I had fully intended for my first post on this blog to be a history of how my husband and I discovered polyamory. Little did I know, the whole world was about to shut down because of a novel virus, and it seems almost silly not to write about what’s going on now. I hope everyone out there is staying in and staying safe. Here are my list of pros and cons of being poly during COVID-19. (Caveat: this is written from my perspective as a stay-at-home mom with two live-in partners, one of whom works at home and the other who works outside the home but not on the frontlines of this pandemic. I do understand that not everyone is in my position and most have it harder during this time.)
So, the government is telling us to stay home as much as possible and limit our visits with others. There are articles talking about why we should limit playdates between children (Romper, CNN). And honestly, the main point of those articles also applies to why we need to limit adult playdates with other partners (if that partner you go to see was just at the grocery store surrounded by 20 other people, you’ve now been exposed to all of those germs plus the germs of whoever those 20 other people had been in contact with, etc.) Of course, many of these articles say playdates between 2-3 kids with no symptoms is fine with proper precautions and hygiene (NYT, USA Today). However, I personally disagree. I say limit all contact if you can. There’s no point exposing your family to the virus and risking spreading it all about just because you want to be social.
Deepen relationships (if that’s what you’re into)
So, here we are, quarantined in our homes, stuck with our partners, kids, pets, etc., and let me tell you, I think this is a great thing. It’s only been a couple of days into the call to stay home and I already feel like I’m bonding more with my partners and my children. I feel like life has slowed down; there is less to worry about in terms of ‘am I taking my kids enough places to enrich their lives?’ and ‘am I spending enough time with each partner?’ Right now, there is no choice but to stay home and chill with them, so it takes the mommy and partner guilt straight away!
I feel like I’ve been able to really enjoy these days with my toddler without feeling guilty or feeling like there’s more I should be doing (which speaks more to the things I need to work on in my internal life than anything). Yes, there has definitely been an increase in screen time, but we’ve also played together a lot more than in a normal day. I do not feel like there are a million tasks that I must get done before tomorrow, because tomorrow I’ll still be stuck here in the house again. So, without a million things on my mind, I can focus on playing with my toddler and really get lost in the fun. I can sit and play farm animals and Hot Wheels without being distracted by the thought of needing to pack his lunch for school tomorrow or make sure the laundry is done (because we can wear pajamas indefinitely).
I also feel like I’ve had more time to bond with my partners with whom I live. With events and sports cancelled, there is more time to talk and spend time together. There’s more time to cuddle and watch movies, like Contagion and Outbreak, and then have long discussions about how they relate to life now. You get to learn more about your partner(s) and how they react in tough situations. You get to plan out the fun things you want to do together once this all is over.
More time to get things done
With more people home and less outside obligations, there’s more getting done at home. I feel like over the next few weeks, we will be able to finish a few household projects that have been on hold for months because we’ve been too busy. I might actually catch up on chores for once (but I won’t hold my breath – living with two partners, a toddler, an infant, a dog, and two cats means the laundry, chewed up messes, spills, and accidents are magnified). I’m also finding more time to sit and work on my blog, more time to listen to audiobooks, and more time to practice self-care.
More income in uncertain times
If all of your cohabitating partners and yourself are lucky enough to work in industries that are not being limited by the pandemic, then you are also lucky enough to have increased economic stability during this time. During normal times, one of the pros of living polyamorously is having increased household income. So, naturally, that extends to a time like this. And in an uncertain economic and social climate like we are in now, it is even nicer than normal to have the extra stability.
Can’t see partners you don’t live with in person (but, hey, you can still video chat, right?)
I feel bad because my husband just officially started dating his girlfriend a few days before this whole thing started, and now they will not be able to hang out for quite a while (we both have multiple adults and children in our households, so there’s no point in increasing our exposure risk just for them to hang out). This is the biggest con to both polyamorous people and monogamous people who do not cohabitate. And to those of you who are going to go weeks and maybe months without being able to see any partners, I am truly sorry. The distance is going to take a toll on some relationships, but there are things you can do to stay connected: texting, calling, video chatting, tagging them in funny memes on Facebook.
More people home to make messes
So, I talked in the pros section about more people being home to help clean and do chores. On the flip side, more people being home also means more messes. More people eating at home creates more dishes and more garbage, more spills, more food dropped on the floor. I’m still trying to assess whether there’s going to be more or less laundry to do, but I can tell you that there are already more pieces of clothing being left all over the house. As a mom, I know there are going to be more toy and food messes to clean up, just from the mere fact that my toddler is not at his morning school program and instead is here, wreaking havoc.
Contamination risks go up
The more adults you have in your household that must work outside the home, the more risk you have of contracting the virus. It’s just simple statistics. I’m lucky that one of my partners works from home, so I don’t have to worry about him bringing the virus back. Though my other partner works outside the home, so I am worried about him contaminating the household. For those of you with partners that work in the healthcare field or any field on the frontlines of this pandemic, you are at an even higher risk.
More people to support if some lose jobs
For many job industries, this national shutdown is taking a huge toll. Waitresses, bartenders, beauticians, and other service workers are losing income. In a poly family, or any family really, this can cause tension and issues. If one partner is out of work, the other(s) may have to support that person for a while. This can cause economic hardships that you may not have been expecting when you entered into this type of relationship. You may have to help these other people pay their car bills, provide them with food to eat, and assist in taking care of their children.
Of course, these are just a snippet of the pros and cons that exist during this interesting time we live in. Feel free to email me ([email protected]) or comment any other ideas you have, and I’ll incorporate them into a follow-up article as we get deeper into this time of limited interaction.