The Downside of Poly Community Online

I’ve been thinking about how the Internet affects poly relationships in anticipation of my panel at Momentum in April, and one thing that strikes me on the negative side is that as more poly people meet their partners online, it makes the idea of poly community, or poly family, much more difficult.  When you meet your partners online, of course, you have the benefit of some degree of anonymity, safety, and openness about poly, as well as a lot more people to choose from.  If you’re not out in meatspace, it’s hard to find poly people to date unless you go to specific poly gatherings that may not be your style.

The downside, though, is that although it’s certainly possible to build community online, it’s also hard to build poly families when everyone lives thousands of miles away.  I have a little group of friends–my girlfriends, plus my girlfriend’s girlfriend, who is friends with all of us–that’s almost like a little family in that we spend lots of time together chatting, we have all these intersecting relationships, etc.  But I find it highly frustrating in some senses, because the idea of poly family does really appeal to me.  I hear about people who live in houses where everyone’s queer/poly/kinky, or just where everyone lives in the same neighborhood, and it seems so unfair that the people I care most about live in different parts of the country.

I wonder if, to some extent, that poly community/poly family model is becoming less common as people meet online, or if it’s just more common for people to move long distances to make that happen.  Either way, it seems like a certain amount of uprooting has to be involved.

This post was originally published on the blog Sex Positive Activism, which has now merged to become the sex & relationships section of Queer & Now.

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