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What is ‘tolyamory’? A new form of infidelity sees couples cheating on the down-low

In Europe
June 11, 2024

You might have heard of polyamory, the practice of more than one romantic partner, but we bet not many of you have heard of tolyamory.

This new term, recently coined in the US, might not be as uncommon as you think.

Tolyamory is not discussed or agreed upon by both parties, whereas polyamory is. If you haven’t already guessed what it could be, here’s what you need to know.

What is tolyamory?

The term tolyamory was created by podcaster and sex and relationship columnist Dan Savage. It’s a portmanteau that combines the terms “tolerate” and “polyamory” and describes a relationship dynamic where one or both parties tolerate or put up with the other’s extramarital or sexual encounters.

In contrast to other consensual non-monogamy practices like polyamory, this one isn’t something the couple have formally discussed and agreed upon.

The word was introduced in a January episode on Savage’s podcast, where he described it as “someone willing to turn a blind eye to a lap dance or a brief affair after years of marriage”.

He added: “They’re able to focus on all the ways their spouse demonstrates their commitment and shows their love. And all of those other ways compensate or make the cheating that might be happening tolerable. These people aren’t fools or dupes.

“They’re not to be pitied – they know what they signed up for and long ago made peace with what they got. They’re willing to put up with it – a certain amount of it – reconciled to it, willing to tolerate it. They are, in a word, tolyamorous.”

Although we don’t know how prevalent it is at the moment, it is becoming quite common, according to relationship researchers.

Other terms that have caught on in recent years

Polyfidelity is similar to tolyamorous but all party members involved know about each other.

It is a type of non-monogamy, a structure for romantic relationships in which all participants agree to limit romantic and/or sexual activities to other group members and are regarded as equal partners.

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