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A variant of the Love Triangle and Love Dodecahedron.

Rather than requiring someone to pick one person out of several potential love interests, or have a Your Cheating Heart situation, all parties involved agree to be together and share cooperatively. This typically lacks any drama of the decision itself, but has a different form of drama in how people make arrangements with each other, manage jealousy and households, and deal with the disapproval of society as a whole.

Individuals who identify as polyamorous are likely to consider themselves "Ethical Sluts". However, far from all ethical sluts are polyamorous, and far from all people in polyamorous relationships have the "ethical slut" attitude. The difference between a polyamorist and a swinger is that the former seeks out full-spectrum relationships with each of his or her partners. The latter is largely there for the sex, often for the novelty of an unfamiliar (or unconquered) partner.

Polyamorous relationship structures can take many forms, of which the Love Dodecahedron is one. The most common one in the real world is an Open Committed Relationship in which a couple act as primary partners to each other, but have agreed to love and cherish other people as partners as well. Unlike swingers, though, relationships with secondary partners will go beyond mere sex or intimacy, to include broad-spectrum involvement in their lives.

Depending on the genre, this Trope can turn a Battle Couple into a Battle Trio. Compare Marry Them All. Contrast No Romantic Resolution. One True Threesomes, when they become canon, are a specific case. For more details and some Real Life tidbits, see For the Love of Many, this wiki's collection of Useful Notes on Polyamory.

Not to be confused with Polyarmory.

Examples of Polyamory include:

Anime and Manga

  • Done with after the credits in Kanokon‍'‍s Gecko Ending -- Chizuru wins, and Nozomu is Put on a Bus... But wait, she returns after the credits and they decide to share Kouta. Which kinda sucks for him, as both of them are extremely oversexed yōkai (Japanese demons), and he's mostly Asexual. Of course, he doesn't get a say in the matter.
  • Cross Marian of D.Gray-Man may apply. It's a Shounen, so don't seen his love life in depth. But some things here and there could point to him fitting this trope. Anita, one of his lovers, seems to love him deeply and died looking for him. Cross later praises her as a good woman, despite the fact she was a prostitute. We also learn from Anita that her mother loved Cross and had a relationship with him as well. In an extra in JUMP SQ, Allen says he was looking for valuable things in Cross' room at Mother's. He says, under the bed, he found things Cross had gotten from his lovers-seems to show that Cross hangs on to things from previous relationships. Also, when we see him in his room in chapter 168, we can see numerous pictures on his shelves, possibly of / from his lovers. His character info in the official fanbook states he likes "good women." Thus, he likes fellow general, Klaud Nyne, whom he states is always a nice woman, despite the fact she isn't nice to him and doesn't seem crazy about him.
  • A proposed solution in Girl X Girl X Boy although it gets rejected in the end.
  • Her Royal Majesty Iono from Iono the Fanatics somehow manages to be in a romantic relationship with an entire kingdom worth of Schoolgirl Lesbians. And satisfy them all. Unless, of course, she is traveling abroad, in which case her paramours start a civil war, with one fraction believing in her eventual return and the other striving to bring her back by force.
  • The last chapter of To LOVE-Ru hints that this might be a viable option for Rito; at the very least, Lala is enthusiastic about to the point that it seems to be her preferred option. In the sequel, To Love Ru Darkness, one of the girls tries to open up this route (Lala approves), and is only hindered by Rito's belief in monogamy.
  • In Mahou Sensei Negima, it turns out that Nodoka views this as an acceptable solution to the love triangle between herself, Yue, and Negi. It even shows up in her ideal world.
  • Averted in Rosario + Vampire, where the entire Harem wants this situation... except for the first girl, who doesn't want to share (though said girl is two for the price of one and might count just by herself). The boy hasn't made his views known, probably out of fear.
  • Jin and Rumi Koishikawa, and Youji and Chiyako Matsura (later Jin and Chiyako Koishikawa, and Youji and Rumi Matsura) seem to hint at this. Swapping spouses is one thing; all moving into the same house together and spending all their free time together.... awfully suggestive.
  • Ayumu of Hayate the Combat Butler seems to suggest this style of solution, but it seems that she's doing it more out of caring for Hinagiku's worry about being defiled for marriage than for any sexual implications (and at the point it's suggested, Hinagiku doesn't think Ayumu knows about their mutual crush on Hayate).
  • Tenchi Muyo!: Seina slips into this trope at the end via a Marry Them All resolution, though it still has the feel of the former, and in fact, Word of God says Tenchi himself also fits this trope. In both cases, it helps that they're in line for the throne of Jurai (Tenchi being the Crown Prince), a position that, as far as we can see, traditionally comes with multiple wives (the current one has two). It also helps that the Jurian equivalent of the Queen Mother fancies herself a matchmaker, is a master of The Plan, and seems to prefer this outcome.
  • Rokujo Chikage, Durarara!!'s resident Ethical Slut and Chivalrous Pervert, is happy to be with any girl that doesn't mind sharing. The series introduces him dating eight girls at once.

