It’s been interesting, the past decade. Polyamory went from being a relatively obscure term, something that was only discussed in low-tech ancient discussion groups that looked basically like .txt files posted by a few obsessive outliers, to being covered by major news outlets. (The history of this emergence is well covered by Alan M’s blog Polyamory in the News)
While people disagree on whether consensual non-monogamy has caught on as a practice during that time (some people say no, although the most empirically rigorous public attitude surveys do show increases, although the exact size varies depending on the study), one thing is clear: People are definitely more aware of polyamory than they were a decade ago.
Some people are frankly sick of it, comparing polyamory to something obnoxious that others are into. Placing it into a pantheon with raw vegan diets, CrossFit, juice fasting, etc. You know. Interests that people have fanatical devotion to and won’t stop talking about or whatever. Even if no one around them is into it.
I guess that’s a fair comparison. Although it’s strange to think of how one manages important relationships as analogous to a hobby. Sometimes I think this manner of criticism belies a superficial, transactional attitude towards relationships in the critic and a resultant projection of that schema onto others.
But what do I know? Or as Kermit would say, “But that’s none of my business.” Pass the tea, please. Sip, sip.
Anyway, I’m not offended by those comparisons. I find them rather funny. And in my own case, it’s rather hard to take them personally. Especially since I’m more ambiamorous than polyamorous per se. This means that I am about equally happy being monogamous or non-monogamous, provided that the people involved are good for me and the relationships are healthy.
So maybe it’s like I dabble in raw vegan diets. Hard to be sanctimonious about it, in any event.
There’s Definitely Been an Increase in Public Awareness of Polyamory
But there’s definitely been an increase in public awareness of polyamory. And there’s a sense now more than ever that there are a lot of us. More than people initially realized. It’s not just a few odd people off in a corner somewhere practicing the lifestyle while everyone else pretends that they don’t exist.
There are an awful lot of people who are either polyamorous, ambiamorous, or generally supportive of polyamorous relationships. Frankly, more than I would have guessed. I really did think there weren’t very many of us. As of this writing, over 120,000 people are following the Poly Land page on Facebook.
Approximately a third of Poly Land’s readers are monogamous, but even monogamous readers fall into that third category of people who are generally supportive of polyamorous relationships or even are somewhat curious about them. (Sometimes morbidly curious, other times interested in polyamory but not having a partner or partners who are.)
If you had told me five years ago that over 100,000 people would publicly follow a polyamory-themed page, I would have thought you were full of it. But here we are.
Why I Post Every Day
When I first started exploring all of this about a decade ago, I was spurred on by the sudden discovery that people I greatly respected had an open marriage and had been secretly having polyamorous relationships with others for years. Back then, there was none of this. No evidence of a large community. No media coverage. Really no suggestion that this was a viable way to conduct oneself. Aside from a few anonymous whispers on clunky forums. Ones that looked like they could just as well be completely made up accounts. Easily fabricated.
And there was certainly no one posting public articles daily as I am now.
There were some blogs here and there. But they were often tough to find. Always anonymous. And sporadic.
That’s a large reason why I persist in writing and putting something out every day, even after three solid years of doing it. Because I would have done anything to have an uninterrupted voice in what seemed like a void. A polyamorous pen pal, if you will. Someone I wasn’t dating and whose life didn’t directly affect my own. But whose life was always there as a sign that people were living this way. More or less successfully. (I’m only human.)
That was the thing. I would often find voices online in small blogs, remote corners of the Internet. Begin to read them faithfully. Only to have them precipitously drop off as the author ceased writing. (And often delete the blog later so I couldn’t access what they had written later on.)
I would have given anything to have even one person writing consistently about the issues I was grappling with. It didn’t matter so much what they were even saying on any given day. What was important was that they were still there. They were microscopic evidence of a community, one I could infer and perhaps even extrapolate from the confirmed existence of another individual.
I didn’t have them. I never got this. So instead I became this. Later on, when I got my own bearings, I became that person I wished I had.
The Presence of a Community Is Reassuring
It’s what gets me through the hard days. Days when I don’t know what the heck to even write about (since some days and weeks are like that, uninspiring). When I’m sick of the sound of my own narrative voice (which I assure you, happens).
I remind myself how important community is. How the very existence of it is extremely powerful. How reassuring the presence of other voices can be, regardless of what they’re even saying.
That there’s power in simply showing up and checking in. Letting others know that I’m still here. Present and accounted for. Still doing my thing.
And even if I’m not sure of what I’m doing, I speak up.