Online dating is a concept that’s finally become a staple within our society. No longer is it considered “dangerous” or downright “creepy” to create bonds with people across wifi signals and meet up when the time is right. Now more than ever, couples are meeting within the digital space and walking down the aisle towards a lifetime of forever. Mainstream dating sites have done a great job at catering to the general desires of hopeful singles, but when it comes to alternative lifestyles, secondary sites have picked up the slack.
For the couple that seeks to participate in a relationship with more than just one mate, the option to search has proven difficult in the past within mainstream platforms, but that’s about to change. Online dating giant OkCupid.com is the first to offer the option for couples to search for a mate as a unit.
According to The Atlantic, the online-dating giant is adding a feature for its members that allows couples to list themselves as “in an open relationship,” which enables partners to link their profiles together in order to search for a third member in openness and honesty. This change comes from OkCupid’s recent data, revealing a rapid increase in the number of couples interested in entering into polyamorous relationships.
According to the data, 24 percent of its members have a serious interest in entering into group sex, and 42 percent would consider dating someone in an open or polyamorous relationship. These numbers are actually an 8 percent increase from five years ago according to OkCupid, but what’s even more interesting is the decrease in the numbers of members interested in strictly monogamous relationships.
OkCupid’s data say the numbers have fallen to a minority of 44 percent, down from 56 percent of members interested in monogamy in 2010. This shows a growing interest in polyamory within the American population, and according to the results of a recent national survey published on PsychologyToday.com, 9.8 million couples across the United States are in some form of polyamorous or open relationship currently—this includes heterosexual and homosexual couples.
As the world continues to move deeper into the millennium, people seem to be rethinking the traditional constructs of relationships that have been implemented by society and going with what “feels” more natural for their lifestyles and desires. This profile linking is the first of its kind for any mainstream dating site, and it may be the catalyst to spark a change within the market towards more accepting platforms.
When the topic of polyamory or open relationships is brought up within the African-American community however, the topic is quickly down trotted often being labeled as a “formal way of cheating” or “going against what God has intended.” When comedian and Oscar-winning actress Mo’Nique revealed to the world that she and her husband are in an open relationship, Black people from all walks of life attacked viciously calling her everything but a child of God. But many of the naysayers and negative commentators were completely unaware of exactly what it means to be in an open relationship, and the rules that come along with polyamory.
Everyone isn’t going to have the same beliefs about relationships, but the growing trends make it evident that this form of relating to others isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. So before going off on a rant about how the world is “going to hell in a handbasket” because people are making the decision to love openly, let’s take a basic lesson in Polyamory 101 from open lifestyle coach Victoria of Openlifeadvice.com to quell some of the rumors.
EBONY: What exactly is polyamory? Isn’t it just a bunch of people freaking on each other?
Victoria: Derived from the Greek word “poly,” meaning “many,” and the Latin word “amory,” meaning “love,” polyamory is the practice, state or ability of having more than one loving and/or sexual relationship at the same time, with the full knowledge and consent of all partners involved.
While there are often rules and structures within polyamory that are similar to the concept of swinging (multiple partners, threesomes, etc.), poly relationships are generally understood to be more open to the possibility of emotional connection and romantic motivations. While polyamory is certainly a good way to get your freak on, just like any other community, people in the poly dating world talk. So just like it does in monogamous dating circles, if you’re only in it for the sex, word will get around.
EBONY: But isn’t it a form of “condoned” cheating?
Victoria: Absolutely not! To most people, cheating means a violation of the boundaries/rules of your relationship by being intimate with someone else. Polyamory is the exact opposite of cheating, in that if your relationship boundaries say it’s okay to sleep with other people, then there’s been no deception, no lies, and no rules broken.
EBONY: Jealousy is a human trait though. People can’t seriously be with more than one person and not get jealous!
Victoria: Jealousy. It’s the one topic that comes up every time anybody has ever tried to talk about open relationships. And it’s not without good reason—jealousy is an issue that inevitably develops in any relationship, polyamorous or monogamous. After all, the definition of jealousy—the fear of losing something or somebody that we love—is an obvious (and healthy!) consequence of loving in the first place.
The difference is that while jealousy in monogamous relationships is treated as an obstacle that can be overcome, many people view jealousy in polyamorous arrangements as a fatal flaw that will ultimately doom the relationship. Even though jealousy is often a complicated emotion, the way to deal with it is fairly straightforward: talk it through. Don’t guilt trip. Be supportive. Be forgiving. And above all, be loving.
EBONY: But isn’t this going against what God has planned for us? Isn’t being polyamory a sin?
Victoria: If you believe in any higher power, a being of love, strength and truth, a being of forgiveness, light and empowerment, then logically you have to know that the more people you love ethically and with an open mind, then God in any of His forms will at the very least understand your motivations, if not outright support them.
It’s also important to note that any higher power has to be more displeased with the deception of cheating than an honest and open arrangement where no one is lied to and everyone is empowered to live and to love to the best of their ability.
Find out more information about polyamory at www.openlifeadvice.com
Glamazon Tyomi is a freelance writer, model and sex educator with a deeply rooted passion for spreading the message of sex positivity and encouraging the masses to embrace their sexuality. Her website, www.glamerotica101.com, reaches internationally as a source for advice and information for the sexually active/curious. Follow her on Twitter at @glamazontyomi.