London, April 4: They believe in free love and multiple relationships, but not casual sex ' and enjoy feeling 'frubbly'.
As a group they practise 'polyamory' ' the latest social phenomenon to cross the Atlantic to Britain, psychologists were told yesterday.
Polyamorists have relationships that are wide open. Despite having numerous partners at any one time, they are emotionally committed and do not cheat on them.
Ani Ritchie and Meg Barker of the South Bank University, London, told the British Psychological Society's annual conference in Manchester that up to 2,000 British men and women were openly polyamorous.
Barker ' who admitted to having four current lovers of both sexes ' said 200 people had subscribed to a UK mailing list and that a worldwide Internet search would reveal 170,000 links.
'Polyamory is the belief that it's acceptable or even ideal to have more than one loving or sexual partner,' she said. 'There's an emphasis on the recognition of multiple important relationships ' it's not about casual sex. Having multiple partners is usually seen in a very negative light, but this is a positive way.'
Polys, as practitioners of polyamory term themselves, now need new words to describe their emotions and actions, Barker said.
Some terms have been coined already. 'Ethical slut' is used to define a woman in an open multiple relationship and is an attempt to take the stigma out of 'slut'. Feeling 'frubbly' is described as the opposite to feeling jealous and is used to describe feelings of friendship towards a lover and their other partners, who are called 'metamours'.
A 'wibble' is a jealous feeling but 'not a massive sexual threat', Barker said. 'We are interested in another language,' she said.