- Caitlin Hart
Polyamory - Addressing the Misconceptions
© Illustration by INJECTION - Alicia Lupieri
INJECTION Magazine explores the stigma surrounding polyamory and sets the record straight.
Polyamory is a type of non-monogamous relationship where partners may have multiple romantic relationships at the same time. There are no set rules to polyamorous relationships or any specific way to be a part of one, it all depends on communication between partners and agreements on how they want their relationship to work. This means that polyamorous relationships can all look different; sometimes both partners may date other people, both partners may date the same person, or sometimes just one partner may date somebody else.
Despite 5% of people in the U.S being polyamorous, there is still a huge amount of stigma around polyamory. Monogamy is seen as the default which means that polyamorous relationships are often questioned or reacted to negatively.
This stigma and misconceptions are often unfair, untrue and harmful to those in polyamorous relationships. Sarah, Ryan and Ronnie are in a polyamorous relationship. Sarah and Ryan have been together for 11 years whilst Ronnie joined the relationship last year.
INJECTION Magazine spoke to them about their experiences of polyamory and the misconceptions they face.
Misconception: Polyamory is just having sex with multiple people.
Ronnie: “I think the biggest stigma I’ve encountered personally is that we are often viewed as ‘swingers’ or polyamory is used as a justification to be selfishly promiscuous. In reality, polyamory itself can’t be reduced to anything more than an ethically non-monogamous relationship dynamic based on trust, love and connection. It’s truly not about sex. Although sex is usually a part of the equation, it’s how humans connect physically and emotionally in a relationship.”
Sarah: “Polyamory isn’t just about sex. It’s about being free to find love again and again without having to deny it just because you’re already in love with your partner.”
Ryan: “People who don’t get poly assume that everyone ‘plays’ with everyone. Ronnie and I get along pretty good but we don’t interact in the bedroom and don’t have a physical relationship.”
Misconception: Polyamory is weird or unnatural.
Ronnie: “Nothing could be further from the truth. Polyamory is natural and much more prevalent than most people realise. We find it not only in a variety of species but within many cultures of humans.
“Our relationship is actually very normal and if someone were to see us in everyday life they would see that. They would see all the same conversations, child-rearing struggles, and family experiences a monogamous dynamic has. We work jobs, shop for food, cook meals and eat as a family. Everything is very normal, other than the number of people involved in the relationship itself.”
Misconception: Polyamory is used to fix failing relationships.
Ryan: “Poly isn’t a quick fix for failing relationships. It’s confusing and difficult. Communication is key and even people within the poly community constantly trip up. You’ll never see anyone in mainstream media take the time to talk about the complexities of poly. It’ll always be seen in a negative light because the media lie about it.
Sarah: “People seem to believe that I don’t think Ryan is enough or that he is pressured into ‘letting’ me have a boyfriend. I don’t need more than one partner, but I enjoy more than one partner. I could have lived the rest of my life very happily with just Ryan.”
Misconception: There is one set way to be polyamorous.
Ryan: “Poly relationships are different for every polycule. Different relationships do different things for all involved.
Sarah: “Polyamory isn’t just a lifestyle, but it is a part of some people’s identity. I believe that I am polyamorous and that I have always been so. Even if I was practising monogamy, I would still be a polyamorous person. On the flip side, there are people who practice polyamory who don’t feel that way.”