Early on in Antoinette and Kevin Patterson’s relationship, the couple called themselves “swingers with an asterisk,” because they weren’t following “traditional swinger culture,” which is based more on sex than relationships.
Terri Conley, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Michigan and an expert in sexuality, said the general interest in swinging and nonmonogamy that took shape in the early 1970s died down in the ’90s with the HIV health crisis.
“We live in a culture that very much values and prizes monogamy, and anyone who deviates from that is often stigmatized,” said Justin J.
“A lot of people say, ‘How can you love more than one person?
’ ” said Shallena, an administrator for the local chapter of the group Black and Poly, which she discovered about five years ago.
“You love them for different reasons and they bring different things to you.” Kevin Patterson, who sits on the steering committee of Polydelphia, said that it’s unreasonable to ask someone to be “your everything,” and that he explores different aspects of his personality with different romantic partners.
One wife, two kids, and multiple partners makes for some busy days, and logistics are a challenge.
Since then, the idea of “consensual nonmonogamy” has reentered the public consciousness, and there’s a documented growing acceptance of it.
Meanwhile, the internet has allowed members of this niche community to coalesce, forming active presences on social media and fostering meetup groups in cities across the country.“I’m not trying to freak the norms,” said Kevin, who wrote a book about polyamory and race. Kevin can’t say exactly how many people he’s seeing — that’s always evolving. Kay, who is pansexual and open to all gender identities, has Kevin, plus her boyfriend and her nonbinary partner.She practices what’s called “solo poly,” meaning she isn’t in a “primary” relationship with anyone.“My sense of it is that the stigma is lessening, but it’s still there.” Some studies suggest 5 percent of Americans are in consensual nonmonogamous relationships, but as many as one in five Americans has been in one at some point in his or her life.And though the reasons someone chooses polyamory vary — some say it’s a deep-seated part of their sexual orientation, others say it’s more of a relationship-style preference — the consensus among experts is that it’s not a fear of commitment.It’s just more people.” Shallena, 40, of East Lansdowne, identifies as bisexual.