Polyamory Goes into Lockdown in Our Post-pandemic World
Sexperts recommend talking about non-monogamy, but not pursuing new partners.
In one of his recent Savage Love advice columns, Dan Savage fielded a question from someone calling themselves “Married Not Dead,” who, among many things, asked for insight on possibly opening up their marriage.
To help respond to this particular question, Savage called on the expertise of the well-regarded polyamory expert and author of Opening Up: A Guide to Creating and Sustaining Open Relationships, Tristan Taormino.
Tristan’s answer was direct and to the point. “In this time of a global pandemic, thinking and talking about non-monogamy is all you can do right now,” she wrote.
This response raises more than a few interesting questions, most of which haven’t so far been seriously addressed during the current COVID-19 crisis and the subsequent lockdown so many people have been struggling with.
Questions such as “How has all this affected even the idea of polyamory as a concept?” or “Are there potential ways people can still open their relationships while in quarantine?”
Or even this one, perhaps the biggest one of all: “Could the pandemic forever alter our perceptions in regards to sex itself?”
Staying safe even after the lockdowns end
As with polyamory, Tristan further brings up another important point to consider as she further drives home her about the need to be stringent in regards to social isolation
This goes for everyone: no new sex partners until public health experts say we can go back to standing closer than six feet apart. Even then, we’re going to have to proceed with caution.
It’s not something many of us want to hear but Tristian is completely correct: just because the lockdown will someday be relaxed that doesn’t mean that life can just go back to normal.
Even after a vaccine becomes available and then is widely distributed—which could take several years to do—there’s a good likelihood that we’ll have to take precautions against the outbreak of another, maybe even more life-threatening, illness.
In light of this, opening a relationship to include other partners might appear pretty trivial. But just as we have to be conscientious about maintaining our physical health we also need to keep ourselves emotionally healthy as well, including inventing new ways to express our sexual needs.
Polyamory in a post-pandemic world
Which brings up our first question. The answer, though, is almost impossible to predict, considering it involves trying to picture what the world might look like when this outbreak has faded.
On one hand, due to months or even years fearing exposure through physical contact, we might come to consider sexual relationships outside of our immediate circle as far too risky to consider.
On the other hand, however, human beings are nothing if not contrary, so there’s an equal possibility that many of us will explode out of quarantine: feverishly excited to have all kinds of sexual experiences after so much time in rigid isolation, including leaping into all kinds of polyamorous combinations. Though, hopefully, still being careful about being aware of the risks involved.
We’ll just have to wait and see. But in the meantime let’s look at the next question: and how technology, and a little creativity, could mean polyamory under lockdown.
Sex tech and meeting new people
Or, to be more exact, finding new potential partners, as if you were already poly before the quarantine then it’s just a matter of maintaining your relationships instead of trying to forge new ones.
But in either case, a possible solution should come as no surprise to readers of Future of Sex. In fact, we’ve been covering more than a few ways to have long-distance sexual experiences, or just stay intimate with those you love, while practicing social distancing.
What this means for those interested in opening their relationship is that while it’s not the same as having body-to-body sex, using sextech hardware, coupled with video conferencing services, it’s more than possible to meet and then experience mutual sexual pleasure with other people.
The details are really up to those involved, but it could include virtual conference systems to initially get to know one another and, if things are proceeding well and everyone had compatible hardware available, using one of the many new Internet-connected toys to share erotic experiences.
As was just said, though perhaps not identical to in-the-same-room sexual play it still might be an entertaining way for polyamorous people to stay sexual with their partners or even invite others to join in.
Changing how we think about sex
Which gets us to our final question, and while it may at first sound like it might be the biggest one, ever, it’s actually something that’s been brewing for quite a few years.
A good way to approach it would be to take “Could the pandemic forever alter our perceptions in regards to sex itself?” and instead rephrase it as: “What’s sex?”
Putting aside the heteronomative idea that it has to be connected to reproduction, it can be quite challenging to answer. If you think it of as being physically intimate with another person—or persons as we are talking about polyamory, after all—then why isn’t utilizing sextech hardware be any different?
And, as readers will no doubt already be well aware of, things in this regard will only get better and better, and much more immersive, as time goes on. Who knows, maybe this pandemic could be the massive jump-start that’ll completely transform sextech, leading to ground-breaking new approaches to how we can be sexually intimate with one another?
In this is the case, then why couldn’t the first of our pair of potential futures mix with the second to produce an even-more-likely third? Picture it this way: COVID-19 results in a society that’s developed an air of caution when it comes to being in physical proximity with other people, particularly strangers. Hardly, you may think, a world that would consider polyamory all that appealing.
But humans being as we are, a great many of us will still want to release all our pent up sexual energy, including opening up our relationships.
How to merge the two? Here’s where all that sweet bleeding-edge sextech that was developed during the pandemic comes in. With it, we’ll be able to have all kinds of mind-blowing sexual experiences with potentially anyone and everyone while still being safe at home.
Waiting and hoping and staying safe
If this third future somehow does happen, one end result could very well be a total transformation in how we think about sex and being polyamorous: with multiple relationships having the potential to extend to practically every corner of the world.
But until this does, or does not happen, please take Tristan’s words to heart: that even after the lockdowns are lifted every one of us must remain rigorously careful and cautious.
Not just for ourselves but for everyone, including our dearest partner, or many dearest partners, we care so much about.
Image sources: Robert Ashworth, Olgierd Rudak, Sarah Mirk, Dvortygirl, Jean KOULEV, Elvert Barnes
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