Girlfriend 1: Why are we dating such a playboy again?
Girlfriend 2: Because it's one of our weird hobbies.


Comic Books

  • Elf Quest. Many of the elves end up 'lifemating' with two others, and their relationships are generally loving and long-lasting (and in at least three cases, explicitly mentioned as a sane alternative to jealousy and rivalry). Problems tend to arise only with Recognition, a form of love based entirely on involuntary instinct.
  • In Strangers in Paradise After David reveals to Casey and Katchoo that he is dying, they decide to live together to take care of him for what he has left for a life, and it's Casey's idea for Katchoo and David to try to conceive a baby that both girls will raise together.
  • A DC Elseworlds story, "Superman/WonderWoman: Whom Gods Destroy" (nothing to do with this one), written by Chris Claremont, is set in a world where Superman made his first public appearance in the 1930s, when he met Lois Lane. Cut to the present day, where Lois Lane and Lana Lang are in their seventies and are very close friends. Despite Superman's presence during WWII, the Nazis are still in power in Germany, due in part to the interference of Ares and several other Greek Gods. Another faction of Greek Gods, led by Artemis and Athena, grant Lois and Lana eternal youth and power (Lana becomes the Oracle of Delphi and Lois becomes Wonder Woman), and they team with Superman to defeat Ares' faction. Part of Ares' plan is to separate Clark from Lois and Lana, since their powers somehow bind them together. When Lana explains to Superman, "Ares doesn't want the two of you together," (referring to Clark and Lois), Hecate, the Greek witch-goddess, corrects her, "No, the three of you." By the end of the four-issue arc, Clark, Lois and Lana are happily living together in his Fortress of Solitude (the now young Lois changed her name to Lois Lang) in a polyamorous relationship.
  • At the very end of Superman: Red Son (an Elseworld), when Lex Luthor uses his genius to turn Earth into a utopia, it's said that the "triple" replaces the "couple" in human relationships.
  • In the last issue of the Secret Six ongoing, Scandal Savage decides she can't choose between her girlfriends and proposes to both of them at once.

