How Polygamy and Polyamory Have Been Normalized Post-Pandemic

Aug 23 '2021, 10:12 AM | By Chris

When the COVID-19 pandemic began last March, people had no idea how much their lives were about to change. We don’t just mean wearing masks and working from home, either - quarantining alone with one other person was enough to bring a lot of monogamous relationships to an end. Due to the pandemic's exposure of the flaws in traditional marriage, several people have turned to polyamory and polygamy to suit their needs.

Society's perception of poly dating has already evolved significantly since Sister Wives debuted on TLC. What was once largely dismissed as an "alternative lifestyle" and/or a “loophole to cheat” is now being viewed as a viable way of life. This acceptance is partly due to increased awareness created from social media. Things such as Jada Pinkett Smith's Facebook Watch show Red Table Talk, which recently aired an episode on the subject of polyamory that garnered 4.3 million views, the poly subreddit with 200k members and growing, and content creators on platforms such as YouTube and TikTok who create content that follows the everyday life of being in a poly relationship. 

So, why is this happening? Ross Dawson, a futurist and co-author of the 2016 Future of Sex report, feels that the pandemic simply accelerated pre-existing patterns and trends that existed going into the pandemic. People who may have been interested in pursuing polygamy or polyamory before the pandemic are now more likely to pursue things that were once out of their comfort zones. After over a year of social distancing and near solitude, people are pursuing any and all outlets that can provide pleasure - not just sexually, but mentally and emotionally, too. Plus, seeing how fast the world changed last year, many are choosing to live exactly how they want without fear of judgment in order to make the most of the time they spend living their lives. 

There’s also an increased need and prioritization of finding something new and exciting. That’s why online dating is popular: There’s always someone new to interact with. Sometimes, craving something new is a desire born out of pure boredom. However, sometimes that desire comes when something just isn’t working anymore. The pandemic provided the ideal opportunity to expose and intensify the flaws of traditional marriage: Namely, the fact that running a household, raising kids, maintaining careers, and paying the bills can feel like a workload that’s just too big for two people. 

Add in trying to do that with someone you’re in a relationship with while trying to still feel like you’re in a relationship with them. Being able to ensure that everything goes properly in the family and that adults get ample time away from the children - whether together or alone - was a bigger struggle than ever thanks to remote working and learning. All of this can deplete anyone's passion, making the prospect of a third partner - or more - sound not just thrilling, but comforting as well. 

All of that is to say, extended time together made a lot of couples realize their needs weren’t being met. So much so that many felt they were hitting a breaking point. It makes sense that when life got harder on everyone, more and more people started to feel like they had almost earned the right to pursue things that would make their lives more fulfilling. Especially those who either divorced or almost divorced: What’s the worst that could happen at this point? We’ve all lived through a year of losing loved ones, jobs, savings, etc. Once you’ve lived through this kind of unexpected hurt and loss, it often removes the fear surrounding getting hurt again. 

Plus, going back to the need for connection, people are realizing that they might actually communicate better in non-monogamous relationships than monogamous ones. Polygamists and polyamorous families have had to learn how to be really thorough, honest communicators with one another in order to make the relationship work. That level of consideration and transparency is often a much-welcomed change to a formerly monogamous person. 

Many people’s biggest fear in a traditional relationship is that they’re being cheated on, and many of the biggest problems traditional couples face revolve around a lack of communication, honesty, and/or trust. So when they begin poly dating and experience this new communication style that really promotes mutual respect and trust, it really breaks down barriers that the person may not have been able to break down because they didn’t have that with their previous partners. The more people feel they can trust their partner, the more vulnerable they allow themselves to be, which results in a deeper connection than they’ve felt in a long time, or ever. 

To understand the bigger picture, the concept of marriage as a whole has evolved a lot, too. The rise of platonic marriages is another trend that has been accelerated by the pandemic. More and more people are marrying someone with who they have good companionship that would be a good partner, but have their own respective rooms and sex lives. This is relevant because the further society moves away from the traditional lens it views marriage in, the less room they have to not allow polygamous and polyamorous people the same rights as everyone else. 

Polygamy is practiced by up to 60,000 persons in the United States. Even though they’re U.S. citizens, polygamists encounter a slew of legal obstacles, impacting inheritance, hospital visits, parentage rights, and taxes. For example, if a sister wife who isn’t legally married to their spouse files for assistance as a single parent, they’re considered dishonest or even accused of committing welfare fraud, but if they file their taxes jointly then they’re breaking the law, too. 

We say this information not to scare people new to the practice, but to point out that there are fundamental flaws in the illegality of poly lifestyles that will have to be addressed as more and more people identify as polyamorous or polygamist. Seeing so many people join and be embraced by the poly community has been heartwarming and instilled a lot of hope that change is around the corner. And, it’s no surprise that after spending months in isolation, people are realizing that sometimes more really is more when it comes to love!

Published By: Christopher Alesich 

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