In this survey, 172 polyamorous people were surveyed. In general, people were reached through Facebook support groups and through sharing with their friends. Obviously, there are limitations of a survey that only reaches 172 people, but the results are interesting to consider nonetheless.
Participants varied from 18 to 56 years old, but responses weren’t accepted from people younger than 18 due to the sexually explicit nature of some of the questions. The age with the most answers was 26 years old. Most responders to the survey were in their 20’s or 30’s.
If you would like to answer the survey and haven’t done so please do so here. This will be periodically updated with additional answers and will only get more illuminating and reliable.
Sexual Orientation & Gender Identity
The polyamorous community seems to be far more diverse in many ways than the general population. Gender identity and sexual orientation make this clear. 96.6% of the general population considers themselves straight, but less than half of polyamorous people surveyed consider themselves straight. It is their turn to be the minority! 54.1%, the majority of the polyamorous community surveyed are polysexual, attracted to more than one gender. 23% of people have witnessed discrimination based on sexual orientation in the polyamorous community despite the diversity.
In the polyamorous community surveyed, 82.5% are cisgendered and consider themselves strictly a man or woman. Even with these large numbers or minority gender identities, 13 % people have witnessed some form of gender identity expression in the polyamory community.
More people new to polyamory responded to the survey than people who had been polyamorous for a while. This could be due to where the participants were found, online support groups because people new to polyamory are more likely to seek out support. It could also be due to the fact that more responders to the survey were younger and therefore have been dating for less time.
Some people consider polyamory to be choice while others consider it to be an orientation. People who see it as an orientation explain that polyamory is just a part of who they are, just like their sexual orientation. It was surprising to find that the majority of people who responded felt that polyamory was an ingrained part of who they are.
Some people consider polyamory the best choice for them currently, but that they could be monogamous again in the future under the right circumstances. However, 58.7% of people who are polyamorous are unlikely to become monogamous in the future. Only 7.6% of people would definitely be in a monogamous relationship. Most seem to be here to stay.
Frustratingly, many people incorrectly conflate polyamory and cheating. Most people who are polyamorous are not cheating and never have cheated. In fact, only 40% of polyamorous people have ever cheated. Some studies suggest that about 71% of the general married population have cheated. Cheating seems to be a hard statistic to measure as people are unlikely to admit they have cheated. The important thing to take away from this is that polyamorous people don’t seem to be more likely to be unfaithful like everyone assumes.
Coming out, as anything not in line with the majority of people, can be difficult. Polyamory is no different. Only 15.1% of polyamorous people surveyed are out in every aspect of life. 5.2% of polyamorous people surveyed were not out to anyone- family, friends, work, or close friends. They are only out to their partners (god I hope so).
Participants who were out were far more likely to experience discrimination for being polyamorous.
A lot of polyamorous people have to deal with the assumption that polyamory is the same as polygamy that is associated with religion. Forget the idea that all the poly people are Mormons. Most polyamorous people, 85.5% in fact, are actually atheists or agnostic.
Safe sex is especially important when people are having sex with multiple partners. Experts suggest getting tested every 6 months. Our survey suggests that the polyamorous community could do a bit better on staying safe and healthy.
BDSM & Kink
85% of people surveyed are interested or actively into BDSM or kink. People surveyed reported discrimination within the community for both being into kink/ BDSM as well as being vanilla.
Polyamory Community Problems
The polyamorous community is great in many ways, but there are many things that can be improved upon. I think the first step to doing so is to listen to the problems people have encountered and attempt to improve upon them. For example, racism was reported by 20% of the people who answered the survey. Polyamory is often critiqued as being for rich, white people and I think this statistic confirms that we need to work harder to include minorities and consider racism.
There are some ways of doing polyamory that are inherently sexist. 41% of people reported encountering misogyny. Polyamory as a whole is weakened when it is used to oppress women instead of empower them.
I have written on ageism in the polyamorous community. 40% of people also reported this experience within the polyamorous community.
Ableism and inaccessibility are things that able-bodied people often forget in communities. 11% of people have witnessed ableism and 13% reported inaccessibility at events within the polyamorous community. It is important for people who plan events in the polyamorous community to consider accessibility and make it a priority. The community is stronger when you include everyone.
I have also written about couple privilege and couple-centrism within the polyamorous community. The majority of people- 63% have encountered couple-centrism in their polyamorous community.
There is a National Coming Out Day on October 11. Many polyamorous people began to come out on this day. In response, they were chastised by the LGBTQIAA+ community. One argument was that polyamorous people were never discriminated against so taking their day was inappropriate. That is an argument for a different day, but I do want to address the claim that polyamorous people are not discriminated against. These survey responses gave many examples of proof otherwise.
There were multiple accounts of people saying they lost their jobs, friends, and even their children. People also reported being denied housing and being evicted. In fact, I have had the personal experience of being kicked out by a landlord because I am bisexual and polyamorous. Additionally, people from the survey reported discrimination and losing their family, friends, and significant others. If having their children taken away or being denied a place to live, specifically because they are polyamorous, isn’t discrimination I don’t know what is.