Poly and Power Exchange

Posted On March 3, 2020

Polyamory is a relationship style that includes multiple loving relationships. It can take many forms, but overall, that is polyamory in a nutshell.

Power Exchange is a relationship style that is designed to have a hierarchal leader/follower structure. There is a person who is in charge; anyone else recognizes that the other person is in charge. Like polyamory, there are many styles of power exchange and they go by many different names – Dom/sub*, Master (or Mistress or Ma’am)/slave, Queen/knight, Owner/property, Leader/follower, and others. If you are unfamiliar with power exchange, the first thing to share is these are consensual relationships. You may want to do some exploration before jumping to the conclusion that they are unhealthy or abusive. I can personally introduce you to dozens of long-term (and joyful) PE relationships. For actual reflections of how it is done day to day by real people, we recommend our book Living M/s.

You might be wondering if you can practice both polyamory and power exchange. Well, the answer is yes. As a matter of fact, if you go to a kink-based event, you’ll see many people practicing it.

Here are some specific thoughts, tips, and call outs about this sort of relationship combination.

First off, as you explore the polyamory part, expect some pushback from non-power exchange polyamory followers. Some aspects of power exchange, such as rule-based relationship, one person getting final say (including veto power), and at times, one person can have additional partners but the other can’t,  might be part of a negotiated power exchange. And those items are often considered poor relationship ideas by those that practice non-hierarchial polyamory. That viewpoint is what it is. These aspects actually might be fine and functional in Power Exchange + Polyamory relationships. Sometimes it is exactly what all parties want. Power Exchange relationships (when they are done ethically) are done with a lot of negotiations before any power is exchanged.

Next, if you are looking for PE & Poly friendly events, pay attention to the kink & Leather communities. Although you might not be kinky, you’ll find they often include polyamory tracks. There is a lot of crossover.

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The Polyamory Toolkit

 A book that focuses on specific tools people can use to address the common issues and deeper aspects of a polyamorous relationship. This work includes topics such as: Jealousy, Compersion – finding joy in your partners’ joy, Communication, Mitigating Triggers, Creating a Solid Foundation, and so much more.

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