Should Facebook Add Polyamory As A Relationship Status Option?

After Facebook added a laundry list of gender identity options, the social network was congratulated for acknowledging those off the male-female binary — but another, perhaps even larger group of users who are similarly not served by binary options and identify as polyamorous are hoping they too will get some profile options.

Facebook initially did not have default options for gay users to “marry” one another in the manner of being “Facebook official.” And as Facebook status acknowledgment becomes ever larger as a factor in personal lives, users who support polyamory and-or engage in it believe that it’s only fair they too be able to list and acknowledge all their partners officially as a portion of their Facebook profile.

Of course, an argument can be made (and I myself have often made it) that the insistence grown adults have in validating their relationships in such a strangely exhibitionist manner is plainly weird. Nothing feels more teenage to me personally than qualifying and quantifying a relationship through public validation, on Facebook or elsewhere. (But I am in the clear minority here.)

That said, visibility was a massive portion — perhaps the largest bit — of bringing gay Americans fully into the mainstream. It’s only in my lifetime that people were publicly out in every day life and in the media, and polyamory does not get any incidental visibility in this regard — which is to say if you know polyamorous people, chances are you don’t know you know them because a great many remain “closeted” for fear of social stigma or worse.

As such, it’s difficult to gauge just how many Americans happily live a consensually non-monogamous life. Estimates have been in the two to three percent range, but it’s likely a far larger number either do not report their alternate romantic relationships or even do not recognize that their partnerships technically fall outside standard monogamous couplings.

For a while, a growing Facebook group titled “Facebook Should Recognize Polyamory!” has accumulated members, and several thousand now belong to the group — which hopes to inspire the social network to grant poly people partner options under the relationship status function.

A Change.org petition also calls for Facebook to add poly relationships, and it reads:

“Facebook currently allows people to name one person they’re in a relationship with despite the growing numbers of polyamorous and non-monogamous members. Some people identify as loving more than one person or as being ‘many loving.’ We appreciate and thank Facebook for their recent change in allowing all people to put their own gender identities. We ask that they have the same respect for people of all relationship types. They deserve the basic right to be honest about who they care about. Please sign this petition to allow those in open relationships to name their partners truthfully as everybody else does.”

However, the Facebook polyamory discussion moved out of specialized groups this week and over to The Week, where the site makes an argument for allowing a polyamorous Facebook option — suggesting the move is inevitable, despite low acceptance of non-monogamy in public sentiment:

“But society’s approval of multi-partner relationships is still low. Polling done by Gallup last year revealed that while 59 percent of Americans considered homosexual relations morally acceptable, just 14 percent approved of polygamy. (It should be noted that polyamory differs from polygamy in that it allows for multiple male partners as well as female, and so is generally considered more egalitarian.)”

Do you think Facebook needs a “polyamorous” option? Is polyamory the next frontier in relationships, fated to go mainstream?

[Image: World Polyamory Association]