If I’m Poly am I Kinky?

Q: Recently I’ve discovered I strongly identify as poly, and as I’ve started discussing this with friends and online people there seems to be an assumption that this means I’m kinky. I’ve never had any interest in spanking or bondage and things. I just fall in love with several people. So do I have to be kinky if I’m poly?

A. Thanks for an interesting question, and one that’s not uncommon. 

The very quick and initial answer is ‘It depends how you define “kink”.’ On it’s very basic level, a kink is simply a bend against the norm - it’s not ‘straight’. So I’d say that anything non-mainstream can be considered ‘kinky’ - including a sexually ‘vanilla’ poly dynamic. 

The more specific definition of ‘kink’ as it relates to fetishism is a far more loaded definition that still carries some stigma and misunderstanding. It’s not that surprising to hear people are making this assumption. And it’s also unsurprising that some people in non-traditional relationships reject the kink nomenclature, refusing to let their lifestyle be fetishised. 

In terms of active sexual kink, a poly relationship makes no more demands on this than a mono relationship - and again, it’s a social assumption that because you like some things - like having more than one partner - you must like other things - like spanking orgies with all your partners. Simply admitting to some form of alternative lifestyle is enough for some people to feel permitted to ask overly personal questions - like, if you’re happy to admit being poly, you’ll be happy to share intimate details of what that means to you. Again, social assumptions. It’s entirely your call how much personal information you share with others in your attempts to ‘educate’ them, but always keep in mind you owe no further explanation than a person in a traditional relationship. In context of longer-term acceptance and understanding of relationships other than heteronormative monogamy, it really can be a case of ‘show, don’t tell’. Live authentic to yourself and set a great example.

This is YOUR relationship, and ultimately you and your partners define the varying aspects, dynamics, and activities as you will. There are SO many words in the world; I have every confidence you and yours can find the perfect descriptors for your situation.


  • Tigerlily2034
    More than a month ago

    Throughly enjoyed this article..and the replies.
    As it happens on the money for current situation.
    Be happy and love authentically... your way xxxx

  • malevoyeur Photo
    More than a month ago

    defining your sexuality can happen at any stage of life, and may well take most of it to figure out, well, I did, but oh what fun it has been, once the light bulb came on... I have chosen to define myself, to the outside world, in a way I feel comfortable with, not what someone else might feel comfortable with… its my business, my life and I will label myself appropriate to how I feel, act and live my life…

    and its interesting, but throughout my debauched and depraved life, I always thought of myself as normal, you know 'vanilla'.... but having recently revisited my sexuality, and needs, I find I am more a 'poly' that I ever thought and a lot more 'kinky' than the "wicked kinky" that AugustusSeizer mentions in his comment... but what’s ‘kinky’ anyway?...

  • AugustusSeizer Photo
    More than a month ago

    Very nicely put. I always appreciate your writing.

    But I'd add that, in my experience, admission of poly interest is more challenging to vanilla people than "wicked kinky". Everyone has some degree of understanding of Wicked Kinky - "It's basically fancy dress and occasional 'deviance' isn't it? Sounds naughty and fun!" The thing is, most vanillas like the idea of adding some French lingerie, a toy or something now and then, so "wicked kinky" is just "what we do but on steroids".

    But poly? Whooooo. That directly threatens the standard vanilla 1-on-1 relationship, involves the dynamite of "multiple sex partners", and the atomic bomb of "multiple loves". It's like mentioning gay matters to overtly straight men with gender identity issues - potential for very big negatives because of all the exposed insecurities and worries.

    Looking back I was born poly. I was genuinely confused when, at 16, my date was deeply offended that I thought it ok for her to "dirty dance" with another guy. She was a great (proper) dancer and I just teen-hopped around. Why not be properly twirled? I intuitively understood she'd be back. Or not - in which case we'd only be having a couple of dates any way. But she was deeply offended that I thought her the kind of girl who'd arrive with one guy and just dance with anyone! The teenage black-and-white fury is amusing now but was very confusing then. The trouble is, most vanilla people haven't ventured must past that level of thinking, not necessarily because they are "inferior" but likely only because of not having occasion to sit down and think about it. So any suggestion of "poly" in any form is may well be very confronting and threatening in ways that "wicked kinky" is not.

    For my money, it's nobody's business who you vote for, what deity you do or don't follow, or what the details of your love/sex life are. Like a Le Carre spy novel... "Information is on a needs to know basis".

    • AMM.Editor Photo
      More than a month ago

      We're glad you enjoyed the article. FYI when we receive a question from a member we choose the most appropriate writer from our team of sexperts to answer the question and in this case it was MisKnickers who wrote this for us.

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