Online-dating behemoth OkCupid is adding a feature tailor-made for polyamorous people. The new setting, which became available for some beta users in December, allows users who are listed as “seeing someone,” “married,” or “in an open relationship” on the platform to link their profiles and search for other people to join their relationship. It will be rolled out to all users on Friday.
A screenshot of the new feature obtained by The Atlantic shows a stock photo of a sample user listed as “in an open relationship” with another, whose profile is linked below his.
The move comes in response to a rapid uptick in the number of OkCupid users interested in non-monogamous relationships. According to the company’s data, 24 percent of its users are “seriously interested” in group sex. Forty-two percent would consider dating someone already involved in an open or polyamorous relationship. Both numbers represent increases of 8 percentage points from five years ago. The number of people who say they are solely committed to monogamy, meanwhile, has fallen to a minority of all users, 44 percent, down from 56 percent in 2010.
“It seems that now people are more open to polyamory as a concept,” said Jimena Almendares, OkCupid’s chief product officer.
From the pages of Time magazine to the rules of the new “Fallout” game, polyamory seems suddenly to be everywhere — and very present in the public consciousness.
When the Supreme Court extended marriage equality to same-sex couples in all 50 states, Fox News anchor Martha MacCallum mused that same-sex marriage might soon lead to marriages of three people or more. Polyamory.
Also known as “consensual non-monogamy,” polyamory comes in a number of flavors, including swinging, polyfidelity, open relationships, and relationship anarchy. It is sometimes lumped in with polygamy — a tradition of husbands taking on multiple wives, practiced in many parts of the Muslim world and by some Mormon offshoots — especially by outsiders with only a glancing familiarity with the subject. But practitioners of both systems tend to see themselves as quite distinct, even if the general public does not.
Now the recent marriage of three women in Brazil has some activists wondering, “Is polyamory next?”
Exact numbers for individuals practicing non-monogamy can be maddeningly hard to come by. But most researchers estimate that a full 4–5 percent of Americans participate in some form of ethical non-monogamy. In her Psychology Today blog post on May 9, 2014, Elisabeth Sheff relates the findings of independent Australian academic Kelly Cookson:
“It appears that sexually non-monogamous couples in the United States number in the millions. Estimates based on actually trying sexual non-monogamy are around 1.2 to 2.4 million. An estimate based solely on the agreement to allow satellite lovers is around 9.8 million. These millions include poly couples, swinging couples, gay male couples, and other sexually non-monogamous couples.”
Who they are may surprise you.
A 2012 survey of 4,062 poly-identified individuals ages 16 to 92 conducted by Loving More — a polyamory support and advocacy organization — found a number of interesting data points.
There are more women than men: Essentially half of the respondents (49.5 percent) identified as female, while only 35.4 percent identified as male. The remaining 15.1 percent either declined to choose between male and female or wrote in “third” genders such as two-spirit and genderqueer.
The survey didn’t ask respondents to state their sexual orientation, but about half of the female respondents and about a fifth of the male respondents were actively bisexual, having had sex with both men and women within the preceding 12 months. When compared with the general population — by way of the biennial General Social Survey (GSS) — the self-identified poly population was slightly, but significantly, happier than the general population, and better educated.
At least 25.8 percent of those taking the survey, however, had personally experienced discrimination because of their lifestyle.
But the data from a March 2015 Gallup poll clearly shows a growing tolerance for relationships and situations outside the bounds of traditional monogamous marriage.
Compared with similar data collected by Gallup in 2001 and 2002, there has been a 15 percent growth in those who view sex between an unmarried man and woman as morally acceptable, and an increase of 16 percent in the acceptability of having a baby out of wedlock. Acceptance of divorce is up 12 percent. And tolerance for “polygamy” is up to 16 percent, which may not seem like much, but it’s more than twice the 7 percent who found it to be morally acceptable in 2001. Support for each of these indicators is at an all-time high.
