Polyamorous in Prague: taking a closer look at alternative relationship models

Often misunderstood, polyamory is an alternative relationship model that aims to free itself from the traditional nuclear family style relationship. But even as this relationship structure gets more common, many people still misunderstand proponents of it, and polyamorous couples are often subject to judgement and prejudice.

Characterised by the practice of being involved with or having multiple romantic relationships, polyamory is a relationship model that has become more common over recent years. Yet according to a recent survey done by Behavio and cited by Radio Wave, only 1% of Czechs are polyamorous.

Ema Sikora | Photo: Institut Moderní láska

A common misconception about polyamory is that it’s just about sex, or having the ability to have multiple sexual partners, but that’s often far from the case. Often, couples who are engaging in polyamory define the new rules of their relationship as they go, and tend to avoid conforming to a model that is set in stone, says Ema Sikora, a therapist at the Institute of Modern Love.

“Monogamy has hundreds of years of rules on how to behave, what should be done by men, what should be done by women. But polyamory does not have this, it’s about establishing new rules in each relationship. And in each relationship, you realize that your boundaries are changing depending on the person. Relationships are very fluid, and you have to accept this and becoming quite flexible. You really have to be in tune with yourself to realize what is making you feel good, or what is making you feel bad, and then be able to discuss that with your partner. We tend to say that polyamory is 99% communication and 1% sex, because there is a misconception that polyamory is about having a lot of partners and really enjoying this, but this is not the case.”

So how does one come up with the rules of a polyamorous relationship? Dario and Donatella, a couple originally from Italy living in Prague, subscribe to a “non-exclusive but hierarchical” form of polyamory, meaning they have several other romantic relationships, but their relationship takes priority. Dario explains how their relationship dynamic has evolved over the years.

“It’s difficult to define when exactly we became polyamorous, because it has been a transition. We started as a monogamous couple 22 years ago, and we originally experimented sexually as swingers, but not with random people, we were building real connections with others. Certainly, we didn’t know about the term polyamory at the time, and we didn’t consider ourselves as such. About eight years ago, we had a relationship with a couple, and this was more like polyamory and was really the moment that we can pin as the start.”

But what about things like jealousy, do polyamorous couples still experience these emotions? Donatella explains.

“I think jealousy does not simply disappear, of course there are some moments when one or the other is jealous – and usually it’s about time. But it’s important to talk about it and not hide it, and deal with. We always try to acknowledge that this is an emotion that everyone has, and that it’s completely normal.”

Divorce | Illustrative Photo: Gerd Altmann,  Pixabay,  Pixabay License

So why the push towards polyamorous relationship models? Ema Sikora says it has a lot to do with the family and relationship dynamics people grow up in.

“In Czechia, we have a really high divorce rate, so most children are raised in families where the parents don’t live together. Typically, infidelity is the reason for divorce, so that’s why we’re seeing amongst the new generation that people are looking for alternative relationship models. People don’t want to subscribe to the expectation that you marry someone and spend the rest of your life with them at 22 or 23. Now people are marrying later and having kids later, because they want to be sure that the person they are with and the home they are providing is a stable one. Or sometimes others really just don’t believe in monogamy anymore.”

Traditional views of relationships amongst Czechs means that polyamorous couples are often up against prejudice that stems from a misunderstanding of these newer relationship dynamics, and with only 1% of Czechs identifying as polyamorous, it is still fairly rare. But as romantic relationships continue to evolve, perhaps the mind sets of Czechs will too.

Authors: Mathilda Dutel , Amelia Mola-Schmidt
run audio