Apr 29, 2024 - Health

Portland's polyamorous community continues to grow

Illustration of a very wide bed, with four pillows instead of two.

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

When it comes to love, people are branching out — more than one-third of Portland-area OkCupid users say they're open to polyamorous and nonmonogamous relationships.

Why it matters: Portland's been known to have an active polyamorous community for years, and new data from dating apps shows more locals are interested in becoming members.

  • "There's a lot of poly visibility in Portland," Christina Dynamite, a life coach who works with polyamorous and nonmonogamous people, told Axios. "People are realizing that there are more options based in truth and transparency."

What they're saying: According to Dynamite, ethical nonmonogamy is an umbrella term in which "everybody is aware that people are dating other people" in relationships that may or may not include sex or romance.

  • "There's an infinite number of combinations" under the polysphere, Dynamite said, including singles who have multiple partners, couples who bring in a third (or fourth), as well as groups of three or more who live together as a family and date others outside of it.

By the numbers: Among Portlanders, 39% who've used OkCupid over the past two years say they would consider an open relationship.

  • On Feeld, which bills itself as a sex-positive dating app for the "curious," there's been a 120% increase since 2021 in the number of Portland users including the terms "ethically nonmonogamous" and "polyamorous" in their profiles.

Catch up quick: Interest in nonmonogamy grew during lockdown, when people had more time to consider their sexual identities and what they wanted out of relationships, Ana Kirova, CEO of Feeld, told Axios.

Zoom in: If you're interested in exploring polyamory, be honest about your needs and wants, Dynamite said. But first, take a step back and get to know the terminology — books, podcasts and meetups can help get you more acquainted, she added.

  • Jealousy can be common but can be "worked through with communication," she said.
  • But she had a warning for single people joining an established couple: "Triads are considered the grad school of polyamory, because it takes a lot of work."

The big picture: Data is limited on the prevalence of polyamory — and surveys differ in how they ask about relationship preferences — but there seems to be an uptick in openness to the lifestyle.

  • About one-third of polled American singles say they've had a consensually nonmonogamous relationship, according to Match's 2024 Singles in America study.
  • A slightly higher proportion — 34% — described their ideal relationship as something other than complete monogamy in a YouGov survey from last year.
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