5 Problems With Couple Privilege In Polyamory

Couples in our society have a lot of advantages compared to those of us who are single, in relationships of three or more people, relationship anarchists, or solo poly. A lot of times couples who open their relationships do not realize their couple privilege and end up hurting others. Many polyamorous groups and communities are extremely couple-centric and ignore others who are polyamorous outside of a couple. Additionally, the few depictions of polyamory in movies and TV usually revolve around a couple adding a third to their relationship which is not representative of polyamory community as a whole.

Don’t believe me that couple privilege exists- have you ever received a +2 or +3 for a wedding? Also, if your partner is in the hospital only one spouse is permitted to be there and fully support you. Three-way and four-way marriage is illegal and won’t be legalized anytime soon. In many areas, you can only live with three unrelated people at most. The list goes on and on but when it really comes down to it:

Our society revolves around couples.

1. Couple Privilege Is Not Fair To Thirds
The most well-known type of polyamory is a couple opening their relationship to a third. While there is nothing wrong with this if it is done ethically, often couple privilege prevails. When this happens the third person to join the relationship is the one who gets hurt. When couples open their relationship to a third the third is often tossed aside at the first sign of trouble, treated as a sex toy, or used as a tool to mend the original relationship. Couple privilege means that often these unethical behaviors are accepted in the polyamorous communities instead of condemned.

Everyone needs to be treated as a human being and have their feelings respected whether they are part of a couple or not.

2. Couple Privilege Can Support Sexism
When polyamory revolves around couples it can lead to those relationships perpetuating sexist attitudes. Often a heterosexual couple opens up to an additional girl or the man is allowed to sleep with whoever they want while woman’s sexuality is restricted. When men are permitted to be with anyone they like and women are not this form of polyamory is closer to religious, sexist polygamy.

In polyamorous relationships equality in whom women and men are permitted to date needs to be a priority.

3. Not Representative Of Polyamory As A Whole
Polyamory is not well understood and when all representations are a couple adding a third people get the wrong idea. For example, OKCupid attempted to make their site more polyamory- friendly but only succeeded in representing the polyamorous who are part of a couple.

A better understanding of polyamory can only come when all types are represented.

4. Couple Privilege Is Just Another Mold To Try To Fit Your Relationship In
One of the best things about polyamory is that it helps people realize what they really want from their relationships instead of fitting into the box typical of society. When couple privilege is encouraged it is just making another framework for people to conform to.

5. Couple Privilege Weakens The Polyamorous Community
When polyamorous groups and communities focus on couples they are alienating other parts of the community. We need to be united and support each other instead of casting aside people who do polyamory different from us. One of the reasons I started a polyamory Meetup group is because some of the groups in the area were couple-centric to the point they were alienating to people who weren’t a part of hierarchical polyamory.


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