In the court of public opinion, however, not all consensual non-monogamous relationships are created equal. A paper published online in September 2013 in the journal Psychology & Sexuality found that those in polyamorous relationships are seen in a more positive light than either swingers or those in open relationships. In 13 different areas there were significant perceived differences between the three consensual non-monogamy strategies under scrutiny. Those in polyamorous relationships were regarded as more moral, more motivated by duty (rather than pleasure), and more family-oriented than swingers and those in open ...
The depiction of BDSM in popular films suffered a blow from which it will not easily recover with the release of Fifty Shades of Gray. While it was unfortunately many people’s introduction to the topic, bloggers from all corners of the internet have derided the relationship pictured in Fifty Shades for what it really is: abuse masquerading as kink. But twenty-four years ago, a family comedy centered on a couple who liked to torture each other for pleasure gave audiences a much healthier glimpse at BDSM.
Netflix describes the movie as “Stepping out of the pages of Charles Addams’ cartoons and the 1960s television series, members of the beloved, macabre family take it to the big screen.” Some scenes from the 1991 film The Addams Family are indeed straight out of the Charles Addams comic on which it's based, like when the family douses a group of Christmas carolers with a cauldron full of steaming liquid. Others — like Morticia trimming the heads off of roses to arrange the stems in a vase — are exact recreations of the ‘60s TV series.
But what separates the film from the Family’s earlier iterations (besides, you know, colour) is the reciprocal nature of Gomez and Morticia’s relationship. The tired and offensive trope of an uninterested woman pursued by a lascivious man has appeared over and over again since the advent of television, and though Gomez and Morticia always exhibited a love and respect for each other stronger than nearly all TV couples, even the ‘60s version of Morticia had to rein Gomez in from time to time. Obviously this has a lot to do with the media mores of the time… but unfortunately, those sentiments still prevail today. And that’s why the The Addams Family film is so unique in its depiction of relationships.
The Addams’ lawyer Tully and his wife Margaret exemplify a sadly more familiar and cynical marriage: two people who ostensibly can’t stand each other but feel forced to stay together. The loathing is definitely mutual: when Margaret asks rhetorically, “Why did I marry you?” Tully responds, “Because I said yes!” The “unhappily married” cliché exists to varying degrees in most American media, to the point where Gomez and Morticia’s contrasting relationship is noteworthy.
The Addams constantly become enrapt with each other, getting sidetracked by each other’s allure, recalling their first meeting fondly, waltzing presumably numerous times a day. Morticia’s first lines of the movie, as the ever-present ghostly light with seemingly no source illuminates her eyes, describe Gomez’s sexual behaviour the night before: “Last night you were unhinged. You were like some desperate howling demon. You frightened me.” The camera zooms closer while she adds: “Do it again.” That’s right: the very first lines between the couple aren’t just a rare example of a man and woman who have been married for some time who can actually stand to be around each other. These lines, and the couple themselves, are an example of consensual BDSM. ...
The year 2015 was a landmark one for same-sex couples in America—the Supreme Court made marriage equality the law of the land, and even before the decision, some 390,000 gay couples had already gotten hitched in states like Massachusetts and New York. The Washington Post projected that number would increase nationwide to 500,000 by the end of the year.
What makes these newly married couples unique is more than their gender. Surveys indicate that a high percentage of same-sex relationships—particularly among queer men—are non-monogamous, and often even after marriage.
Over the past decade and a half, studies from San Francisco State University and Alliant International University have found that around half of gay relationships are open. This rate is considerably higher than for heterosexual and lesbian couples, but it’s difficult to say by how much exactly, due to the widespread lack of substantive research on the subject. (After all, SFSU’s Gay Couples Study was back in 2010.)
Conservative estimates suggest that less than 1 percent of all married couples are in an open relationship, but other approximations are much higher. Back in 1983, the authors of American Couples, Phillip Blumstein and Pepper Schwartz, found that around 15 percent of committed partners—whether homo or heterosexual—had agreements that allowed for some degree of flexibility.
