For those who grew up in the age of the iPhone, dating has changed a lot. Apps are bringing people closer together and, with a wealth of knowledge available at the tap of a finger, today’s youth are more tuned in than ever. With a growing rejection of the gender binary and an increasing acceptance of LGBTQ folks, it’s not surprising that Gen Zs are challenging the patriarchy through their dating practices. For people who are looking for more than a possessive one-on-one relationship there’s polyamory, today’s updated version of “free love.”
What is Polyamory?
Polyamory is the reigning authority over all monogamish relationships. Reserved for only the most secure, it enables folks to love freely, forming relationships (sexual, emotional or both) with a multitude of people. Everything goes! Unlike swinging or other open relationships that are often described as “monogamy plus”, polyamory is defined by the absence of rules. Instead of telling your partners what they can and can’t do (and vice versa) all parties involved are free agents.
In Morgan Potts’ essay “Polyamory as a Rejection of Capitalism” they suggest that “ethical non-monogamy” not only guarantees the “romantic and sexual autonomy of every person” but also emphasizes the importance of the individual over a pair or a group. To be polyamorous you have to first be secure with yourself. No relationship lasts forever.
Polyamory isn’t new, but the practice has been overshadowed thanks to gender roles that favor nuclear familial relationships and hypothetical everlasting love. While millennials might have been the first generation to deal with the so-called divorce epidemic, today’s youth have been raised in an era where “till death do us part” is no longer realistic. Known for their optimism and go-getter attitudes, Gen Z’ers are the perfect people to lead the path to polyamory.
How Does Polyamory Work?
Having a relationship with a bunch of different people at once can definitely create logistical problems. They key is to figure out the terms of your arrangement—if there are any. The most liberal poly folks might not have any limits on their relationships, while others stick to a few hard rules (e.g. the weekends are just for us). Some people use the guise of a monogamish relationship to do shitty things—not everyone wants a partner sleeping with their best friend. Others are able to manage their jealousy.
Like any relationship (in this case, ships), polyamory takes work. You have to be upfront about your feelings and honest about what’s happening in your life in order to have healthy relationships. Communication is key.
Compersion: The Opposite of Jealousy
Even poly people get jealous from time to time, but there is an antidote: compersion. A central tenet of polyamory, compersion is the act of taking pleasure in someone else’s enjoyment. That means that when one of your partners tells you about a new relationship or a hot date, you can be happy for them instead of envious. It might be hard to imagine getting turned on by a partner sleeping with someone else—but trust me, it can be pretty hot!
Playing the Feeld
We still have a long way to go until non-monogamy is the norm, and even the some of the most liberal-minded people struggle with the possibility of living a polyamorous lifestyle. Apps like Feeld encourage people to be upfront about both their desires and expectations, and can be a good place to dabble in polyamory—so go play ;)
Whether you’re already monogamish or in the midst of building a designer relationship, make sure to keep checking in with number one: yourself. No one said dismantling centuries-old societal norms would be easy, but with each new generation comes a more even playing field. Let go of the notion of people as property and we will all be a little more free.