No, Polyamory Isn’t Just for Rich People

a black and white photo of a woman ostentatiously garbed in 1920's flapper attire
Image by sunshinecity / CC BY

It’s a criticism I hear fairly often of polyamory: Having multiple simultaneous romantic relationships is a classist idea. Some say polyamory is just for rich trust fund kids who have the scratch to go on twice, thrice, or four times as many dates.

It’s said that polyamory and other forms of consensual non-monogamy are inaccessible to all but the wealthiest among us.

And maybe it’s because I live in a rust belt city (Cleveland, Ohio) and not one of the West Coast poly meccas (e.g., San Fran, Seattle, Vancouver), but that depiction has never rung true to me. At all.

In reality, I know polyamorous folks from widely different economic backgrounds. Some are pretty dang broke:  A pack of younguns with minimum wage entry level hustles and irregular hours. A single mother with a special needs kid. A veritable army of grad students and adjuncts (first generation college students) who count every last penny of their money.

You Don’t Have to Be Rich to Be Polyamorous

No, not all poly parties are like something out of the Great Gatsby. And when it comes to dates, not everyone is springing for drinks and tapas at the piano bar. Avocado toast for four at brunch three times a week.

Many poly folks of modest means opt for low or no cost dates. Meeting up for coffee. Walking through the park. Netflix and cooking dinner at home. And when they do hit things off and become entangled, living in a vee, triad, quad, or larger web actually allows them be more financially stable than they otherwise would be, trying to subsist on two incomes.

True, I know some middle class poly folks — and a few who even have a bit of extra money to play with. But a lot of the poly people I know are just getting by.  And instead of polyamory being something that places an unnecessary drain on their finances, living collectively is actually a source of stability and support. One that they wouldn’t have if they were living single or partnered monogamously.

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1 Comment

  1. It’s interesting that people come to think of polyamory as something for the rich. It says something about the effectiveness of the elite’s ideological work. I know that one of the founders of the Oneida movement ascribed to communistic theory and viewed polyamory as a counter to the individualism that thrives under capitalism.

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