I see it this way:
There are monogamy and non-monogamy. Under the non-mono umbrella there are several categories, which include cheating, swinging, open, and polyamory.
We all know what cheating is: the one non-ethical, dishonest form of non-monogamy.
The rest are all consensual forms of non-monogamy. Swinging is about couple-centric recreational sex activities. Though you can be single and participate in swinging, it seems to be focused mostly on couples having their fun.
Being open, to me, is about being open to casual sex, one night stands, group sex, etc. I don't think one has to be in a committed relationship to be open; if you are, then it's an open relationship or an open marriage, but if you're single or solo, you're just open. I think people who are in long-term committed relationships who say they've "opened it up" (VERB) don't always mean that they are open in the sense of being okay with casual sexual liaisons. I think most of them just mean they've opened it up to additional people, whether that means being open, poly, swinging, or what have you. But a couple saying they're open (ADJECTIVE) or in an open marriage generally seem to mean they allow for casual sex with others, but not relationships where there is emotional involvement.
And polyamory is about cultivating multiple, caring, loving relationships and does not focus on sex, or sexual activities to define this category, like the others do. Poly's focus for me is love and full disclosure. One can be poly AND any of these others, as well, or none of them, but they all come under the heading of non-monogamy.
I see polygamy and polyfidelity as approaches to polyamory.
Last edited by nycindie; 09-03-2011 at 11:37 AM.