Fan Works

  • Axis Powers Hetalia fanfic Gankona, Unnachgiebig, Unità: Germany, Italy, and Japan ended up in a polyamorous relationship after Germany and Japan agreed to share Italy at Italy's request.
  • Poly seems to be a normal state of affairs in the universe of On a Clear Day You Can See Forever; that doesn't stop there from being issues of jealousy and insecurity, however. Mamoru is not terribly happy about Usagi's affections for her senshi, especially Rei, but he also knows that he has no right to deny them. For poor Ranma, from another world entirely, the concept of sharing is even harder to deal with.
  • The Epilogue of I Am What I Am has this, but with a twist. Xander (who has the memories of his entire life up to his death which he has been using to alter and improve things) is now with Buffy AND Faith and it's heavily implied that all three are sharing the other two (no sex yet, though).
  • In Kyon: Big Damn Hero, Kyon's uncle Keiichi arranges this with his aunts. Also, Haruhi is working towards this with Kyon and all females of SOS Brigade.
  • Too many examples of Harry Potter fanfics to count have the characters in polyamorous relationships, usually in the form of Harry getting a harem of girls. It's not uncommon for the girls to all be bisexual either.
  • In Time Braid, Sakura, Hinata and Naruto eventually get to the point where all three are romantically involved, though Sakura does state that it takes effort to make their relationship work.
  • Extremely common in the Glee fanfic-community. Especially used in Faberritana relationships (that include Quinn, Rachel, Brittany and Santana).
  • Here in My Arms in the Rosario + Vampire fandom goes this way for the full set of "haremettes".


  • Bandits has both the main characters falling for their hostage turned ally. When she is pressed to chose she deliberately choses "not to chose," and is last seen happily with both of them in Mexico.
  • Les Chansons d'Amour: Julie and Ismaël resolve Ismaël's attraction to his coworker Alice by forming a ménage à trois which doesn't survive the first act: when Julie dies, Alice and Ismaël go their separate ways.
  • Jules et Jim focuses on a three-way pairing, with an eye to determining whether it can possibly last. In and of itself, polyamory is deemed acceptable, but "pioneers must be humble and unselfish," and jealousy results in a murder-suicide.
  • In Vicky Cristina Barcelona, Juan's ex-girlfriend shows up after Cristina is already living with him. Things go from awkward, to tense, to sexy, back to tense, to falling apart entirely.
  • Another one from Woody Allen. When Melodie's disapproving mother Marietta shows up in Whatever Works, she goes on to date two men that agree to share her.
  • A woman and two men try this in Paint Your Wagon. It sort of works for a while; one of the men eventually departs, not so much because of the triangle, but that the area's becoming too civilized for his taste.
  • In the film adaptation of the Scott Pilgrim comics, Wallace Wells, Scott's gay roomate sleeps with Stacey Pilgrim's boyfriend Jimmy and another nameless guy later on. His boyfriend, 'Other Scott' does not seem to mind as at one point they're all seen sleeping in the same bed together, as well as Scott.


