Mel Cassidy gets two kinds of reactions from people when they realize that they are talking to a polyamorous person.
It’s either they want to change the topic quickly or they want to hear more from Cassidy about how polyamory works.
As opposed to monogamy or the exclusive relationship between two people, polyamory refers to the practice of having more than one intimate relationship.
Cassidy is a relationship coach, and sits on the board of the Canadian Polyamory Advocacy Association (CPAA).
November 23 is Polyamory Day, and the Straight asked Cassidy about the three most common misconceptions about the practice.
Polyamory is the same as cheating
“It’s really not,” Cassidy said in a phone interview.
“You know, the definition of polyamory is that it is non-monogamy that happens with the knowledge and consent of everyone involved. So it is non-monogamy, but everybody knows what’s going on and everybody agrees to what’s going on. And I think that’s a really key difference,” the adherent said.
“Sometimes people will use the word and they’re not actually using it accurately. Like I’ve come across people stating in their profiles where they’re like, ‘I’m polyamorous, but my wife just doesn’t know yet’. And I’m like, that’s not polyamory.”
Polyamory is all about sex
“Polyamory is about multiple loving relationships, and in the polyamourous community, we have a lot of people who identify as asexual or gray sexual or demi sexual. People who are not motivated by sexuality in their relationship,” Cassidy said.
“And for some people it might be about sex, but it’s definitely not about the sex for everybody. I think for people who are practicing polyamory, it’s really about the experience of diversity and loving connection.”
Polyamory requires a primary partner
Not at all.
“This is one of the misconceptions that I came across when I was starting in my journey with polyamory. But polyamory is a thing that individuals do. So what that means is you don’t have to have a primary partner,” Cassidy said.
“There are many people who practice polyamory as a solo individual, meaning they may not live with their parners, they might not be married to any partner, and they date openly, but with the full knowledge and consent of everybody that they are connecting with.”
Cassidy is based in Vancouver Island, and goes by the pronouns “they” and “them”.
“That’s just who I am,” the advocate said about the pronoun choices.
Like many, Cassidy has felt the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The pandemic has definitely affected my relationships, and just made it a lot more challenging,” the relationship coach noted.
“But I look at it as having a landscape of relationships, so I have some partners that are local to me. I have partners that are long-distance that I haven’t been able to see during the pandemic,” Cassidy related.
“And you know, I’ve been in polyamory for over a decade. And I’ve had some really loving relationships that have lasted for multiple years, and I’ve had some relationships that ended but we still are really good friends.”
Want to learn more about polyamory?
The CPAA is holding a two-day online conference this weekend (November 20 and November 21).
Conference presenters are Kim TallBear, a professor with the University of Alberta, and Clementine Morrigan, a podcaster and author.
The event includes a panel discussion with speakers Eva Dusome, CJ Jackson Zigante, and Jenny Yuen.
Details are available on the website of CPAA.