by Sally Churchward.
Polyamory, also known as consensual non-monogamy, is gaining more attention in the media and evidence is that it’s growing as a relationship model. Here, five people share what it’s like to be in polyamorous relationships.
“This is a constant thing between Tom and me. Someone’s into him and he says ‘no no no, they’re just being friendly.’ I’ll be like, ‘well, they’re being very friendly,’” laughs April.* “I was telling Tom that Caia was into him…”
“I was like ‘definitely, this is 100% not a thing,’” interjects Caia. “I was already in a really close friendship with April and was thinking ‘is it worth the risk?’. There was a bit of denial and a bit of ‘this doesn’t seem like a sensible idea.’”
“And all the time, I just sit in the corner and roll my eyes,” says April. “Then, there was a party and it happened, and I was like ‘there you go, I told you!’”
April, her husband Tom, and his girlfriend Caia laugh as they recount the tale of how Caia went from being a roller derby teammate of April’s to Tom’s girlfriend.
The trio – who are not in a triad (April and Caia are good friends but not sexually or romantically involved, while April also has a boyfriend and Tom has another relationship) – are sharing their experiences about being polyamorous.
Polyamory – also known as consensual non-monogamy is coming increasingly under the spotlight, which inevitably means a lot of myths, speculation and sadly some hostility are also on the rise.
The number of people who identify as being, or having been, in a polyamorous relationship, whilst relatively small, is increasing – up from 2% in 2015 to 7% in 2019 – with 23% of UK adults self-reporting as being open to non-monogamy in the same YouGov survey.
The UK Polyamory Association was recently set up to provide support and advocacy for polyamorous people who face discrimination or stigma. Newspapers feature headlines such as ‘Polyamory is everywhere’ , ‘How Dating a Couple Set Me Free’, and the most mainstream of papers, The Times, recently carried the article, .’The Ultimate Guide to Polyamory Without The Heartbreak’.
Dating apps such as Hinge, OKCupid, Feeld and Tinder now cater to polyamorous users. A number of TV shows and films have been about, or featured polyamorous relationships, or polycules, including Trigonometry (2020), She’s Gotta Have it (2017-19), Wanderlust (2018) and You Me Her (2015-20), while the subject can increasingly be found on the shelves of bookstores, with titles such as Justin L. Clardy’s 2023 publication Why It’s OK Not to be Monogamous joining the likes of 2014’s More than Two: A Practical Guide to Ethical Non-Monogamy, 2022’s Polysecure: Attachment, Trauma and Consensual Non-Monogamy and 2017’s It’s Called Polyamory.
Before getting too far into a discussion of polyamory, it’s important to understand that there is not one model or polyamory, or one reason for being polyamorous. For some, it’s a conscious choice, for others, it’s the way they’ve always arranged their relationships, but now there’s a name for it. Some people love more than one person at the same time. Some like to combine one or several long term relationships with more casual sexual encounters. For others, they happen to be in a relationship with someone who is polyamorous, or prefer a polyamorous partner because it means they have more time to themselves.
The list goes on.
It’s also important to note that polyamory has been, and still is, more prevalent in some cultures than others. While in Britain, the relationship ideal has long been presented as a single partnership for life, or failing that, a series of long-term monogamous relationships, this isn’t the case in many cultures, including amongst people who have migrated to the UK.
To view polyamory as something new is inaccurate, though it does seem to be a growing relationship ‘model’ and with more people becoming aware of the language to discuss it, and to consider it as a potentially better option for themselves than the prevailing monogamous norm.
Cath, an academic, has personal and professional experience of polyamorous relationships, and is very conscious that creating a narrow definition of anything, from sexual orientation to polyamory, is of no benefit to anyone, and can mean exchanging one set of restrictive rules for another.
