In the wake of Valentine’s Day, maybe you’re thinking about your partner (or lack of one).

For many people, “partner” need not be a singular idea. Polyamory, or ethical non-monogamy, “can involve any number of people, either cohabiting or not, sometimes all having sex with each other, and sometimes just in couples within the larger group,” The Atlantic reports.

And it might be more common than you think.

From Quartz:

What research there is suggests otherwise: a survey of some 8,700 US single adults in 2017 found that more than one in five engaged in consensual non-monogamy at some point in their lives, while in a 2014 survey 4%-5% of Americans reported currently being polyamorous.

Here’s what one poly woman told The Chicago Tribune

“Polyamory isn’t for everybody and that’s OK,” said Topaz Steele, a Chicago native who has identified as poly for about 10 years. “I’m not here to say that everyone should try to be nonmonogamous or that everyone is capable of loving people in this way. I do know that being polyamorous works for me and my lifestyle and I wouldn’t push anyone to do it just because.”

Steele spent last Valentine’s Day out on a date with her two boyfriends. While out, the trio grabbed a bite to eat and spent time discussing their favorite videos games and anime shows. Throughout the date, she casually made a point to hold both of her boyfriends’ hands, either separately or at the same time. She said she couldn’t care less what people think of seeing the three of them out together on a date.

We’re breaking down how ethical non-monogamy works and the stigma some associate with having multiple partners.

Produced by Jonquilyn Hill.


  • Janet W. Hardy Co-author, "The Ethical Slut"; @janetwhardyr
  • Elisabeth Sheff Sociologist and relationship consultant; author, "The Polyamorists Next Door: Inside Multiple Partner Relationships and Families"; @DrEliSheff
  • Ron Young Founder, Black and Poly
  • Crystal Farmer Editor, Black and Poly Magazine; @crystalbfarmer

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