  • Robert A. Heinlein's works feature this heavily, especially as he got farther into his career, which gives it strong overtones of Author Appeal even though he never commented on whether or not he and his wife Virginia were exclusive. Most of the works in question advance the concept that a truly free individual should not be restricted by cultural taboos in choosing whom or how many to love.
    • The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress features protypical matriarchal group marriages - that is, the woman is the dominant partner and has full discretion as to whom or how many men she marries.
    • Stranger in A Strange Land has Mike, a human with Martian values, form an entire quasi-cult around the notion of Free Love. Said novel was widely influential in the counterculture of the American 1960s and arguably predicted it.
    • Friday starts with the titular protagonist in a group marriage in New Zealand, although they divorce her after she exposes their racist hypocrisy. She later joins a much healthier group marriage.
    • Time Enough for Love and all subsequent novels in his "Future History" series feature Lazarus Long's increasingly extended family, designed as a group marriage in which individuals are free to come and go as they please but all are mutually responsible for the maintenance of the household and care of the children. The only restriction on who sleeps with whom is genetic compatibility, and not even then if there is no risk of pregnancy.
    • In The Number of the Beast and The Cat Who Walks Through Walls, the protagonists of those novels all eventually fall into Lazarus' polyamory through various circumstances including Time Travel and dimension hopping.
  • Anita Blake eventually takes this option with her entire Unwanted Harem.
    • Also in her Merry Gentry series.
  • Mendoza, Edward, Alec and Nicholas in The Company Novels.
  • Most of the main cast of Diane Duane's Door Into... series. Including the dragon. And the FIRE ELEMENTAL.
  • Gail Dayton's One Rose Trilogy takes place in a realm where group marriage is the norm.
  • In Realm of the Elderlings, Fool told Fitz that he had two fathers and one mother, which was quite common in his land.
  • Polyamory (in the sense of a priestess having both a human consort and a vampyre mate) has been suggested as a solution to Zoey's Unwanted Harem in The House of Night.
  • The main character Rand al'Thor from the Wheel of Time series, falls in love with three women, who in turn all fall in love with him. Leads to a fair bit of angst until the women decide to share, and put it to Rand as a fait accompli. Slightly averted, as one of the women grew up in a culture where this is common unheard of; however, her culture does accept the (still rare) arrangement whereby a man can marry two women who are de facto married to each other as well.
  • The hero of With a Single Spell by Lawrence Watt-Evans falls in love and gets married during his quest to win a princess. The king is still insistent about reducing the headcount at his castle, and his wife is very practical.
  • Lizzie ends up with both Beardsley twins in the Outlander series.
  • In Warren Ellis' Crooked Little Vein, the main love interest is a polyamorist, much to the protagonist's dismay. Originally, at least.
  • Some of Octavia Butler's novels involve people ending up in this sort of situation, usually because of Bizarre Alien Biology—which the humans may struggle against before finally giving in. In the series Lilith's Brood a family may involve a human male, a human female, an Oankali male, an Oankali female, and an ooloi. In Fledgling, each vampire keeps a small collection of humans as a family (and a food source).
  • In Wen Spencer's A Brother's Price, a plague has left the world seriously gender-skewed, with 5-10 girls born for every boy. The solution for this is for boys to marry all sisters in a family. The hero, of course, goes on on to marry all of the princesses of the realm.
  • In Isabel Allende's Eva Luna, male lead Rolf Carlé gets into a relationship like this with two girls that not only are both his lovers, but his cousins as well. It lasts some years, until Rolf leaves the "colony" they live in and goes to the city; there's no ultra dramatic break-up, and the cousins are later Happily Married to local males whereas Rolf becomes an Intrepid Reporter and gets involved with Eva, the female lead.
  • In Honor Harrington, Honor becomes romantically entangled with her former boss, Hamish Alexander, the Earl of White Haven. This is the cause of much personal angst for the both of them, because he is married to and still in love with his quadriplegic wife and they don't want to commit adultery. They also want to avoid the media circus and political maelstrom that would entail. Eventually, Emily figures out that they love each other on her own, before they act on anything, and suggests that Honor marry them both. Problem solved—it's good to be in the future.
    • More to the point, it's good that Honor has de facto dual citizenship with Grayson, where polygamy is part of the culture.
  • In the Wicked Lovely series, Leslie, Niall and Irial are all totally cool with their threeway -but not threesome- relationship.
    • To a lesser extent, Ani and Rae seem fine with sharing Devlin as well.
  • In The Sharing Knife, polyamory is rare, not surprising given the pre-Industrial setting. However, it's not unheard of among the Lakewalkers. When one of the Otter women realizes her husband is sterile, she is urged to divorce him and take another who can give her children. Out of love for him, she refuses. Instead, she chooses a second husband, and all three of them marry each other. Among the Lakewalkers, marriages are proven by magical wedding bracelets. As each of the threesome has two bracelets proving that they are simultaneously married to two different people, there is nothing anyone else can do. The clan eventually gives up trying to break up the threeway marriage, and the children are considered the offspring of all three parents.
  • This seems to be pretty common practice in Kushiel's Legacy wherein many people have multiple sexual partners with whom they are in love.
  • Older Than Print: In the eighth story of the eighth day of Boccaccio's Decameron, "Two men keep with one another: the one lies with the other's wife: the other, being ware thereof, manages with the aid of his wife to have the one locked in a chest, upon which he then lies with the wife of him that is locked therein." At the end, they call it even and, decide, along with their wives, to live so that "each of the ladies had two husbands, and each of the husbands two wives."
  • Bizarre Alien Biology makes this common practice among the Titanides in John Varley's Gaea Trilogy. It's common for their reproductive process to involve three or four individuals' genetic contributions, although one female can self-impregnate.
  • In Jennifer Crusie's Crazy For You, the female protagonist's mother is involved with a best friend as well as a husband.
  • In Sewer, Gas & Electric, the eco-pirate Dufresne is in a polyamorous relationship with an online journalist and her male-model second boyfriend, complete with threesomes. The model is bisexual and has no problem with this, but Dufresne's own lingering insecurities from an Amish upbringing compel him to wrestle his co-husband into submission each time they meet, offsetting his doubts about his own masculinity.
  • This is the resolution to the love triangle between Eric, Beth, and Korendil in Mercedes Lackey's Urban Fantasy A Knight of Ghosts and Shadows. The relationship continues happily throughout the next book, but Eric breaks up with them amicably between books two and three.
  • In Nnedi Okorafor's The Shadow Speaker, Sarauniya Jaa has two husbands.
  • In the sci-fi Uplift series, some alien species [require more than two individuals all mating together in order to reproduce. Among the species with this variety of Bizarre Alien Biology are the Gubru (require one female, one blue male, and one yellow male) and the Brma (require an alpha female, a beta female, an alpha male, and a beta male).
  • Vonda McIntyre seems to like this: In the Starfarers series, there's at least one married triad; in Dreamsnake, it's monogamous characters like Arevin who stand out.