“For me, ‘poly’ is just a description of how you might arrange relationships,” she says. “Fundamentally, I feel you can do whatever you want within it, as long as everyone knows what you’re doing. For me, am I poly or am I monogamous? I don’t really know. I’m not seeing anyone else, I’m not trying to date anyone else.But, my girlfriend has a husband. It puts me in the poly category. It has an impact on our relationship but if we were monogamous we would have other commitments outside of our relationship.
“The more people I meet who are poly, the less consistency there seems to be on what people are calling poly,” she adds.
“I don’t think I’m particularly unusual in being almost accidentally monogamous in a poly relationship.”
Brandon shares how he made a very conscious decision to explore polyamorous relationships. He is now in a relationship with Sophie, who, along with her fiancé, Mark, recently opened up their relationship.
Brandon had always seen himself as very monogamous, but as he began to have more conversations about polyamory with a polyamorous friend, he began to see it as a relationship model which might be a better fit for him.
“Relationships have always been a key part of my life goals. I was coming at it from a position that I couldn’t possibly have more than one relationship,” he says.
“I felt one was enough, how could you possibly give that much or be enough for two people, until I realised that it’s shared. You’re not expected to be available for anyone all the time – I read recently that there is no cap on how much love you can put out but time and energy are limited.
“When that hit it coincided with me thinking about my seasonal affective disorder – I can get introverted. I’d felt it was somewhat unfair of me to have a partner at all because I change so much between the seasons. In the winter I’ve really wanted to have a lot more alone time and have had moments where I’ve wondered if I can even have a relationship if I’m this changeable.
“Then it occurred to me that with polyamory, I would be able to have relationships with people with this understanding that I find the season changes quite difficult, knowing that they could have some of their needs met with other partners, and therefore, I wouldn’t feel guilty about what I couldn’t give.
“I always want to be the best partner I possibly can be, but sometimes you can’t fulfil your own expectations of that, or the needs of other people, and I started to realise that polyamory meant a sharing of needs, time, attention and desires. That’s when I started to think ‘this makes a lot of sense, not just for me, but in general’.
“No one can be the perfect person for you, because it might be that there are some contradictions in what you want. There are so many things that you might want to do in life and share with a partner that you’re probably more likely to find that with different people rather than one person. Obviously often that’s not the be all and end all of a relationship at all, but I guess I kind of feel like there’s the opportunity for more fulfilment in that circumstance.”
April and Tom were polyamorous from the ‘official’ start of their relationship. There was a period where they were together in all but name, and during this time polyamory and their feelings about it were often discussed, and it was the natural model for them being together.
“Before we were officially together, I went out and then went home with somebody, just for sex and Tom went ‘oh, I feel I’ve got something to say about that’. And then I got together with Jess and it was like ‘what’s happening here now?’,” says April.
“Neither of us had been in a poly relationship before, but me and Tom talked about relationships in general a lot and neither of us felt we fitted into how other people defined all kinds of relationships – friendships, romantic relationships, the difference between sexual relationships and romantic relationships – which is less a thing that Tom has, but I do for sure, because I can enjoy sex with people without it changing the fundamentals of the friendship for me.”
Tom adds: “I think a problem in both of my previous marriages was that I would have these intense friendships and my partners would find that uncomfortable. Sometimes there were romantic feelings there that I was pushing down and ignoring, and often there weren’t, but either way it made me realise that what felt normal to me, which was to have these very emotionally intense, close friendships, didn’t seem normal to some people.”
He continues: “My family was very Christian, so monogamy and marriage were super important. That seemed like something that couldn’t be challenged and nobody was suggesting challenging it either.
“From very young, I often had very strong feelings for more than one person at a time, and I put a lot of energy into sublimating that. Because I’m demisexual in a sense – I only tend to experience attraction to people I’ve already built a strong connection with. It would often be people who I was close to who I felt attracted to, and that felt like it was over a line in lots of ways.
“I spent a lot of energy making sure that I didn’t do or say anything I shouldn’t do. I couldn’t make my feelings disappear but I didn’t tell anyone about them, didn’t do that stuff.”
