The term polyamory quite literally means "many loves". Polyamorists believe that it is entirely natural and healthy to feel affection for, and/or attraction to, more than one person. And, contrary to the deeply repressive beliefs instilled by religious and conservative rhetoric, they do not believe that these feelings should necessarily be suppressed.
The defining characteristic of polyamory is belief in the possibility of, and value of, multiple romantic loving relationships carried out with the knowledge and consent of all partners concerned. What distinguishes polyamory from traditional forms of non-monogamy (i.e. "cheating") is an ideology that openness, goodwill, intense communication, and ethical behavior should prevail among all the parties involved. Powerful intimate bonding among three or more persons may occur. Some consider polyamory to be, at its root, the generalization of romantic couple-love beyond two people into something larger and more fundamental.
People who identify as polyamorous typically reject the view that sexual and relational exclusivity are necessary for deep, committed long-term loving relationships. Those who are open to, or emotionally suited for, a polyamorous lifestyle may be single or in monogamous relationships, but are often involved in multiple long term relationships such as a triad, quad, or intimate network.
A widely-shared feeling amongst polyamorists is that love is not diminished by its being shared.