For many people, monogamy is a way of life that does not fit into their personal beliefs or practices. These people engage in relationships and build romantic experiences with the idea that it is not only possible to love multiple partners, but that it is also the best fit for them. These people are widely referred to as “poly”, standing for polyamorous, and their unique approach to relationships has put them into a similarly exceptional situation as the world over locks down in an age of social distancing.
The basics of Polyamory
Recently, the dating experts at Datingroo examined polyamory lifestyles in an exclusive interview, exploring how polyamorous individuals explore the boundaries of their relationships, what kind of difficulties they may have, and what the benefits to a polyamorous relationship may be. As more people approach relationships in non-monogamous ways, these kind of ethical approaches to polyamorous relationships become more common.
For people like Zachary Zane, writing for Rolling Stone, Polyamory is a situation where one has many loves, and it demands a level of communication and socializing amongst all members of the polyamorous relationship that monogamous relationships don’t often experience. For people who are polyamorous, there can be primary partners with whom they share the most time, and there can be secondary partners.
Difficulties facing the poly community
But as Kari Paul discusses in her article for the Guardian, “For those who are polyamorous, meaning having intimate relationships with more than one partner, [the pandemic] has meant renegotiating fundamental aspects of their dating lives.” Social distancing has put an entire community of people who express themselves and their relationships via entirely social means.
This has translated into people who are polyamorous being forced to make difficult decisions about whether their livelihood could be maintained during these uncertain times, particularly if they would be forced to stick with sexual monogamy and cohabitation for the duration of the lockdown. It can be a difficult selection process for people whose intimacy and emotional framework is established on a foundation of networking, communication, and mobility.
For a community that demands its members be cautious with how they approach new partnerships to avoid the harmful spread of disease, they are finding the lockdown to be both extreme and resonant with how they already practice safety. Afterall, the worldwide discussion on the disclosure of one’s illness, general safety, and health precautions has brought everyone to the same mindset that many people in the polyamorous community reside in.
For a community that is so keenly aware of the necessity of an open dialogue that is honest about one’s personal health, the corona virus has taken this mindset and made it more common across the world.
At a time where everyone is facing the potential for cabin fever via the isolation of social distancing, romantic relationships and the like are facing stagnation. For those who are single and polyamorous, the situation has made it all but impossible for people to mingle in a way that helps them meet potential partners.
The health risks involved with mingling, especially given the highly virulent nature of Covid-19, ensures that polyamorous singles are left with little possibility to engage with other people in person for the foreseeable future. It also leaves polyamorous couples facing the difficulty of making choices about who they spend their lockdown with and how, which has the potential to cause friction between not just themselves and a partner, but several partners.
Solutions in the lockdown
Fortunately, people are creative when it comes to working around problems to find solutions, and the polyamory community has approached the lockdown situation with some first steps toward making the best of things.
For example, many polyamorous couples have switched their relationships into purely digital ones. This means that they video, chat, email, and even send pictures as a way to keep communication and their relationships alive. This does not mean that it is a perfect solution to the situation at hand, especially for those couples who must make hard decisions about who they bunk with during this time of crisis, but it is a start and it is better than nothing.
On top of this, many communities are making use of the plethora of streaming services available now for communicating en masse with groups of people, such as google’s Hangouts, Zoom, and the video streaming app GetVokl. These communities are throwing online meetings with up to one hundred people attending, allowing people to pair off for private videos and virtual dates. It is but one of the many ways that people are taking advantage of our digital age to keep these kinds of communities alive.
Of course, one of the most prominent ways for meeting people continues to be online dating, which always gave people better access to potential romantic partners locally and abroad. Although some people are turning away from actually dating at the moment, these online services offer a means to date someone virtually, giving people more opportunities to mingle, chat, meet friends, and even find romance in an age where people are starved for human interaction.
These solutions are helping the polyamory community stay afloat in a time of uncertainty and fear, and they are also entertaining people by giving them a way to socialize. Slowly, it is becoming the new norm for people to embrace finding relationships like this online. For people who are polyamorous, this means that they now approach their communities in new and inventive ways across the world.
People are communicative and social by nature, and despite the pandemic we remain so. For those who practice polyamory, this time of social distancing has been uniquely hard, but has encouraged alternative ways to engage in our social and romantic endeavors. It is hard to say, now, just what kind of changes we will see in our relationships around the world, but these creative solutions will hopefully have a positive influence for all communities, polyamorous and monogamous, on how we approach relationships.