Ciara, Tom’s girlfriend, is now in her 40s, and has been in polyamorous relationships on and off since her 20s.
“I didn’t have the examples to refer to, or know the language or anything, but it was just what happened,” she says.
“I always think it’s like a bingo card model. Everybody has a different bingo card with different things to tick off. In a monogamous world, me and Tom would be completely incompatible, because he likes nesting and the family stuff and all those things, and I’m totally not into that, but I can tick off other bingo boxes with him. We’ve got different needs to match to different people.”
It’s not unusual for people to assume that those in polyamorous relationships are all in relationships with each other – a triad – as depicted in the television series, Trigonometry, which saw a bisexual female lodger fall in love with her landlords, a pre-existing couple made up of a bisexual woman and a heterosexual man, but this is only one way of organising polyamorous relationships.
“I went on lots of online communities and read about other people’s experiences, and how people hurt other people,” says Tom.
“I really wanted to know that – because I didn’t want to be that guy. “They talked a lot about couples’ privilege and how people can get hurt by people who are in nesting relationships.
“‘Unicorn hunting’ is a (typically a male and female) couple looking for a bisexual female partner, who will be equally attracted to both of them, who doesn’t have any of their own needs and will just slot into their lives without any changes.”
April and Tom did find themselves in an unplanned triad early in their relationship.
“I was with her first and then we all developed feelings for each other,” explains April.
Tom adds: “People talk about a triad and use language like ‘we’re adding someone to our relationship’, but actually no one can have a relationship with a couple. You have two relationships with two individuals who are together. If you try to have a relationship with a couple, it gets very messy and complicated, and people end up not being treated like humans quite often. Because it developed organically, we managed to avoid most of that.”
“Tom’s relationship with her, and mine, were really different and we spent time together separately and together as well,” says April.
“Also, she has a phenomenally high sex drive and there were times when it was like ‘you take this one, I’m tired’. We did all sleep together sometimes, and sometimes it would be like ‘I’m just tapping out now’. But it didn’t happen that often. There were the practicalities of it too, like the fact that we have children to look after.”
It’s easy to see that part of the appeal of a triad – at least from an outsider’s perspective – is the idea of having more than one partner, but without issues around jealousy, not that that would necessarily be the case in reality, of course. After all, whenever people start talking about polyamory, the subject which inevitably comes up, mostly sooner rather than later, is the green eyed monster.
Jealousy is often actively encouraged in our culture. Jealousy and possessiveness can be seen as signs that someone is really interested in you, and romantic jealousy is often given as an excuse for outrageous – even destructive – behaviour.
Memes frequently circulate on social media advising people not to allow their partner to have friends of the sex they’re attracted to (super difficult for bi and pan sexual people, of course), and promoting the notion that your ‘true love’ should be able to meet all your needs, even to the exclusion of entirely non-romantic friendships.
It’s presented as romantic, but it doesn’t take much analysis to recognise this as toxic, restrictive and an unreasonable amount of pressure to heap onto one person.
But even at the less troublesome end of the spectrum, how much of an issue is jealousy in polyamorous relationships?
Brandon says that it was certainly a consideration for him when he was first thinking about entering into a polyamorous relationship.
“I started to think that it made sense, but wouldn’t I be jealous, would I be insecure and things like that,” he says.
“I haven’t felt any kind of jealousy towards the already established relationship. My feeling is gratitude that they were able to get to this point, because then I get to have a relationship with Sophie. There’s no jealousy there and I do what I can to be a good metamor, which is the term for your partner’s partner, to work on my communication, keep him in mind when I’m thinking about making plans.
“To be honest, sometimes the most difficult thing is scheduling. We share calendars and that’s quite a formal thing to do, but it’s helpful and it’s worked so far.
“I think that it would be different when it comes to her having new partners and I think that will be a bridge to cross, when it comes to jealousy.
