I recently stumbled across a post from Poly Talk called “Is Solo Polyamory Ableist?”
In the piece, Codi Coday asserts that solo polyamory as a relationship style is inaccessible and ableist, i.e., that it is discriminatory against individuals who are not able-bodied.
Quite a statement.
I wasn’t quite sure what to make of it, so I dropped the link on Fluffy and LH in our group chat and then wandered off to do dishes and get dinner ready in the slow cooker. I figured they’d have a better read on it than I would.
LH has been solo poly and acquainted with that culture for quite some time. And Fluffy? They’re an academic well acquainted with systemic discrimination as a field of study (and a relationship anarchist who has spent most of their time unpartnered, basically a spitting distance away from solo poly).
Here is what they said.
Is Solo Polyamory Ableist?: A Discussion
Fluffy: Not wanting to be expected to be another person’s caretaker is about as ableist as being asexual.
LH: I’m still in the solo poly groups, and one of the most outspoken solo poly people is a disabled woman of color. She wants nothing from anybody and she does not take anybody’s shit. Her metamour tries to upstage her time with her partner sometimes, and at one point she put her foot down and told him she expects him to stand up for their relationship, and he did!
She expects consideration for her disability, but she does not expect that he will be her caretaker.
Reading the article, it sounds like saltiness from the author that she’s having trouble finding partners and blaming it on solo poly.
Yeah, there are parts of the identity that she can’t access because she has to intermingle finances, and she has to get insurance by marrying her partner. But mostly solo poly is about not making room for other people’s expectations to define the role that relationships can go in.
Codi Coday writes:
So is solo polyamory on the whole ableist? No, but too much of the discussions and attitudes are. Not everyone can afford to or safely live alone. Not everyone can be financially independent. And not everyone can stay unwed. Putting so much emphasis on living alone, independent finances, and not getting married as a part of solo polyamory means excluding people with disabilities and other marginalized groups. It means that not everyone who wants to be solo poly is able to.
Rock climbing is completely inaccessible to me due to my disabilities. Does that mean people who rock climb are ableist?
I get annoyed by discussions like this because to me Relationship Anarchy and solo poly exist on different sides of a very fine line.
And she acts like solo poly is morally superior and she’s “forced” into Relationship Anarchy when here I’m like “this is what I choose…”
LH: Here is what I don’t get: Why the fuck is she trying to force herself into a relationship style that doesn’t work for her?
Fluffy: RIGHT! If I said monogamy is ableist because I can’t access it due to my mental health and other issues (which is kinda my case) then people would scream. (Poly and mono both, I’d imagine).
When the reality is “hey, this isn’t something I can do therefore I… shouldn’t do it?”
And the societal emphasis or expectation of it has its own name and context.
LH: I think the article should be “Dating is Hard Because PEOPLE Are Ableist,” which would absolutely be true.
Fluffy: When it comes to solo poly, about the only people touting it or saying it’s good are those who, y’know, participate in it. It gets a lot of shit from everyone else, even in poly communities.
LH: Yeah, like, I think for a while the allure of it was that it lessened my chances of being controlled by people like my ex or my mother, but I actually want different things for my life now.
And I 100% get that other solo poly people don’t.
Fluffy: Well, and, like, people get to decide what they’re up for with regard to romantic relationship.
This really does remind me of folks claiming it’s acephobia to not date if sex is not involved. There’s this peculiar entitlement to the time and regard of other people, and we ignore the fact that who we want to date is not necessarily who wants to date us and that’s okay. We forget that when an individual is talking about their needs and interests that they’re not taking into account who wants to date them, but rather who they want to date. There’s a (good) argument available here I think Codi ignores that’d refocus it at a systemic instead of individual question… but, well, they ignore it.
But yeah, I’m not going to date someone who’s not going to fuck me. And it’s on the same level as I’m not going to date someone who’s going to expect me to prioritize them over, say, school or other aspects of my life (right away and maybe ever).
Can’t, won’t, don’t want to.
That significantly reduces the pool of people willing to date me as much as the pool people I’m willing to date.
LH: I won’t date people who won’t have sex, who aren’t into kink, and who won’t consider our relationship a full and valid one.
I don’t want to be someone’s occasional “person.” I want partners right now.
Fluffy: I think a lot of it ends up being people conflating systemic impact with interpersonal.
“Solo poly is ableist!” is ridiculous on its face. It has no systemic impact on disabled people (even folks who can’t live alone and who don’t want to get married). “Polyamory as a system is classist and often racist/misogynoiristic” are both things that are true because it’s talking about the systemic, not the interpersonal, impacts of parts of it.
What Do You Think? Do You Think Solo Polyamory Is Ableist?
Thanks, Fluffy and LH! I appreciate your perspectives.
I turn the question to you, the readers. What do YOU think?
Do you think solo polyamory is ableist? Why or why not?
Editorial Note: Poly Land likes and reads Poly Talk’s blog and found the question thought-provoking.