In American society, many are fine with the idea that platonic love is endless, but romantic love is finite. It is common for people to say they love multiple family members or friends. However, moral panic tends to ensue when someone says that they are deeply in love with multiple romantic partners—and everyone knows about each other. But how common is desire for and engagement in committed sexual and romantic relationships with multiple people at the same time, which is called polyamory? A study by researchers at Indiana University’s Kinsey Institute and Chapman University found that willingness to engage and previous engagement in polyamory are common. Using a national sample of 3,438 single people in the U.S., researchers asked people to describe their desire for, previous engagement in, and attitudes toward polyamory. Approximately 1 in 6 people reported that they would like to engage in polyamory, and 1 in 9 people have engaged in polyamory at some point during their life. But while desire for and previous engagement in polyamory are seemingly commonplace among Americans, researchers say polyamorous relationships are highly stigmatized. Among people who were not personally interested in polyamory, only 14.2 percent reported that they respect people who engage in polyamory. Researchers say polyamorous relationships are viewed as low in relationship quality, immoral, harmful to children, and a host of other negative associations. However, researchers say people engaged in polyamory report similar levels of passionate love, attachment, and satisfaction across multiple partners. Moreover, people engaged in polyamorous relationships and monogamous relationships report similar levels of relationship quality, such as commitment and satisfaction. Furthermore, researchers say people also stereotype those engaged in polyamory as responsible for spreading sexually transmitted infections. Although people engaged in polyamory tend to have a greater number of sexual partners, they practice safer sex strategies than people in monogamous relationships and report similar rates of contracting STIs as people in monogamous relationships, according to researchers. Researcher Amanda Gesselman says , the unprecedented social pause from COVID-19 has caused a lot of people to do some deep introspection about what they want in a romantic partner and what kind of relationship they want to pursue when it’s safe to do so. Polyamorous relationships are a common consideration now for singles who are ready to get out and date, she says. These 18 months of reflection have helped people understand their own specific needs from a partner and has led some to understand that they would thrive with more than one meaningful connection in their life.
In other news, since the COVID-19 virus began to spread widely in the United States in March 2020, Asian Americans have been blamed for the ills of the pandemic. They have been targets of harassment, verbal and physical attacks, and hate incidents based on the false connections made between the origins of the virus in Wuhan, China, and Asian Americans in the United States. However, Dina Okamoto, director of the Center for Research on Race and Ethnicity in Society at IU, says this bias is not new, but rather part of a pattern of hate incidents targeting Asian Americans across the country and a larger history of anti-Asian sentiment and violence. In fact, since their first major wave of immigration into the country in the mid-1800s, Okamoto says Asian immigrants have been racialized as perpetual foreigners, unfair economic competitors, carriers of disease, sexualized objects, and disposable labor. Based upon these stereotypes, Okamoto says legislators and public officials constructed racist narratives, fomented xenophobic and anti-Asian sentiments, and implemented restrictive and discriminatory policies. In fact, Okamoto says the term Asian-American is a socially constructed idea that racially categorizes groups that actually have no natural or biological affinity. In the 1960s, Asian activists built a political movement based on the shared experiences and struggles of Asian ethnic groups in the U.S., developing the new panethnic label and identity that continues. Today, the term “Asian American” is a racial category that advocates use to seek change and build political power. Okamoto says that is why it is imperative that we all learn about the demographics, histories, and contemporary experiences of the different national-origin groups that comprise Asian America and that we move beyond the model-minority myth and other false narratives, toward a more complex understanding of the Asian population. It is only with this complex understanding, she says, that we can make sense of the broader context of recent anti-Asian hate incidents.