships.


Monogamous + Polyamorous = Ambiamorous

While the awareness for ambiamorous is still relatively low, research has shown that it’s fairly common, with many people out there saying that they aren’t confined to either monogamy or polyamory. Instead, their ideal relationship system can be either of these or somewhere in between.

Instead of restricting our perspective to a binary system of monogamy and polyamory, it’s important to realize that relationship orientations come in a spectrum, with many people landing somewhere in between.

Related: Polyamorous relationships granted legal rights in Massachusetts

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