How Polyamory is Helping Young Indians Discard Ideas of Finding 'The One'

How the youth is diverging from the idea of monogamy and discovering solace in polyamory and ethical non-monogamy.

6 min read

Bollywood has taught most Indians how to love– right from spontaneous declarations to unrealistic expectations of achievement of a ‘happily ever after’. Therefore, it is hardly surprising that most of what we know about love stems from Bollywood, including the idea of finding “the one”.


Bollywood rides on the do jism ek jaan narrative even today to fuel its overly romanticised version of how relationships are. At the core of this idea is monogamy– that one person is yours and yours only, and vice versa. While real-life monogamous relationships might have a lot more individuality, there is still a very strict boundary when it comes to “sharing” your partner.

The Quint spoke to four young Indians who are changing this narrative and embracing the idea of ethical non-monogamy by practising polyamory. It's a practice that involves engaging with multiple romantic partners, and strongly advocates the idea of open communication and transparency to make the relationship work.

Lavina*, a 24-year-old fashion student from Mumbai talks about how she opened up to the idea of polyamory after feeling restricted by the strict boundaries of monogamy.

How did you come across polyamory?

Lavina: People are very conscious about how they are dating. Either you are deeply involved in a romantic relationship or you are in a casual one where you can't care about them at all. And I always found myself in the middle– I don’t want to commit, but at the same time, I still care about that person.

She is currently discovering polyamory with her partner, Prashant*, whom she met on a dating app. P himself comes to polyamory after negative experiences with monogamy.

Prashant: I was in a strictly monogamous relationship and we were together for about three years, but it didn't work out. That’s when polyamory came along. I tried it and noticed that it worked well for me. I was getting a chance to develop good relationships with people I was genuinely interested in.”

Arjun*, a 24-year-old working as a generalist in a Bengaluru start-up talks about how polyamory provides him with the fluidity he needs.

Arjun: I have a lot of other things to figure out in life such as my career and relationships. What I wanted in college is drastically different from what I want now. I think committing so early before I figure things out would make me sour towards the relationship and create resentment. I've grown up learning that once you're with someone you can't be curious or attracted to someone else, but I know that's not true anymore,” he explains.

How the youth is diverging from the idea of monogamy and discovering solace in polyamory and ethical non-monogamy.

One of the most common questions that polyamorous people receive is how they deal with jealousy and insecurity when their partner is romantically involved with someone else. How do you deal with this?

Prashant: I think L and I are quite similar when it comes to handling what we have with other people. I know for a fact that L’s other relationships won’t have a bearing on what we share. That's one of the main hallmarks of a polyamorous relationship– you just put your blinders on and focus on the relationship you have with your primary partner.

Arjun: You tend to feel bad about negative emotions, but once you realize that there are other people going through the same thing, you start processing what you are dealing with.

Sasha*, a 25-year-old content strategist from Mumbai feels a strong difference in the way monogamous and polyamarous folk deal with jealousy.

Sasha: With polyamorous people, the communication is very strong and you have more transparency compared to what I see in the monogamous relationships around me. I feel like a lot of monogamous people deal with guilt about being attracted to other people when it’s absolutely normal.

How the youth is diverging from the idea of monogamy and discovering solace in polyamory and ethical non-monogamy.

In polyamory, a metamour refers to a partner's partner.

Would you be willing to form friendships or bonds with your metamours? What happens if you don’t get along with them?

Lavina: I don’t think it matters if I like my metamour or not because my partner has set those boundaries. I am not very comfortable getting together with my partner’s partner and I don’t see the need ot bond with them. Obviously, I am open to discussing the possibility of this with my partner.

Prashant: I'd be okay hanging out with someone that L is going out with, but again, that's a very personal perspective. It depends on the person, the situation, but prima facie, I don't think I’ll have a problem.

Arjun: Just because I'm into my partner doesn't necessarily mean I'll like their partner too. Unless they ask, I don't think I'd tell them what to do or not to do with their partner. Instead, I'd like to focus on my own relationship with them. If I am in a secure place, I wouldn't mind knowing them.


How has polyamory affected you positively?

Sasha: It gives you a lot of flexibility and openness in the way you look at relationships. From the time that you come of age, you are taught concepts of heterosexuality, normativity, and if you like someone within those narrow confines, you try to be together forever. But being polyamorous gives you the freedom to explore outside the boundaries of sexuality. There’s this sort of elasticity there. Looking at relationships with the eyes of non-monogamy really helps you explore people and know them without these constricting boundaries and definitions.

Arjun: I get to feel the affection and intimacy right now without the negatives that were present in my previous (monogamous) relationships. Plus, I have been able to work on my communication and understand what I look for in relationships myself. You usually expect someone to understand your issues without communicating them, but since polyamory's first and foremost requirement is your work on your communication, I felt there was more space to not be "perfect".

How the youth is diverging from the idea of monogamy and discovering solace in polyamory and ethical non-monogamy.

Have there been any negative reactions when you told people you were practicing non-monogamy? What are some stereotypical things you’ve heard?

Sasha: Several. At work, I've heard things like ‘This is okay for now, but what about when you have kids? How will you explain to them who this other person is?’ People have actually said this. They think polyamory is morally loose and feel that the level of love monogamous relationships share is completely different and superior. And I'm just like, I've tried both sides of the coin and I know that you cannot expect one person to be your end-all for everything!

Prashant: I had a few close friends come to me and say,”Oh you're doing polyamory? You dont seem like the type!” That kind of miffed me a bit. But nothing apart from that.

Lavina: One stereotype I’ve come across is that polygamy doesn’t work because people are not okay with their partners getting involved with someone else emotionally or physically. They aren't okay with “sharing” their partners. I think it stems from a toxic conditioning. People find jealousy and possessiveness cute, but it’s so toxic. The whole concept of physical attachment is so hyped people are not okay with the thought of their partners getting physically involved with someone else. They’ll be okay if their partner is talking to 5 other people, probably building a better emotional connect with them, but that doesn't matter. On the other hand, if you say you don't have the time or energy to see multiple people or that you are happy with what you have with your partner, that's a very good place to come from.

(As per the request of the interviewees, aliases have been used to conceal their true identity).

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