“You talk about it first of all. You talk about everything and are honest about things. I think with polyamory, to do it in an ethical and fair way that’s going to work, you’ve got to be committed to working on issues, confronting stuff, being honest, because otherwise it’s going to cause a lot of upset and problems,” he adds.
“So with jealousy and insecurity, there’s a deeper problem there. For example, I think I might feel insecure or jealous if Sophie started seeing someone else.
“Why would I feel that way? Well, it’s like what if Sophie gets bored of me, or hasn’t got as much time to spend with me? So then you talk about those things, you dive deeper into the root of those feelings.
“Sophie lives with Mark and they’re engaged, but we are in a non-hierarchical situation where no one person has more authority over the relationship dynamic than anyone else. Obviously there are inherent things that are important to people who live together which I am respectful of. It’s been a lot less difficult in terms of my own feelings than I thought it would be.
“It’s definitely more difficult from Mark’s side of things, but it helps that he also has a girlfriend, so we’re all on the same page. I think when people open up their partnership but one person is dating someone and the other isn’t yet, that can be very challenging.
“It’s all about communication, and looking at what the real problem is. Being clear about things like boundaries and finding good ways of communicating is helpful for so much more than just relationships. This is a learning curve for sure and it’s definitely not easier than monogamy, but I feel like I’m growing as a person by engaging with this and engaging with myself a bit better.”
For Cath, like Brandon, coming into an existing relationship, jealousy hasn’t been an issue.
“I struck up a relationship with someone I’ve known for about 20 years in 2020. They’d been poly for about ten years and that was completely non-negotiable for them. I entered a relationship with them and they were already seeing someone else, and that didn’t bother me at all. It was very clear what commitment we had to each other. It was non-hierarchical, which is my preferred way of doing it. I don’t like to be a third, I’d rather have an equal sense of everyone’s relationship to each other. It’s just what suits you.
“Some people prefer that, because that’s what suits their lives and they have a lot of independence. I prefer to have something that looks like a traditional relationship, unless you ask me how many people are involved, in which case it looks a bit more complicated!” she laughs.
“That relationship ended after about a year, but the person my ex had been seeing is now the person I’m with. That relationship had ended too and we both ended up together which is kind of fun, very poly.
“She’s married and has children. It’s a non-hierarchical relationship so her commitment is to both me and her husband. I’m not seeing anyone else because I’m much too lazy, rather than any particular bent.”
April says any jealous feelings she has are around Caia’s freedom.
“The only time I’m jealous of Caia is how much freedom she has to do all the things she wants to do! I don’t get jealous of her and Tom but I’d be lying if I said I don’t get jealous of her because she’s always doing cool things and she has a lot of freedom I don’t have. Relationship wise, no. Their relationship is relatively new and I’m sure at some point I’m going to have a jealous feeling.
“Jealousy and envy are just feelings, so you can have them and they pass. Like, I’m jealous of people who can walk – I don’t want to go around and kneecap them all,” adds April, who in recent years has become disabled and uses a wheelchair.
“I’m happy for them that they can walk, it’s just that I would also like to be able to walk. That tends to be what it’s like with relationships. Like they went to Venice, I was like ‘Oh, I want to go to Venice’, and I did make Tom promise that we would go on holiday too.”
Tom adds: “The thing with jealousy is that when you use it in monogamous relationships it’s this huge, encompassing word. “Everything you see in the media/movies – it’s people who are in a romantic relationship and something happens that involves someone else, and people are so overwhelmed by their awful feelings they might kill someone or take to their bedrooms and not come out for a month. Nobody really picks apart what that means. One of the things that poly people often do when people ask about jealousy and fear is talk about it more, break it down and name what it is.
