February 1, 2021 – While the pandemic has complicated many relationships, being polyamorous amidst lockdowns and restrictions have created unique predicaments.
With social distancing and same household bubbles redefining intimacy, dating and sex, those who identify as having multiple consensual and loving relationships have reported feeling isolated being apart from their partners they don’t live with, or excluded if their partner chose to live with another person.
And with Valentine’s Day approaching on February 14 with much of the country in lockdown or with heavy social gathering restrictions in place, it may be yet another painful reminder of that isolation.
“Whether social distancing precludes holding someone close or travelling to see their smile, the impact on relationships can be heart-wrenching,” said Zoe Duff, spokesperson and coordinator of the Canadian Polyamory Advocacy Association (CPAA).
Polyamory is the practice, desire, or acceptance of having more than one intimate relationship at a time with the knowledge and consent of everyone involved. Concepts critical to the practice of consent and other ethical behaviours within polyamory are gender equality, self-determination, free choice for all involved, mutual trust, and equal respect among partners.
Further marginalizing this community is advice from public health officials, largely focused on traditional households. British Columbia’s Centre for Disease Control recommends “having one, or a few, regular sex partner(s) can help lower the chances of being exposed to COVID-19. Toronto Public Health suggests those who are polyamorous should consider “video dates, virtual sex, sexting or chat rooms instead of meeting people in person.”
That guidance has forced difficult and often heart-breaking decisions of choosing between partners from those who consider polyamory a fundamental part of their identity.
To add to the stigma of having more contact with people outside of a social bubble, a number of polyamorous people are reportedly afraid of telling friends and family of their status.
It was only recently in 2011, that BC’s Supreme Court released the landmark ruling that Section 293 of the Criminal Code of Canada (the so called “anti-polygamy law”) does not apply to unformalized polyamorous relationships, opening inroads into making polyamory more popular and accepted in mainstream society across Canada.
Since the pandemic began nearly a year ago, polyamorous people in Canada have turned to online groups for support.
“We encourage you to seek out online community groups from across Canada who support anxiety, guilt, or grief, and ease isolation while improving connections in your polyamory journey,” said Duff.
The CPAA maintains a list of Canadian online resources where people – who are already polyamorous or are just trying it out – can find community, support, and practical advise. See http://polyadvocacy.ca/find-poly-community/.
Recently, the University of Victoria created recommendations to help those in multi-partner relationships navigate COVID-19 guidelines and social bubbles.
The CPAA advocates on behalf of Canadians who practice polyamory. It promotes legal, social, government, and institutional acceptance and support of polyamory, and advances the interests of the Canadian polyamorous community generally.