The fliers that advertise the new student Polyamory Group did not reveal the founder’s name or the location of the group’s upcoming meetings. The founder of the Polyamory Group did not disclose these details in order to maintain both her own anonymity and the confidentiality of the club meetings.
Miriam ’19 founded the Polyamory Group to provide a space for polyamorous students, as well as allies, to meet up and talk about questions that come up in polyamorous relationships. Miriam requested to use a pseudonym because she is not out as polyamorous to everyone in her life.
So far, the 10 current club members have met once over dinner, and Miriam hopes for the club to meet about once a month. The location is only disclosed to people who have contacted the University’s LGBT Center with interest in attending a meeting.
Miriam received inspiration for the club one day when she was sitting in an upper-year group meeting at the LGBT Center. She mentioned off-hand that she wished there were a polyamory group on campus. A friend suggested that Miriam start such a group, so Miriam started by sending out listserv emails about the first meeting.
“We got more responses than I was expecting, and I was very happy about that,” Miriam said.
10 people attended the first meeting. Miriam only knew a few of the students who attended ahead of time.
“So that was really nice, just to encounter these other people and be able to talk freely about this part of my life without fear of judgement or without giving people the whole 101 that I have to give most of the time to people,” she said.
“I'm glad that there is a Polyamory Group in the Center, for members of the community who identify as poly, are in polyamorous relationships, and/or generally want to learn more,” said Stephen Chao ’19, a student intern at the LGBT Center who is not affiliated with the club.
“There are definitely strains of toxic monogamy that run through our cultural narratives surrounding relationships, and it seems that the Poly Group can serve as a positive space to counteract that toxicity,” he said.
Polyamory is a form of ethical non-monogamy, according to the group. It provides an ethical framework for being in multiple relationships at once, or for being open to being in multiple relationships at once.
Miriam offered the following distinction between polyamory and polygamy in her listserv emails: “Polygamy, as practiced throughout history, involved a lot of sexism and non-consensual power dynamics, making it fail the ‘ethical’ part of ethical non-monogamy.”
“In the same way that monogamy will have rules, polyamory has rules too; they’re just different rules,” Miriam said. The one blanket rule is that all parties must be consenting at all times to a polyamorous relationship, she said.
Beyond consent, the rules can vary for each relationship. In Miriam’s relationship, the rules are that she and her boyfriend can date other people as long as they communicate about it beforehand.
Miriam’s relationship is the form of polyamorous relationship known as hierarchical, one in which a person has a primary partner who takes precedence over other romantic or sexual interests. Some people have non-hierarchical relationships, in which no relationships are prioritized over others.
Like most people, Miriam grew up unaware that healthy non-monogamous relationships could exist. She started learning more by reading about polyamory online. Then one of her friends entered into a polyamorous relationship, and eventually, Miriam became interested in entering one herself.
To Miriam, polyamory is a choice, not an identity. She and her boyfriend choose to be polyamorous right now, which means that even though they happen not to be dating anyone else, they know that they are both open to the realized possibility.
Miriam does not feel strongly that she must always be polyamorous, and she doesn’t think that polyamory is necessarily better than monogamy.
“I don’t think poly is better, it’s just there are some people who are more suited to that, and some people who are more suited for monogamy,” Miriam said.
If any student wants more information about the Polyamory Group, they can email firstname.lastname@example.org.