How to Normalize Polyamory and Non-Monogamy

Out of sight, out of mind? Taboos keep things in the dark. The best way to normalize polyamory or to normalize non-monogamy, is to bring it from the margins of secrecy into everyday conversation.

The conversation to normalize polyamory is really a million conversations. Conversations between friends, conversations with doctors, conversations with corporations, and more.

Normalizing polyamory is about representing polyamory, at home, at school, in the church and state, in Hollywood, in literature, in art, in business.

By showing the world who we are, and expecting a place at the table rather than groveling for it or lurking in the shadows, more people can see the obvious: there are different ways to live your love life than the dominant social and family paradigms.

Read: 13 Unconventional and Alternative Relationships Explained

You normalize non-monogamy just by existing. Every time you interact with others and show your preferences, you help to normalize polyamory.

When you are seen dining in your polycule, you normalize polyamory by exposing people to different ways of loving or dating. The romantic table for two is an age old emblem of dating in our minds, from experience, from seeing the scene in romantic films.

Simply by showing up as a throuple you help shift and broaden the image society holds of love and dating. The more you show up, speak up, stand up, participate, in every aspect of life and culture, and share your experiences and needs, the more you help normalize non-monogamy.

Read: ENM Relationships: 10 Examples of Ethical Non-Monogamy

10 Ways to Normalize Polyamory

1. Come out of the closet.

Simply being yourself can be an act of courage and a step towards normalizing polyamory. It’s not fair that people were and are persecuted by friends and family, community life, the law, and more for their belief in the natural and expansive love.

But as society opens and we are no longer in direct danger, simply stating who we are instead of hiding it is the number one contribution every person can make to the future safety of everyone.

Read: Coming Out as Poly: Is It the Right Time?

2. Stand up for yourself and your needs and rights.

Reminding people in every relevant situation that your needs and rights as a polyamorous person matter helps to normalize polyamory. It’s not about being political or radical, but simply standing up for your best interests.

When an office party gives an invite to “you and your partner,” politely approach and tell them you have two partners and ask how to work out the tickets. When your brother and his husband are talking about gratitude for marriage equality, remind them that the work isn’t finished yet. When the state doesn’t recognize one of your partners legally, find out where to go for advocacy.

Normalizing polyamory is largely just a matter of expecting the same considerations as everyone else.

Read: Polyamory Is Hard: Truths About Polyamorous Living

3. Speak up for your lovers.

Maybe your family or workplace is ultra-progressive. More than likely, there are occasions you let a thoughtless remark or an offensive oversight go by. You didn’t want to ruffle any feathers. So your lover or partner felt invisible. Maybe your partners struggle with their families, and you just try to act polite when you’re there.

Practice putting your two cents in, on behalf of your partner. Stand up for all of your partners to normalize non-monogamy.

Read: Family Gatherings and Polyamory: How to Proceed

4. Educate people in your daily life.

Even when someone is not being offensive, there are constant opportunities to normalize polyamory. If you’re in class and the teacher is talking about historical marriage, or biological mating patterns in animals, there may be an opportunity to expand on what is being said or point to something that is left out.

Read: Tips for Sharing Your Poly Lifestyle

5. Leave comments everywhere.

Anytime you see an opportunity to correct a misconception, you can normalize non-monogamy. You can leave comments on social media and on blogs. You don’t have to be aggressive or defensive—just add the facts when someone has omitted them.

When you leave comments anywhere that are not necessarily political, such as a cooking discussion online or a tennis thread, when it is relevant, mention polyamory.

Far more effective than playing defense and getting into political arguments is simply existing out loud. Where once you may have gone out of your way to make your relationship status vague, for example, insert your reality proudly.

In a recent blog thread about local restaurants, someone said an oyster bar downtown was the perfect place to take “that special someone.” And someone else commented, “Or someones. Both of my partners love their seafood and the establishment has always been very progressive and welcoming to all.”

Read: Advice on Coming Out as Poly

6. Recruit allies.

Let your friends and family know that you expect them to stand up for you and your partners.

7. Talk to your doctor.

If you are shy about being open in regards to your physical, sexual, and mental health, change gears. I had a doctor who kept encouraging me to “stay with one” lover and it meant not always asking for the sexual health tests I needed.

Let your doctors know that you need their help with your health, and you can’t hide the relevant information. You can ask for a doctor who is progressive, but you can also demand caring support from a medical team regardless of their personal stance.

Read: Major Health Benefits of Polyamory

8. Support businesses and people who champion freedom to love.

Support those who support you. Businesses that support your rights and the rights of their polyamorous employees and families deserve your support, too.

9. Support artists, writers, and other culture producers who normalize polyamory.

Buy books that normalize polyamory in romance, mystery, and other literature. Pass them around when you’re done, or choose those writers to give as gifts.

Check out television programming or movies that represent non-monogamous relationships. You can use a good book or a polyamorous movie actress to start cultural conversations with the people around you, too.

Read: Songs About Polyamory

10. Support other people’s choices for love and sex, and expect support in return.

Normalizing polyamory is not about limiting other people’s choices. The purpose of normalizing non-monogamy is not to convert other people or to deny their choices. You can support your sister at her traditional wedding. But be clear that you expect equal support for your choices.

Read: 11 Types of Monogamy

You don’t want to have to defend yourself or answer for yourself or explain things over and over. Champion the choices your friends and family make, and expect equal support in return.

How do you normalize your lifestyle choices? Please share!

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