“The first time April was involved with someone else, I did have some difficult feelings about it but they were completely different to what I thought they might be. I didn’t have any issue with the fact that she was out having a fantastic time, but I did realise we hadn’t had all sorts of conversations about ‘what if that happens, like will you come home tonight, what am I going to do tomorrow morning if you’re not here and I’ve got the kids,’ and also realising that some of those things had the opportunity to make me feel not important. If she’d just disappeared and reappeared at 4 o’clock the following afternoon with no contact, I think I would have felt fairly rubbish (she didn’t). Those were the things that I was wrestling with rather than any feelings about what she was actually doing.”
Communication is key in healthy relationships – in terms of one’s own feelings, practical arrangements and ongoing contact, as Caia notes.
“With jealousy, potentially one of the reasons why it’s not an issue is Tom’s really good at communicating, so if he’s out and has an amazing meal he’s quite likely to send me a photo and say ‘look at this,’” she says.
“It’s not like ‘you are no longer significant to me because I’m doing something else’. It’s not like I’m not going to hear from him for three days.”
She adds that compersion – sympathetic joy, taking pleasure in the happiness of others – is the healthy counterpoint to jealousy.
“The jealousy versus compersion thing is so important,” she says. “People are like ‘wouldn’t you get jealous if April and Tom go on a nice date,’ and I’ll be like ‘why would I be jealous if people I love go and have a wonderful time and later they excitedly tell me all about it? That’s fun right!’”
Of course, all this communication, dealing with jealousy, freedom and self-expression doesn’t mean that polyamorous relationships are perfect. They’re as flawed, complex and potentially abusive as any other relationship. And the fact that they are so often demonised and presented as immature, or ‘lesser’ relationships, that those involved need to defend significantly more than those with a more conventional relationship can present serious problems.
“Where there’s a lot of negativity about something and the potential that you might want or need to hide or disguise part of it, there’s also an enormous risk of abuse,” says Cath.
“Obviously, the ideal version of a polyamorous relationship is that everyone’s really communicative and open, and understands their needs and respects them as well as others, but we’re people and nobody ever does that perfectly.
“There’s a huge risk, particularly when you are working from a culture, or even maybe a family, which is negative about it. For example, if your parents aren’t very happy about the fact that you aren’t getting married etc. You may have to work really hard to say ‘this relationship that I have with this person, and it’s polyamorous. It’s valuable. It’s secure. It’s positive’.
“That means that if something goes wrong, if that person becomes abusive, manipulative, if they start exploiting your insecurities, you can’t, perhaps, go to your family and say ‘things aren’t going well,’ because it feels like you’re proving them right.
“It feels like the response you’ll get is ‘well, we told you this was a stupid thing to do, we told you this was not sustainable, we told you this was an immature type of relationship to have,’ and it means that people can become isolated really, really quickly from places that they would normally go to for support if an intimate relationship isn’t working.”
So how can we help stop people in minority relationships, such as polyamorous ones, from becoming isolated and potentially vulnerable to abuse?
“It comes to the same thing over and over again, which is that the more accepting and open we are of people determining how they want to live their lives, and organise their relationships, the less risk there is of people having to disguise or try to present a relationship as perfect when actually it is, like everyone’s relationship, imperfect in places,” say Cath.
“If there is greater acceptance, greater discussion and less valuing of certain types of relationships over others, then nobody is having to defend their own relationship as perfect, and hide anything that goes wrong for fear of people saying ‘I told you so,’ and those risks of secrecy kind of melt away.”
Unfortunately, prejudices around polyamory do abound.
“I think there’s often a lot of concern about workplace ramifications, particularly if you’re in certain kinds of roles, for example if you work with children or are in any kind of public office,” says Cath.
“I don’t think there’s much chance of any MPs coming out as poly anytime soon, because those norms around stable, secure family life, what it means to be emotionally mature, those kinds of things are really tied to monogamy and there’s some sort of suggestion that having more than one partner also means you’re sexually excessive, have uncontrollable desires, all these negative associations, which would make you completely unacceptable to be anywhere near children or would be seen as indicative of a moral failing and being untrustworthy.
