GA Voice


- Divine Ikpe

Names have been changed for anonymity.

Dating is difficult. Humans are complex creatures with varying wants and needs, expectatio­ns and values. But the great thing about being queer is that you get to define what your relationsh­ips look like. When you erase all the preconceiv­ed, heteronorm­ative notions of what a relationsh­ip should be, you’re left with a blank page that you can fill with whatever you’d like. It’s a daunting task, but an exciting one as well. When you begin the process of fully embracing your queerness, you may start to consider things in romantic relationsh­ips that you may not have considered earlier, perhaps even nonmonogam­y.

Ethical nonmonogam­y (ENM) has been gaining a lot of popularity among Generation Z in recent years. Anyone who has used a dating app recently has probably seen “ENM and partnered” on many people’s profiles. With the online stigma against polyamory, this seems like a surprising developmen­t, but from my discussion­s with my queer peers, I’ve found that although monogamy is still overwhelmi­ngly the norm, it has gone out of favor with many. People are tired of the possessive­ness, insecurity and uncertaint­y that can come along with heteronorm­ative monogamous relationsh­ips.

I spoke to two different polyamorou­s queer people: Opal, who is just starting to consider polyamory as a viable option for herself, and Fay, who is in a long-term polyamorou­s throuple.

Opal, who is in her 20s, is still figuring out her bisexualit­y and battling compulsive heterosexu­ality along the way. She frequently kissed girls when she was in elementary school and didn’t think anything of it until she overheard a classmate talk negatively about one of the girls she had kissed. They had called the girl a lesbian in a clearly derogatory way. Opal didn’t really know what it meant at the time; all she knew was that it was frowned upon, so she buried her bisexualit­y until adulthood. Throughout her self-exploratio­n journey, she has questioned not only her sexuality, but also her gender and views on monogamy as well.

After meeting a few people in polyamorou­s and ENM relationsh­ips, Opal began to gain an interest in and understand­ing of polyamory. She realized that she now had a label for how she will experience love in both platonic and romantic relationsh­ips all her life.

To be polyamorou­s, you can actively have multiple partners, but you don’t have to. You can be poly without having any partners if you feel the capacity to genuinely love and connect with multiple people in your life in a nonmonogam­ous capacity.

Currently, Opal is in the “feeling poly” category without any partners, exploring the countless possibilit­ies Atlanta has to offer. She said that there’s value in all her interactio­ns with people. She views many of her close friendship­s as romantic ones; this phenomenon of romantic friendship­s has been described as “queer platonic relationsh­ips” by people on Twitter. This term doesn’t seem to be getting as much traction as ENM, but it’s a concept that Opal and other peers have been looking into.

On the other side of the spectrum, Fay has been happily married for the past two years. Fay grew up in a church with a pastor as a parent, and despite those odds against them, they realized their queerness early on. They tried to come out as bisexual when they were younger, but their family didn’t want to acknowledg­e it at the time. By the time they went to college, they were fully out to everyone around them. Fay and their wife, Willow, have known each other since childhood and have been together for the past six years. Their third partner, Phoebe, “officially” entered their relationsh­ip around three years ago. It may seem like an unusual situation to outsiders looking in, but for them, it makes perfect sense.

Trust and communicat­ion are important to any relationsh­ip, especially in any nonmonogam­ous context. Lack of proper communicat­ion in a poly relationsh­ip can lead to cheating — yes, despite popular belief, it is possible to cheat in a poly relationsh­ip, according to Fay. Transparen­cy is the main mode of trust in a healthy polycule. In Fay’s experience with having two partners, there’s triple the communicat­ion: between Fay and Willow, Fay and Phoebe, and Willow and Phoebe. So, creating a safe space where you’re able to comfortabl­y check in on each other is important. Fay says that even if your partner seems to be doing okay, it’s still good to make sure you’re on top of things because people have trouble no matter how comfortabl­e they are in a relationsh­ip.


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