A group that supports ethical non-monogamy sent an open letter to Meta on Thursday, calling on Facebook to allow users to list more than one relationship status on their profile.
The letter, initiated by the Organization for Polyamory and Ethical Non-monogamy, or OPEN, says Facebook’s current policy is “arbitrary” and “exclusive.” Signatories included leaders of groups such as the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom and the Center for Positive Sexuality.
A spokesperson for Meta said the company was reviewing the letter and noted that one of the statuses users can choose on Facebook is “in an open relationship.” The change the petitioner’s request would allow them to list all their romantic partners.
About 20 percent of people say they’ve committed some form of consensual non-monogamy, according to a 2017 survey. Today, the term encompasses “a bajillion niche terms,” according to Brett Chamberlin, the executive director of OPEN. The most well-known terms are “polyamory,” which means dating several people at once, and “swinging,” which describes when people in relationships exchange partners.
A newer entry is “relationship anarchy,” where participants break down all the expected norms of romantic relationships and only subscribe to rules set by the individuals involved.
“Ethical non-monogamy is nothing new, but technologies such as the Internet have made it easier for people to build communities and pursue lifestyles that may not have previously been accepted in mainstream culture,” Mr. Chamberlin said.
Today, people interested in opening a relationship can turn to podcasts and polyamory coaches for advice and join dating apps like Feeld and #open to meet like-minded others. Consensual non-monogamy has even made it to Vogue magazine, where one writer asked, “Is monogamy over?”
People have also become more public about their non-monogamous relationships by writing articles and social media posts about their experiences.
Last month, a TikTok star with 3.6 million followers, Taylor Frankie Paul, spoke about her open marriage in a live stream. Ms. Paul, a member of the Mormon Church, told viewers that she, her husband, and some of their friends would be “swinging softly,” where “you don’t completely switch and go all in.” Ms. Paul also said she and her husband were currently divorcing, prompted in part by Ms. Paul to break the rules of their agreement.
Perhaps the most prominent people who have publicly discussed their experiences with non-monogamy are Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith. Last year, Mr. Smith told GQ about a period when his marriage was open.
“We have given each other trust and freedom, in the belief that everyone should find their way,” said the actor. “And marriage cannot be a prison for us.” Willow Smith, the couple’s daughter, spoke about polyamorists in “Red Table Talk,” a show she co-hosts with her mother and grandmother.
Part of the shift towards greater adoption could be generations. In a YouGov survey that surveyed about 1,340 people and asked them to describe their “ideal relationship” on a scale from “completely monogamous” to “completely non-monogamous,” 43 percent of millennials said their ideal relationship is at least would be somewhat non-monogamous. Monogamous, compared with 30 percent of Generation Xers and 25 percent of Baby Boomers.
Despite the increasing normalization of non-monogamy as a practice, Mr. Chamberlin said, many people who participate in it are still afraid to go public about their lifestyle.
“You could be fired from your job, denied housing, or lose a custody battle based on the structure of your intimate relationships,” he said. His organization’s goal, which he and two others founded in April, is to raise awareness and create more acceptance for non-monogamous relationships.
“In the long run, one of the projects of culture and society is to give people more space to be in the consensual relationships they choose,” he said. He pointed to the LGBTQ rights movement as one of those projects. Consensual non-monogamy, he added, “is the next chapter.”