“There’s this cascade of negative associations that might not be explicit, that might not be targeted in the same way as when you’re walking down the street hand-in-hand with a girlfriend and somebody shouts ‘lesbians’ at you, but it still feels like a risk and people who are in those sorts of positions do carefully hide relationships for those reasons.”
Gender stereotypes can also strongly come into play when people judge those in polyamorous relationships.
“Women are accused of being excessively sexual if they’re poly and men can be accused of being feminised or emasculated by being in poly relationships, because they’re ‘allowing their women to go off with other men,’” says Cath.
“There are also a lot of cultures where polyamory is much more routine, and there are people living in the UK from those cultures who have experienced hostility themselves or have disguised the complexity of their parents’ or their grandparents’ relationships.”
While those in polyamorous relationships can be the target of misunderstanding, hatred and shaming, better understanding of polyamory can help dispel this – and support people in being kinder to themselves too.
“When I was younger, I had a real feeling that my feelings about sex were a wrong thing about me,” says April.
“I love using the word ‘slut’ now about myself, that’s a really empowering word, like ‘queer’, but when I was younger, that was not a positive word at all. I felt like ‘oh no, I’m a bit slutty, what if I cheated on someone,’ which I’ve never done because trust and communication in relationships is really important to me. But I sort of felt I must be almost a closet cheater, who just doesn’t act on it when they’re in relationships, which is weird, really internalised and full of shame.
“I think part of why I don’t relate to typical gender and sexuality and relationship models is because I’m autistic,” she adds.
“So the things that ‘normal’ people just do, I don’t tend to go ‘OK that’s normal I’ll do it,’ I tend to look at and think ‘what does that mean? Do I think that? I don’t know if I do’.”
Having the language to talk about polyamory and polyamorous relationships is important in helping people to understand their own thoughts and feelings, and to communicate them to others and to assist the wider population in developing a better understanding and acceptance of polyamorous relationships.
“I think it’s really useful to have the term ‘poly’ to describe what you’re doing, because it’s increasingly comprehensible,” says Cath.
“When I sometimes casually mention my girlfriend’s husband, people do go ‘WHAT?’ And I’m like ‘we all know about each other, it’s fine,’ and they settle down quickly, like I’ve accidentally not realised I’m having an affair.
If I said ‘I’m monogamous but my girlfriend has a husband,’ it’s a lot harder for people to get their heads round.”
Brandon has consciously been reading up on polyamory.
“I’m still quite early in my understanding,” he says.
“Even as a relationship style, the fact you have to do research on it, I think that might be potentially off putting for some people, but to be honest I think it’s healthy for anyone, even in a monogamous relationship, to look at better ways of communicating, how to relate to people, how to strengthen relationships, stuff like that.”
Tom also consciously carried out research as he and April began talking about polyamory.
“I did a lot of reading,” he says.
“I joined a lot of Facebook groups and read about other people’s experiences. I read about ways in which poly relationships have been harmful to people, especially because we’re a couple. There are a lot of people whose experiences of poly have felt exploitative because of the way couples have treated individuals who are not nesting with someone else.”
April adds: “In terms of reading lots about polyamory, I’m the opposite. I’m very internally referenced and just do what feels right for me. But I have learnt lots of the language through Tom and I think it’s important because it helps you understand yourself and what you’re doing, and also when having conversations with other people, because before I was just going, ‘Me and Tom are married, but I have a girlfriend and everyone’s fine with it’, and I don’t see why that would be a problem but other people need a bit more of an explanation of how that works.”
Knowing that there are other relationship models beyond the one most frequently presented by society is an important aspect of allowing people to explore what model might be right for them.
But, that doesn’t mean that taking the step outside of expectations is easy, even for those who are sure it is the best choice for them.
