Millennials, in particular, are increasingly open to consensual non-monogamy. “What I see a lot in working with polyamorous folks are people foregoing the traditional nuclear family with 2.4 children and instead focusing on building a network of chosen family: friends, partners, metamours (a word that polyamorous folks use to describe their partner's other partner). And yes, sometimes this also includes child-rearing,” says Turner. “But the idea of what ‘family’ can mean has expanded alongside of a change in what commitment can look like (understanding that loyalty can exist without sexual fidelity).”
But are more people actually practicing poly relationships? Maybe not ...
Nicole Prause, Ph.D., studies human sexuality (neuroscience). She isn’t convinced that openness actually has increased, so much as these are the current cultural popular topics. “The funny thing about all this poly attention is there is really no evidence that actual poly relationships have increased,” she says. “They remain a tiny fraction of relationships in representative surveys (typically less than 3%).”
The bottom line is that most of us were raised to think of intimacy in a very particular way. But there are countless ways to love and there is no one-size-fits-all approach to sexuality. “As the patriarchy dies, so will its cherished institutions,” says Jesse Smith of Seattle. “Monogamy is one of them.”
Leader suggests less antiquated avenues, such as family, friends, support groups, community and, yes, even a carefully negotiated polyamorous partnership to support and honor your needs.
“It takes all kinds, and as an early poly theorist, the late Deborah Anapol implied that it’s important for the options to be right out there, able to be talked about, so that we find the people who are right for us,” says Queen.
Given the choice between a piece of paper and a promise or an intentional, albeit more libertine, lifestyle, I emphatically choose the latter. After all, isn’t love a human experience best shared?
A Few Resources to Learn More
Search popularity indicates a rise in interest, but not necessarily a rise in useful resources to actually learn about polyamory, says Amy Gahran, author of "Stepping Off the Relationship Escalator: Uncommon Love and Life." If you’re interested in polyamory, here are a few resources to learn more: