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Lap-Sitting Polyamory vs. Parallel Polyamory


Parallel Polyamory

Love and relationship styles can be so diverse. With society opening up to different relationship orientations like polyamory and shows like Couple to Throuple and You Me Her, it’s allowing for individuals to expand on what is possible within their relationship dynamics.


Lap-sitting vs parallel polyamory are opposite sides of metamour arrangement styles of polyamorous relationships. Read on to learn more about the differences in lap-sitting vs. parallel polyamory, how these relate to other metamour polyamorous arrangements, and tips on creating boundaries in lap-sitting polyamory, parallel polyamory, and beyond.


Lap-Sitting vs. Parallel Polyamory


Lap-sitting and parallel polyamory are both metamour arrangement styles. A metamour arrangement refers to different ways of choosing how much interaction metamours and hinges interact with one another and how close the connections will be.


In a Lap-sitting polyamorous metamour arrangement metamours and hinges are very close and entangled. It can range from being close friends to, in some instances, sexual and/or romantic relationships with one or more individuals in the poly-dynamic. It may be preferred for individuals to cohabitate or co-parent. Some may share finances, properties, and may prioritize making decisions with group cohesion. The goal in this type of metamour arrangement is to be close and connected. Each individual has full autonomy in how they want to connect and move in their closeness with one another. The focus here is on building a consistent community.


In parallel polyamory or “parallel polyam”, metamours do not interact at all. Information is solely going through the hinge that connects individuals. Metamours and hinges know that everyone is dating other people but choose not to engage, connect, or hear about what goes on in these other connections.


There is still an understanding and respect for other connections, but individuals do not engage. Some may want to engage in this form of arrangement due to wanting to not have to go through the emotional experience of seeing your partner with another lover. For others, this may be suited for those who are in a long-distance relationships. These individuals may not even get the chance to form a connection due to being in another city.


Lap-Sitting and Parallel Polyamory and Metamour Polyamorous Arrangements


Both lap-sitting and parallel polyamory share many characteristics with other types of metamour polyamorous  arrangements. Lap-sitting polyamory and kitchen table polyamory (KTP) share many characteristics. Like lap-sitting polyamory, KTP practicing individuals want to be close to their hinges and metamours. Individuals want to have healthy and amicable relationships that create an environment of ease and intimacy.


Unlike lap-sitting polyamory, KTP individuals are not focused on being romantically and/or sexually involved with each other. KTP polyamorists want to create close friendships and form a community. Kitchen table polyamory is an umbrella term and Lap-sitting polyamory is under it, almost like KTP, plus more.


On the opposite side of the spectrum is Garden party polyamory (GPP) or “birthday party polyamory” and parallel polyamory. The characteristic that they share is that there is not a wanting to have very close connections with their metamours. These individuals also respect and value their partner’s other connections.


The difference between them both is GPP individuals make exceptions when it comes to special events of socializing and being around their metamours. GPP practicing individuals understand that their partner also has deep connections with other individuals and so having their metamours at these special events is important. They also understand that planning could be very difficult and so it can be easier to have everyone in one place.


Tips on Creating Boundaries in Lap-Sitting, Parallel Polyamory, and Beyond


No matter which metamour arrangement you choose creating boundaries is a crucial part of any arrangement that you choose.


Boundaries are put in place to allow individuals the opportunity to establish ground rules regarding how they want to move and be treated in their connections. Boundaries establish protocols that allow individuals to be emotionally safe. Many starting on their nonmonogamous journey rely heavily on these protocols. Many establish many boundaries and rules because of the insecurities that arise when engaging in nonmonogamy.


Over time as one does internal work to dive deeply into these fears many of these boundaries subside. Some boundary examples include; safe sex practices, emotional, physical, and relationship dynamics. When creating boundaries, it can be helpful to sit with the boundaries and see what the deeper meaning is when it comes to these boundaries. This can allow you to create boundaries that serve you in getting your deeper needs met than just restricting experiences.


The following are some questions you can ask yourself when establishing boundaries:

  • What is the purpose of this rule?
  • Does the rule serve this purpose?
  • Is this rule the only way to serve this purpose?


Some feel hesitant about knowing if their partner will follow these boundaries. It takes a lot of trust and security in the dynamic. Just like monogamy, there is no sure way to know if someone will cheat or lie. If you are feeling scared of your partner following these boundaries that would be something to explore with your partner. One of the benefits of nonmonogamy is individuals get to explore these fears head-on.


Since we primarily live in a compulsory monogamous society with set scripts and many assumptions this does not allow many to explore these fears or assumptions. Books and other resources could be a great first step in exploring these boundaries. Also, an experienced therapist on this topic can be helpful and propel you on the inner growth that it takes to be in these types of relationships. Knowing what to ask and how to tell if a therapist is the right fit for your needs could also make this process have more ease.


Hopefully, this article has allowed you to have a better understanding of lap-sitting and parallel polyamorous metamour arrangements. The goal here is that you as the reader can start questioning your ideals. The hope is to allow individuals to create a bigger capacity for what is possible when it comes to love and more importantly self-esteem. With the right guidance, you can remove the fears and inner negativity to be able to stand a little taller than ever before.

Modern Intimacy is a group therapy practice, founded by renowned Psychologist and Sex Therapist, Dr. Kate Balestrieri. This inclusive blog is designed to provide a wealth of information and resources for mental health, relationships, and sexuality. Subscribe today to get the latest information from our expert contributors from all around the world.


Author Bio

Emily Martinez, AMFT (she/they) is a clinical associate at Modern Intimacy who works with individuals, couples, and families around myriad mental health and sexuality issues/goals. Emily specializes in working with clients of all backgrounds, especially those who identify within diverse sexual orientation, relationship dynamic, and gender identity backgrounds.



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