“For me, being trans, queer, neurodivergent and having mental health troubles, I don’t remember at any point in my life feeling like I was represented or understood by the norms and conventions of society and wasn’t bothered by them,” says Brandon.
“I’m already off society’s norms, so what’s another thing to add to the list that makes me different? I’ve got nothing to lose. So I really admire people who are cis gender and in heterosexual relationships and decide ‘actually it’s better for our relationship if we open it up and step into this’, which is actually quite difficult. It’s rewarding, but it’s not easier – not at first anyway. Once you get over some of the hurdles and get to grips with things, it can be easier in some ways.”
April adds: “For me, with all my blurriness, the definition of what’s a partner and what’s a friend, what’s this and what’s that, I feel more like I have a completely individual relationship with every person in my life. “It’s not like there’s a mould for what a romantic/sexual/friendship relationship looks like. I love that about me. I didn’t used to love it about me. I used to think that was bad and broken.”
She now describes herself as a ‘relationship anarchist’.
“Relationship anarchy basically means breaking down what it is that people think of as relationships,” she explains.
“Like what culturally we do, the relationship escalator: you meet someone, you date them, then you move in, get married, have babies – that’s what you’re supposed to do, but we don’t have to do that. We can do things completely differently. We can totally deconstruct that and live in a way that’s true and honest for us, and you can change it at any time.
“At any time in your life you can be like ‘you know, this isn’t really serving me,’”
“The relationship between the patriarchy and so much of our culture is rooted in Christianity and those values, and there are a lot of puritan hangovers.
“It’s about looking at things and saying, ‘OK I think maybe the relationship mode, the 2.4 kids situation, who does that really benefit? Is it the people in that relationship or is it a part of maintaining existing power structures? There’s the status quo: here’s the man, he’s in charge of the house, there’s the woman, she has babies, that’s what she’s for.’
“That’s also part of how capitalism works and how people are valued based on their relationship status because there are benefits of being married, like there are benefits of being straight. It’s very heteronormative.”
April adds that many people seem to see polyamory as an uncomfortable threat to the status quo.
“Our kids are home educated and people are like,’ that’s not allowed,’ and you say ‘it is,’ then they say ‘well it shouldn’t be, because that’s not normal, and anything that’s not normal shouldn’t be allowed’,” she explains.
“All these tiny completely harmless unusual behaviours freak people out. I don’t think people think about it, it’s just not what people do. So with being polyamorous they’re like ‘argh cheating, promiscuity, sexual impropriety,’ because in this country I think people are still quite uptight about sex, and sex and morality are still very tangled up.
“In queer circles, relationships working differently is common. It’s common not to have the traditional family model and there’s a reason for that. It’s because the gender part is removed and the social expectations of the people in those gender roles no longer exist.”
Ultimately, polyamory is about choice.
There are a lot of pressures to follow certain routes in life, and rewards for doing so – from school to work, through family and social threads, to retirement. But more and more people are realising that those norms, from gender binaries to lifelong monogamy, may be what’s best for maintaining the status quo and existing power structures, but they’re not what’s best for them, even if that means losing some of the benefits of being part of the status quo.
Choice and change can be challenging – and they aren’t for everyone. But for many people, opening the door to a different way of managing their relationships is a key to a much more authentic and happier way of being.
“Generally in life, I don’t ever look at things and say ‘the way they are is the way they are because that’s the best thing,’ because there’s no reason to assume that it is the best thing and there’s absolutely no reason to think that things couldn’t be different, and relationships are no different,” says April.
“I look at how a lot of people live and think, ‘OK I don’t think that works for me,’ and quite often, to be honest, I think ‘that’s not really working for you either, you seem profoundly miserable.
“What if we did it differently?’”
* All names have been changed
- In Common is not for profit. We rely on donations from readers to keep the site running. Could you help to support us for as little as 25p a week? Please help us to carry on offering independent grass roots media. Visit: https://www.patreon.com/incommonsoton