Writer and sex columnist Dan Savage famously described these arrangements as “monogamish”—“mostly monogamous, not swingers, not actively looking.” And even more couples are in them than you think. I’d say that the Alliant and SFU figures are a tad low, at least for gays. I can’t speak for lesbian couples, but few queer men I know—including myself—are in relationships that are exclusively, 100-percent monogamous. Some couples occasionally invite a third into the bedroom for a night of play, while others independently arrange their own casual hookups. Some men might even have long-term partners outside their primary relationship.
In a 2013 column for Slate, Hanna Rosin called non-monogamy the gay community’s “dirty little secret,” citing a study from the ’80s, which showed that up to 82 percent of gay couples had sex with other people. That number sounds about right to me, but here’s the thing: It’s not dirty and it’s hardly a secret, at least if you know where to look.
Monogamish couples are a constant presence on apps like Grindr and Scruff, which allow gay men to connect with other men to chat or hook up. Users commonly describe themselves as “dating,” “in an open relationship,” “partnered,” or “married,” while others set up an account with their partner if they’re looking to play together.
I spoke to one couple that hasn’t let marriage get in the way of their Scruff account. Eric, 34, and Martin, 33, walked down the aisle last October after dating for five years. Like many gay couples, they were initially monogamous, although with “infrequent and informal” exceptions. “Think post-bar bathhouse outings,” Eric explained. But after creating a profile together on Scruff a few years ago, the couple agreed on a set of boundaries. “We only sleep with people together, we have to both communicate with the person to some extent before we meet up, and the guy has to very clearly be attracted to both of us,” Eric said.
Like nearly everyone I spoke to, the pair had few gay friends that were in monogamous relationships, and Martin believes it’s because there are fewer rules and expectations around gay relationships. “I think we don’t have heteronormative templates that we have to subscribe to,” Martin said. “There’s just not that same kind of pressure to be monogamous when you’re gay.” ...
Lightsabers aren't just for defending the galaxy; when used correctly (with a safe word), they can provide hours of sexy fun. Etsy seller Geek Kink turns to lightsabers and other trappings of the Star Wars universe to create enough whips, restraints, and paddles to keep BDSM aficionados sore and still through the entire saga.
Geek Kink doesn't trade just in Star Wars sex toys. The shop also sells TARDIS-handled canes, Harley Quinn restraints, and enough My Little Pony tail-shaped paddles to swat the bums of a small, horse-loving army.
Remember stories from the 60s and 70s, when couples went to parties and put their house keys in a punch bowl? The person's keys you drew at the end of the night was the person you went home with.
Few people know this, but swinging as a fad in America actually began in the 1950s with Air Force officers in California swapping wives. Today, though, in clubs and private homes in London, Paris, New York, and many other places, the swinger trend has reemerged. Nightline, ABC News, The Daily Mail and plenty of other media outlets have covered it. Some participants are bored, middle-aged couples trying to revitalize their sex lives. Others are young, sophisticated urbanites looking for a weekend thrill and a way to blow off steam after a stressful work week.
Times have certainly changed since the 60s Sexual Revolution! What was once extremely taboo and only took place behind closed doors now has a website, and researchers are noticing a shift towards younger generations. Once, swingers were generally 35+, but that's changing. Today's 20- and 30-somethings are marrying later and are taking their liberated dating habits into marriage. It's not surprising that they are also more apt to take part in zestier enterprises once there, lacking the urge for secrecy and guilt the older generation faced.
Gen X and Millennials are interpreting monogamy in an entirely new way these days. What's more, women seem to be the ones driving the most recent swinging fad, calling the shots and being choosy with their partners.
So should you try swinging?
That's entirely up to you, your partner, and your shared interpretation of your relationship. Some people can't stand the idea of their lover with someone else. Others find nothing hotter. There are women who allow their partner to kiss and touch other partners, but still keep sex off-limits. Others allow kissing, touching and oral sex, but no penetration. Some couples allow freebies during business trips or when one partner is more than 20 miles away from home. Then, of course, there are plenty of "no holds barred" couples as well. There are endless variations and combinations. Some couples don't want to know anything about the other's escapades; others want to know every detail. Swingers are just as varied and individual as any like-minded group of people, and it all comes down to individual preferences that have been clearly communicated between committed partners.
