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But despite or because of nonmonogamy’s current hotness—in the pages of this magazine, Ezra Miller announced he’s polyamorous, and Scarlett Johansson proclaimed, “I don’t think it’s natural to be a monogamous person”—the lifestyle has been reduced to something kinky, easily attainable or unstructured.
Lital Pascar, a doctoral candidate at Northwestern University, researches media representations of nonmonogamy.
Last year, Dani and Robert, both age 33, split after 14 years together. First came brief stints on dating apps, which were quickly abandoned for the decidedly less turbid milieu of their friends group.
To many, they appeared to be typical high school sweethearts who had grown apart. Dani dated an acquaintance; they swung with another couple; that foursome eventually became a triad.
Despite the one-in-five statistic, media and mainstream culture have watered down consensual nonmonogamy, commonly portraying it as an accidental threesome and minimizing how nuanced these arrangements actually are.
One popular instance operates under the X Mile Rule: “Sweetie, it’s okay if you hook up on the road, but don’t bring it home.” Even more prominent (based on my experience) is the Monogamy Except…Rule: “Honey, you can occasionally go to that bathhouse (or dominatrix or BDSM club), but otherwise we are monogamous.” The most specific form of nonmonogamy may be practiced by asexuals—comprising as much as one percent of the population—who partake so their sexual partners’ desires can be fulfilled.
As we know, consent is reshaping our legal, media and social landscapes.
Previously, states legislated certain sex acts, relationships and marriages; before that, religious codes or childbearing needs sanctioned them.
(Tinder and Bumble, the leading heterosexual dating apps, have yet to jump onboard.) In 2017, It’s not—but a possible explanation for the extravagant headline may be that polyamory requires rigorous conversations about consent.
So I may qualify as one of the world’s superior lunchtime gab partners on the topic.
But Dani didn’t openly advertise her nonmonogamy to her co-workers, her neighbors or me. If you haven’t bedded or googled me, you wouldn’t know my relationship history.
Today our laws protect sex as something practiced between consenting adults.
#Me Too has expanded the notion of consent into enthusiastic consent—the idea that a partner should not only agree but be thrilled about it.