I can’t imagine a world where what I am about to say isn’t controversial, but it is time to get this off my chest. Solo polyamory is often inaccessible and ableist. For those of you who don’t know, ableism is the discrimination of people who are not able- bodied. It is rampant in our society and even more so in some groups.
I’m an extremely independent person, so when I figured out polyamory was a thing and I wasn’t alone I looked into solo poly online groups. I was upset to find that by many solo poly people’s definitions I could never be one of them.
If you ask solo polyamorous people what solo poly looks like to them, the answer obviously varies. Some of the answers include not marrying, not raising kids together, not sharing finances, and almost always- living alone. I have never been able to live alone and I never will. I frequently faint and have high risk of a blood clot and stroke so it is too dangerous for me to live alone. Doctors regularly tell me I can’t live alone. And don’t try to suggest one of those “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up buttons” as you usually have to be conscious to press a button.
To so many solo poly people living alone is a big part of their solo poly identity. I am so envious when they share pictures of their single apartment talking about how they are having alone time. I’m envious that they have a space that is theirs and only theirs. They throw it around, and like so many ableist actions, they have no idea what a privilege they have in living alone. They don’t know how lucky they are and it hurts.
After so many posts and so many discussions about living alone and how living alone is essential to their freedom I came to the conclusion: Many people’s version of solo polyamory is simply inaccessible to disabled people like me.
I later noticed the posts on not sharing finances. So many people also considered this a cornerstone of their solo poly identity. But what about the people who can’t work because they are disabled? Disability pays out far less than you think. Medical bills are the most common reason for bankruptcy in the US. On my own, many months I have to choose between food and my medication or my medication and rent.
If I combine finances with someone I love it creates a buffer between me and starvation, between me and homelessness. The tables are stacked against me and I fight so hard- but I can’t do it alone. I need help. It is the sad reality of living in a country that doesn’t believe healthcare is a human right.
I am about to get kicked off my parent’s insurance and my best option for getting health insurance is to marry my partner who gets it through his job. In addition, if something ever happens to me (which is more likely with my conditions) having a spouse rather than a partner means a lot in medical decisions and visitations. I never saw myself getting married and now find myself rushed towards it due to circumstance. I love my partner, but I never felt like I needed or wanted a piece of paper declaring that.
So is solo polyamory on the whole ableist? No, but too much of the discussions and attitudes are. Not everyone can afford to or safely live alone. Not everyone can be financially independent. Not everyone can stay unwed. Putting so much emphasis on living alone, independent finances, and not getting married as a part of solo polyamory means excluding people with disabilities and other marginalized groups. It means that not everyone who wants to be solo poly is able to.
While there is not necessarily explicit solo poly gatekeeping, I couldn’t help but get the message from solo poly groups- this world isn’t meant for you. Discussions of solo polyamory don’t include people like you. You don’t belong here.
And that is why I consider myself a relationship anarchist.