So how can you get into swinging?
If this is a conversation you've never had with your partner, try to feel them out first with indirect questions and casual conversation. Be subtle at first. Suggest a movie or book where swinging takes place and is portrayed positively, and then see how they react. Then sometime later discuss it with them, and don't just make it sound like you're looking for some guilt-free cheating. Tell them what excites you and turns you on about it, and ask if it excites them too. ...
When *** was handwritten on books and periodicals in the New York Public Library’s permanent collection, it meant one thing: supervision required.
The triple-star code, created some time in the first part of the 20th century, identified the printed works that were considered too hot for the general reader to handle.
Playboy was once classified with a triple star. So were raunchy pulp novels, fliers for Times Square massage parlors, business cards offering phone sex for $2 a minute, even playing cards with illustrations of naked women.
For decades, they were kept in locked cages, accessible only with special permission and viewed in a small, secured area in the main research library.
More recently, hundreds of works that make up the triple-star collection have been liberated from the restricted controls. An adult with a library card can simply fill out a request and peruse the material on the premises. (The library maintains a filter system to restrict access to erotic materials on the Internet.)
“Erotica was not something we were particularly going after, but we needed to collect life as it was lived,” said Jason Baumann, a collections curator. “We needed to understand and document for history what the city of New York was like. That meant collecting the good and the bad. It was always part of our mandate.”
The triple-star collection is a miniature version of the vast archive of erotica at France’s National Library. That collection, called “L’Enfer” (“Hell”), dates from the 19th century, when the library, in Paris, isolated any work considered “contrary to good morals.” In 2008, the National Library mounted its first major exhibition of highlights from the collection. It drew record crowds; no one under 16 was admitted.
The New York Public Library, by contrast, has never had a similar exhibition. The materials are not as rich, and the standards of what is considered proper for an exhibition in a public institution differ in France from those in the United States.
And unlike France’s National Library, whose sexually explicit material is contained in one archive, only a part of the Public Library’s erotica was designated triple star. The rest is dispersed in other collections in the building, including in the Berg Collection of English and American Literature (rare books and manuscripts) and the Spencer Collection (artists’ books and illuminated manuscripts).
A guided visit to the library revealed some of the richness of its erotic (or pornographic, depending on who was doing the classification) material. The works are hidden treasures, many of them awaiting discovery. Not even the curators and librarians know everything that is there.
“There were many materials in the library’s special collections that I had never seen before,” Mr. Baumann said. “The range and depth of our collections never ceases to astonish me.”
The main building of the Public Library had such an impact on the neighborhood that there was once a massage parlor a block away on West 43rd Street named the Library. A 1976 flier in the *** collection advertised its $10, tip-included service, with “7 Beautiful Librarians to Service You.” The flier shows a longhaired “librarian” dressed in a necklace and high heels. A large bunch of feathers covers her private parts. ...
Bob Dylan had it right when he said "The times they are a changing." While a few decades ago the idea of a polyamorous relationship may have been largely unheard of, more Americans than ever are accepting of the practice (although a majority still oppose it) and psychologists estimate that up to 5% of Americans are in consensual, poly relationships.
This is potentially for good reason. A recent study published in The Archives of Sexual Behavior is perhaps providing further proof that less traditional configurations of love and sexuality may have some benefits we hadn't yet considered.
The study, which compared "mate retention behaviors" between monogamous and consensually non-monogamous (CNM) couples discovered that when it came to satisfaction with the primary partner, both types of relationships reported equal levels of happiness.
But non-monogamous couples did express a notable difference in one key area: communication. According to the study, "...Monogamous participants reported less satisfaction with the amount of communication and openness they had with their partner compared to CNM participants’ reports of their primary partner." Despite the idea of "sharing everything" with your partner, polyamorous couples tend to be more open and sharing than their monogamous counterparts. I guess communication really is that important. ...