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What do you imagine when you read the word polyamory? Does it conjure up images of middle-aged folks lounging around in campgrounds with pineapple lanterns decorating their doors? Maybe your mind goes to a movie out of the 1970s with couples exchanging room keys. No doubt, you’ve seen some pretty funny memes about the topic. What you probably don’t picture is a college student just like yourself embracing the poly lifestyle.
Do polyamorous students exist? They certainly, and are surely on your campus. If you’ve ever wondered what they experience, or are curious about polyamory for yourself, keep reading. Here’s a deep dive into polyamory among students.
What is Polyamory?
The simplest definition of polyamory is that it is the practice of engaging in romantic and sexual relationships with multiple people with the consent of all involved. Some people refer to polyamory as ethical non-monogamy.
In practice, polyamory is often more complex. Sometimes, it’s an open relationship where two people have a primary partnership, but allow one another to date other people. In some cases, polyamorous individuals form polycules. These are groups of people who are directly or indirectly linked romantically or sexually.
Is Polyamory a Sexual Preference
Not quite. Although sexual preference is fluid and may evolve, sexual attractions are innate characteristics. Polyamory doesn’t always work that way. For example, one person may adopt a polyamorous lifestyle for some time but ultimately choose traditional monogamy when that suits them. People may be drawn to polyamory out of curiosity, because their life aligns with that choice, or because they develop genuine feelings for multiple people. Some choose polyamory for life, and others for a short period of time.
Why Are Students Interested in Polyamory?
When many students head to college, they begin to experiment in ways that they couldn’t in high school. They become exposed to new ideas and values. Many are no longer living in a place where they might need to fear rejection or worse by opening themselves up to new experiences. So, polyamory becomes a viable possibility.
Also, college students are usually firmly past the age of consent. So, they can use new methods, such as a poly dating app to meet new romantic and sexual partners.
Also, the typical college dating life often involves a lot of strong feelings for multiple people, and isn’t always monogamy-friendly. Polyamory gives students an ethical path to dating and forming romantic relationships with multiple people in an ethical way.
Challenges And Benefits to Being a Poly Student
What is it like to be a polyamorous college student? Here are some challenges and benefits.
You Learn to Communicate Honestly
There are many different types of polyamory, but they all fall apart if honest communication doesn’t exist. If you choose to be polyamorous, you must be relentlessly truthful about your intentions, feelings, and actions. This is a matter of your physical and emotional safety, and that of your partners.
Dating Can be a Challenge
It can be difficult to find people to date if you engage in polyamory. Some people don’t understand what it means, and simply assume you are cheating on your partner. Others may see it as weird and perverse. Even if someone understands what polyamory is, and supports it as a choice for others, they may not want to participate in that themselves.
People Often Assume You Can’t Be Affected by Relationship Rejection
There is a persistent stereotype that polyamorous folks don’t form committed relationships, and are simply driven by sex. Another false assumption is that a polyamorous person won’t form an emotional connection with anybody other than their primary partner. Because of this, people will sometimes end relationships with poly people quite thoughtlessly. That’s painful when you have developed genuine feelings for someone.
It’s Easier to Find a Supportive Person When You Need One
When you date and bond with many people, your social circle grows. You develop new friendships, even beyond your polycule. Because of this, you are more likely to be able to find a supportive friend when you need one.