"Polyamory" became a top relationship search topic in 2017
Every December, Google announces the year's top trending search terms compared to the year before. In the Relationships category, Google just announced that polyamory became one of the top four topics. CNN Money reported this morning,
...According to the list of top relationship questions, [people] wanted to know how to make long distance relationships work, how to change their Facebook status, what it meant to be polyamorous or in an open relationship, and how to know when it's all over.
On Femina in India:
According to Google, the topic of polyamory saw a 130 percent rise in search frequency in 2017. Not surprising, as this year saw several new types of romances emerge. Naturally then, we were curious about how these relationships worked. ...
So the advertising agency that, a year ago, predicted polyamory would be a big deal in 2017 apparently had its research in order.
Getting here took our movement 30 years of vision, faith, and struggle, at first in a cold and isolated cultural wilderness. Now, after the last dozen years of increasing public education and advocacy, we've convinced the media — which used to be dismissive or hostile — to pay attention and report correctly what we're about. And we've reached millions of people directly, unmediated. Particular thanks go to Loving More, the 200 activists in the Polyamory Leadership Network, the now-dozens of book authors, and all of you local organizers, bloggers, writers, Meetup runners, conference producers, discussion-forum regulars, Quora explainers, and the thousands of fine representers who've bravely gone public, in ways large and small, to explain yourselves and us with clarity and integrity.
"Once it has occurred to someone that honest, openly conducted multiple-partner relationships are possible and can be managed in an ethical manner," Eli Sheff wrote in 2013, "they can never unthink that idea. They have become aware of the polyamorous possibility and, regardless of whether they consider polyamory themselves or simply reject it out of hand, they can never again be unaware of consensual nonmonogamy as an option."
So like the LGBT movement before us, I think we have created, in our time, something permanent.
But what will it yet become? A rolling bandwagon can start bounding downhill in ugly directions to a crash. It's up to us to hang on and steer the bandwagon in good directions.
How? As I've repeated in speeches ever since New York's Poly Pride in 2008,
If we are to save our defining word from a loss of meaning – the term by which we can find each other and identify ourselves – and guide this bandwagon in good directions as it gains momentum – we should, in my opinion, be taking every opportunity to do several things:
1. Keep stressing that successful polyamory requires high standards of communication, ethics, integrity, generosity, and concern for every person affected;
2. Emphasize that poly is not for everyone, and that monogamy is right and best for many. Relationship choice is the mantra we want to repeat.
3. Insist on the part of the definition that stresses respect for everyone all around and the "full knowledge and consent of all involved";
4. Expand that to not just "knowledge and consent," but well-wishing and good intention for all involved. The defining aspect of polyamory, I'm convinced — the thing that sets it apart and makes it powerful and radical and transformative — is in seeing one's metamours not as rivals to be resented or even as neutral figures to be tolerated, but as, at minimum, reasonable friends or even extended family — for whom you genuinely wish good things. And beyond that, of course, there's no limit to how close you can become. This is what differentiates poly from merely having affairs: a sense that at least to some degree, “We’re all in this together.” When this happens, poly becomes a generalization of the magic of romantic love — into something wider, and more widely applicable, than the dominant paradigm of a couple carefully walling away their particular love from anything to do with the rest of humanity.
5. Warn people that, while poly can open extraordinary new worlds of joy and wonder and may help to humanize the world, its benefits must be earned: through courage, hard relationship-honesty work, self-examination, tough personal growth, and a quick readiness to (as they say in the Marines) "choose the difficult right over the easy wrong."
So please — with the bandwagon now starting to roll fast on its own momentum, let's not let it run away from us in the coming years to the point that "polyamory" goes mass-market as something careless or trivial, or in any way less than what we know it to be.*
* Spike Lee, I'm looking at you.