Apr 11, 2024 - News

Interest in ethical non-monogamy is a thing in Seattle

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

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

When it comes to love, people are expanding their options, with more than one-third of Seattle-area OkCupid users saying they're open to polyamory and non-monogamy.

Why it matters: There's been an active polyamorous community in Seattle for decades, clinical psychologist Sheppard Salusky told Axios.

  • That includes singles who date multiple people, couples who bring in a third and groups of three or more sexually involved people who live together as family.

What they're saying: Polyamory doesn't always work out long-term for some of the people Salusky has counseled, though trying out the lifestyle can be fun.

  • Jealousy is common, even among people who are typically open-minded.
  • "Often, the person who accumulates many sexual partners will be happy while the other person feels left out," he said.

Catch up quick: Media coverage, a buzzy new memoir and shows like "Couple to Throuple" are bringing polyamory into mainstream conversations.

By the numbers: 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 non-monogamous relationship, according to Match's 2024 Singles in America study — and a slightly higher proportion described their ideal relationship as something other than complete monogamy in a 2023 YouGov survey.
  • Feeld, which bills itself as a sex-positive dating app for the "curious," has seen a 500% increase over the last three years in the number of app users including the terms "ethically non-monogamous" and "polyamorous" in their profiles, said Feeld CEO Ana Kirova.
  • On OkCupid nationally, there was a 45% increase in profile mentions of terms relating to non-monogamy between 2021 and 2023.

Among Seattleites, 37% of those who've used OkCupid over the past two years say they would consider an open relationship, and on Feeld, there's been an increase of over 150% in the number of people using the terms "ethically non-monogamous" or ENM and "polyamorous," per the companies.

Flashback: The interest in non-monogamy grew during lockdown, when people had more time to consider their sexual identities and what they wanted out of relationships, said Kirova.

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