Apr 8, 2022

What is kitchen-table polyamory?

Polyamory is all fabulous sex and abundant emotional connections, isn't it? Well, yes, as long as you do the admin

By Gigi Engle

Polyamory as a practice is rife with terminology. Since this style of love doesn’t fit the heterosexual-monogamous script, terminology helps people to define themselves, their relationships and their way preferred way of living. 

‘Polyamory’ is an umbrella term that applies to people who have romantic and/or sexual relationships with multiple partners but the ways in which people practice polyamory vary greatly. Every relationship is like a beautiful, unique snowflake. Each one is defined by the people involved in the relationship.

While many people don’t like to apply labels to themselves, when you’re figuring out what you want your relationship to look like IRL, they can be useful. Enter: Kitchen Table Polyamory (KTP). This is a relationship form in which a triad, quad or polycule (a group of more than three partners) all have close relationships with one another. 

KTP is customisable, but the general idea is this: in a KTP-style polyamorous relationship, everyone in the group (lovers, metamours etc.) could sit down at a kitchen table and share a meal together. ‘That doesn’t mean that each person is sexually or romantically involved, but there is a baseline of friendship, communication and mutual respect,’ says Kenneth Play, a relationships expert and creator of the Sex Hacker Pro Series.

Doesn’t that sound pretty lush? Let’s get into this very interesting relationship configuration.

What exactly is Kitchen Table Polyamory?

Kitchen Table Polyamory (KTP) refers to ‘a style of polyamorous relationship in which the interrelationship of a network, and the integration of multiple romantic relationships into one life or group, is prioritised,’ explains Jordan Dixon, a clinical sex and relationships psychotherapist. ‘Close relationships between metamours and/or telemours are strongly encouraged or required.’

Like all polyamorous relationships, KTP can manifest in different ways. Take Play’s own life, for example: ‘I for one am in a poly V relationship where my wife, Karen, has two husbands, me and Geronimo. Me and Geronimo are not sexually and romantically involved, but we have a collaborative metamour relationship, where we try to support each other’s lives to be the best they can be.’

This is an interactive relationship style that requires a lot of communication, empathy and honesty. It’s not the easiest thing in the world but Play says there are a lot of benefits to the KTP dynamic. Among many other things, everyone has ‘Transparency, full disclosure and community collaborative effort towards making everyone happy.’ 

How KTP is different from other polyamorous relationships

If you’re feeling a bit confused, don’t worry. These things are complicated.

The KTP dynamic is different from other multi-partner relationships styles (open relationships, closed polycules etc.) in that it has an emphasis on open communication and friendship (or more) between all partners involved. ‘This approach to polyamory describes a connection where metamours and their hinge partner can happily hang out together,’ Dixon says. 

This is different from other styles such as ‘Parallel Polyam’, in which multiple relationships exist in parallel to each other, but metamours don’t meet each other. There are many different styles of relationship that we could dig into here, but, alas, that would take a few dozen more blogs to cover.

How to know if this relationship style could work for you

Does being close with your partner’s partners (and vice-versa) sound appealing to you? If so, KTP may be your bag. 

‘Kitchen table poly is about sharing love with as many people and in as meaningful a way as possible,’ Dixon says. ‘Regularly spending time together, both with and without [metamours], can be a potentially great way of cultivating connections.’ It’s wonderful to have a community mindset when engaging in polyamory. You get and give so much love and support. It can be a very enriching way to live.

With that being said, it’s very important that we state that no form of relationship is better than any other. There is a common thought thread within the polyamorous community that KTP is the most ‘evolved’ form of polyamorous relationships. This is not true. While it can be very positive and fulfilling for some people, it doesn’t work for everyone. 

It’s not for everyone and that’s totally valid

While there are lots of benefits to this kind of relationship, there are also drawbacks. Not everything works for everyone. ‘There are so many nuances, not everyone wants to know all the details or get friendly with their partner's metamours,’ Dixon says. ‘Some partners do want to feel prioritised as they may have been together longer and live together for example, that’s ok and it has to be agreed upon.’ 

There is also the risk of pressure when it comes to sex. KTP relationships sometimes involve everyone sharing at least one sexual experience. ‘The thought that we must now be friends or even have sex with everyone we are dating can open up a worm hole of complexities,’ Dixon notes. This isn’t the case of every KTP relationship, but you can see how this focus on creating strong bonds with everyone in the polycule could be tricky.

The most important thing is that only you and your partners get to choose how you want to live your lives. As long as everyone is on board, in the loop and openly communicating, any style of open relationship is valid. You are entitled to live your life in the manner you choose. You deserve happiness. 

Gigi Engle is a certified sex educator and author of All The F * cking Mistakes: a guide to sex, love and life. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter @GigiEngle

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