Live-Action TV

  • Star Trek:
    • In the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Data's Day", it is revealed that Andorians as a species have four genders, two of which are considered male and two female. Four-person marriages (consisting of all four genders) is the norm of their species. Supposedly, this was originally done to curb their low birthrate. Seeing as some female Andorians are somewhat attractive, it's likely caused a lot of Fetish Fanfic Fuel.[1]
    • Dr. Phlox of Star Trek: Enterprise comes from a poly civilization. He has three wives, each of whom has three husbands. Each of them has a different set of husbands who themselves has three wives each. In a way you can say that all the Denobulan are part of one giant marriage group. There's also indication that three ISN'T the limit, since Feezal, who already had three husbands, attempted to seduce Trip.
    • At least one Star Trek novel has indicated that group marriage is legal on Earth, at least two of which were written by Vonda McIntyre.
  • Big Love, being based around Fundamentalist Mormon Polygyny is both an example and a counterexample to this trope, especially since it's depicted that women are often wed as young teens, ergo matches are made outside of the realm of informed adult consent. However, the family of the main characters did come together as consenting adults.
    • Nope. Margene revealed in season 5 that she was only 16 when she married Bill. The age of consent in Utah is 18.
  • Clarice on Caprica is married to multiple men and women, who are all married to each other. This is implied to be unusual but perfectly legal.
  • Londo Mollari on Babylon 5 has three wives and a mistress, but it's kind of an aversion since he would gladly toss the polyamory and his three wives out the window, and marry just the mistress he truly loves (his marriages were political in nature).


  • "My Girlfriend's Girlfriend" by Type O Negative
  • The Patrick Fiori song "4 mots sur un piano"—it's the prettiest song about a triad you'll ever hear.
  • "I just can't see you and me and her without each other..."
  • Ben Lee has the song "Apple Candy", where the (male) POV desires a three-person relationship.

I know you made a promise
and told him he's your lover
make me feel the same
...I want you and I want him.


