Polyamory’s cultural moment

By K

C and I first discussed polyamory (though we didn’t know what it was called at the time) sitting next to the ocean on our honeymoon. C had brought along a book from the The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series. While discussing what we each were reading, he explained the non-monogamous relationship the main character had been a part of for more than 20 years, a relationship known about by all parties. Something pinged in my brain because I had felt things for other people over the years. Though the details are fuzzy all these years later, we ended up having a theoretical discussion about how the story in the book made sense. I remember saying something like “If I have some sort of relationship with someone else, it would never reduce the amount of love I feel for you.” C agreed.

There wasn’t much media that touched on polyamory then. There is a lot more now. There are stories in New York Times Magazine, on NPR, the BBC. There are books. TV shows. There are people coming out to their friends. It makes me wonder if there are couples who are now like we were sitting on that beach. Something sparks a conversation. Wheels start turning. Life is examined. We just sort of assume we’re supposed to travel through life a particular way. The way everyone else is doing it. But by examining the stories of others, new theories can start to take shape. And it may take years to marinate (it was more than 7 years before either of us did anything beyond have conversations about it), but maybe other couples’ sparks can be traced back to this cultural moment polyamory is having.

I’ve heard Dan Savage say polyamorists are socially where gay people were in the 80s. We’re behind a curtain. It was when people started coming out that they gained acceptance. I have no idea what will happen to the community at large, but it’s interesting to think about how media and our individual networks might influence the future of nonmonogamy.

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