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How do you think the media portrays polyamory versus what is the reality?

Feb 16, 2023

I’m seeing polyamory shown up a lot more in the mainstream media. How do you think the media portray as polyamory versus what is the reality? 

So I think it’s getting better than it used to but for a very long time, the portrayal of polyamory in media was upper-middle class to rich white folks who are cisgender, who are fairly heteronormative, who practice hierarchical polyamory and it’s like a hot bi babe and her girlfriends and a dude and his girlfriends and like it almost always use the stock photo of like three to five sets of white feet sticking out from under the covers. 

So I think that there was a way in which the media portrayed and does to an extent still portray polyamory as a thing that white people do and that stays as close to traditional script about dating as possible.

So it’s like normal dating just with more people and that’s not really how it’s practiced by the majority of folks that I know. 

Most of the folks who I know and spent time with, they don’t really do hierarchy in their relationships.

That’s not a thing that’s important to them.

There are wide variety of races, a wide variety of genders, a wide variety of body types and shapes.

A lot of us are fairly broke.

Some people have a lot of money, but a lot of us are not super well-off because we are living in a time in late-stage capitalism where most of us are suffering. 

We tend to be less in this model of like central couple who has other people and instead more in like a spread out polycule loosely associated network where it’s not that there’s like a central couple who has other people.

It’s that like all of us have a variety of relationships of varying degrees of closeness that may overlap, that may not, it depends. 

Most of the polyamory that we see in the mainstream media doesn’t show anybody with visible disabilities doing it rather than lots of people do.

It tends to be a lot of like neurotypical folks where a lot of us are neurodiverse.

So I think that as with a lot of media, the picture in media is this very like thin, white, heteronormative, cisnormative, abled, fairly well-off financially, ideal, and the real world is much messier and more complicated. 

I think too that there’s – right now is a very interesting time in media because there’s a whole bunch of shows that are basically about people microdosing nonmonogamy as a way to improve their monogamy or find their right monogamous partner.

So if you think about like Love is Blind, The Ultimatum, Too Hot to Handle.

Really there’s a bunch of shows that are about date a bunch of people for a while to find the one for you. 

The Ultimatum I thought was the funniest because it was like all right, you all are couples, one of you wants to get married, the other doesn’t so meet all the other couples and then pick someone from a different couple to move in with for a while to see if you would rather be with them.

Because like whoa!

Just going right to moving in.


Like you holing but straight, very strange. 

And I think that it’s again, really an interesting time because it seems like a lot of the media that has various kinds of nonmonogamy happening in it was definitely written by monogamous people because it still has those underlying mononormative values. 

When folks who are nonmonogamous write the media, it tends to be very different than that.

In the last – in 2022, I’ve got contacted by two reality shows and one person who is working on dramatic series related to nonmonogamy and both of the reality shows came to me with a premise that was very much come up with something that like monogamous folks came up with and my call with them had me saying like, “That’s not really how it works, here is what would make more sense,” whereas the dramatic series is being written by someone who is nonmonogamous.

And so like even just from the start of that call, there was way less that I had to do that like clarified that that’s – like this is how real people do it. 

So I think that there’s still this way that because monogamy is much more common, because it’s the mainstream, because of the expected way of doing relationships, the lens that people take to nonmonogamy in media is still very much informed by mononormativity. 

All right.

One more sip of water.


So we had a comment.

Stigmatized beliefs such as what? 


So I think this was talking – when we were talking about the therapist stuff.

So it is just true that in this society, if you are nonmonogamous, if you are kinky, if you are queer, if you are trans, you are far more likely to experience oppression and stigmatization than if you are cis, straight, vanilla, monogamous, white.

That is just the truth.

You can be fired for being nonmonogamous.

You can lose your kids for being nonmonogamous. 

As a therapist, I know of several therapists in States who have lost their licenses for being nonmonogamous.

Not having sex with a client, nothing even close to that.

Just that they are nonmonogamous and that violates the very vague morality clause that is in many different licensing laws. 

When I talk about stigmatized beliefs here, I’m talking about legally and socially stigmatized that socially, if you are tell people you are polyamorous, monogamous folks, a lot of them tend to have an issue with you and not want you anywhere near their partners.

And in terms of like legally and structurally, it can have very real consequences for you in terms of ability to find employment or housing or maintaining custody of children or deal with financial issues, end-of-life issues, like there are just a lot of ways that you’re impacted.

So that is what I mean by being part of a stigmatized group. 

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