Video Games

  • You can suggest this as a solution to a Love Triangle in Dragon Age and Mass Effect, but in both cases the more prudish Love Interest rejects the idea and breaks off the relationship.
    • Although a different BioWare Game, Jade Empire, allows you to do this if you keep insisting to Dawn Star and Silk Fox that you can't choose just one of them. Humorously enough, you later find out that they're cousins.
    • In yet a third BioWare game, male player characters in Neverwinter Nights: Hordes of the Underdark can suggest that Aribeth and Nathyrra share him. Unlike the Dragon Age/Mass Effect example, it actually works.
  • One of the (very hard to get) endings in School Days has Sekai and Kotonoha do this to the protagonist Itou Makoto.
  • Angel Starr references having multiple boyfriends in Ace Attorney, even telling the judge that there's a slot open for him.
  • You can do this in The Sims, but it makes households larger and more difficult to manage...not to mention that Sim A's partner doesn't see the other relationships as "polyamory" so much as "cheating."
  • The comic book adaptation of Mortal Kombat claims Goro has seven wives. Many fans assume Sheeva was one of them, but that has never been confirmed.

Web Comics

  • The ending of Fans, Rikk, Alisin and Rumy become a couple triple.
    • Not the ending: more impressively, this arc has continued with the marriage surviving some storms to the point where thanks to alien medtech Alisin is currently carrying a baby Rumy and Rikk conceived.
  • Angela of Punch an Pie believes in polyamory, but isn't successful in practicing it.
  • Evidently a fairly common situation in the absurdly complex social circles at the university in Questionable Content.
  • Sirkka in Freak Angels, who lives with a harem.
  • Arthur, Guenevere and Lancelot from Arthur, King of Time and Space have something like this in the Space Arc, and a reference to the Fans example above hints to be going there in the Modern Arc as well.
  • The short-lived webcomic Jake the Rake.
  • Mentioned in Queen of Wands.
  • Shown rather nicely in the Niels/Duncan/Natalie three-way in Humon's Niels.
  • Maxine in Leftover Soup is part of a five-way.
  • Girl Genius: Castle Heterodyne seems to prefer this as the ultimate solution for the Love Triangle between Agatha, Gil, and Tarvek. Comments by the Castle indicate that this was likely a common practice for previous Heterodynes. The Ho Yay/Foe Yay between Gil and Tarvek doesn't really do much to rule out such a solution.
    • Many real life fans seem to prefer this as well, if comments and fan-fiction are anything to go on.

Web Original

  • Family, an Internet television show, features a polyamorous triad (V formation).
  • Mackenzie in Tales of MU falls into this situation pretty quickly.
  • Metamor City has the Psi Collective members live in families/cells, with (preferably) one male and several females. This is because they believe that a war with the "mundies" (unpowered humans) is inevitable and that they'll need to prepare by breeding as many psychics as possible, but there aren't many powerful males. At the end of Making the Cut they even considered Gender Flipping "surplus" males.
  • Bladedancer, Gateway, and Chain Lightning have this in the Whateley Universe.
  • Very common in Chakona Space, the titular Chakats having a certain saying, "love doesn't divide, it multiplies."
    • In addition, Foxtaurs are polygynous due to a 3:1 ratio of vixens to todds and todds are "obligated" to make themselves available once every five years.
      • Caitians (aliens based on lions) are even worse, with an 8:1 ratio.
    • Stellar Foxtaurs, having been designed with the best traits of Chakats and Foxtaurs, tend to have similar views towards casual sex. Though mating habits vary with some breeds, Polars don't form permanent relationships while Deserts tend towards triads, and Starwalkers mate as a large group but carefully control breeding.

Western Animation

  • In the Futurama movie The Beast With A Billion Backs, Fry briefly dates a girl named Colleen who is living with her four other boyfriends.
    • And of course, the main plot is centered around Yivo, a massive, hermaphroditous alien who starts a relationship with every organic being in the universe.
    • After eating a flag of Earth, Zoidberg's attorney against flag desecration is a bisexual polygamist.
  1. Okay, it works like this: The two female genders are called shen and zhen, the male genders are called thaan and chan. The ova is produced by the shen, which then must receive sperm from both the thaan and chan to conceive a child, which is then carried to term by the zhen. With such a complex biology, it's really no wonder they had problems with low birthrate.