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"The Rise of Polyamory"

on Thursday, 17 July 2014. Posted in Front Page Headline, Media Updates


By Melissa Pandika


Jen Day and her boyfriend of 11 years, Pepper Mint (yes, that’s his real name), live together with their cat in a whitewashed house on a narrow, leafy street in Berkeley, Calif. They kiss and nuzzle and have date nights, like any other couple.

Just not always with each other.

Day has another boyfriend. Mint has another girlfriend — and just began seeing two other women, too. The couple practice polyamory: They have multiple committed relationships at once, with the knowledge and consent of everyone involved.

Large-scale studies tracking the number of polyamorous (aka “poly”) individuals don’t exist, but evidence from polyamory groups, relationship therapists and dating websites suggests that figure is rising fast. University of Michigan psychologist Terri Conley estimates that 5 percent of Americans are involved in consensual non-monogamous relationships. As of last year, there’s even a poly social network, Kotango — it has 4,000 users so far.

Why are we embracing more than one partner? Skepticism of monogamy plays a part. Roughly 20 percent of U.S. marriages end in divorce.

“There’s a shaken belief” leading to “more openness to seeing what works rather than believing in some tradition,” says San Francisco clinical psychologist Deborah Anapol. And, in general, people have grown more open to alternative lifestyles.

Of course, it’s also possible that interest in polyamory has remained stable — but people just have more opportunity to take part. Thanks, Internet!

Still, the poly-curious should think hard before making the leap. Polyamory might sound like free love, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. Maintaining multiple healthy relationships takes McKinseyian time-management skills and grace dealing with jealousy. Skeptics worry about the welfare of children in polyamorous families. The stigma hasn’t quite worn off, either. ...

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