Polyamorous relationships on the rise in Canada

Polyamorous relationships on the rise in Canada

Steph Davidson, a 41-year-old publicist who lives in Toronto, said she’s seeing more people in polyamorous relationships in her circles and on dating apps, but there’s acceptance and there’s broader social understanding and acceptance for this type. of emotional relationships.

When I started dating someone who wasn’t monogamous, my friends’ immediate reaction was to tell me, ‘you deserve everything from someone.’ Now they tell me, ‘I’m so happy for you, and this really seems to fit perfectly with who you are and the way you live.’

Polyamory is a form of chosen relationship in which everyone can have as many romantic partners as they want, according to Egale Canada, a 2SLGBTQ+ advocacy organization. There is knowledge and consent of all the people involved, who may live with one, several or no partners, explained the Canadian Polyamory Defense Association.

It is a form of consensual non-monogamy and one of the growing types of diverse families in Canada, says a report from the Vanier Family Institute, released last week.

The independent national think tank, which focuses on studying families and family life in Canada, cited a 2019 study from the Journal of Sex Research that says about one in five people in Canada have practiced consensual non-monogamy.

The Vanier Institute also notes that people who identify as 2SLGBTQ+ are more likely to have practiced consensual non-monogamy than people who identify as heterosexual.

The organization Egale Canada agrees with this data, explaining that people in polyamorous relationships They are free to express their sexuality regardless of gender.

Davidson, who is polyamorous, has had an anchor partner for just under two years. She prefers the word anchor rather major, since the latter implies a hierarchy. Do not live together. Additionally, it has several other relationships of various styles and depths.

Davidson identifies as queer, and while her anchor relationship is with a man, some of her other partners are women or non-binary people. She explained that she currently has four partners, including her anchor person, who in turn also has several partners.

There are different styles of polyamory. My partner and I tend to get to know each other’s partners, build relationships with the other people in their lives, and spend time together, but that’s not required.said.

It’s simply what works for everyone involved and what is comfortable for everyone.he added.

A consensual non-monogamous group.

A consensual non-monogamous group along with a pregnancy test.

Photo: iStock

There is a lack of data

Despite the growing popularity of polyamorous relationships, there is a data breach in this regard, since these types of relationships are not included in the census, noted the Vanier Institute. On the other hand, research is scarce.

The organization says more research is needed to Strengthen understanding of polyamorous families and ensure they are included in government laws and policies.

Although polyamory is different than open marriage, which is another type of consensual non-monogamy that generally involves a couple committed primarily to each other, but with sexual relations permitted outside of that relationship, research on open marriage provides insight into attitudes in around relationships outside of a traditional couple.

In 2023, the Pew Research Center in the United States found that 33 percent of adults surveyed said open marriages were acceptable. That proportion skyrocketed to 75 percent among 2SLGBTQ+ respondents. At the other extreme, only 29 percent of those who identified as heterosexual found open marriage acceptable.

The findings are based on a sample of 5,073 American respondents, with a margin of error of plus or minus 1.7 percentage points.

The Vanier Institute explains that polyamorous relationships are diverse. Some focus on long-term committed relationships with two or more people, while others may have a combination of short- and long-term relationships with varying degrees of intimacy and commitment.

It is an honest and open relationship style, and communication is key. Nobody tries to cheat on their partners. True polyamory isn’t about hiding things or cheating.

Polyamory is also different from polygamy, where one person is married to multiple others, which is illegal in Canada and is sometimes associated with religion.

Fingers representing a polyamorous family.

In 2018, three single adults in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador were declared legal parents of a child born into their polyamorous family, a legal first in Canada.

Photo: iStock / triloks

The law assumes two people in a relationship

Although polyamory may be on the rise in the country, Canadian law does not recognize intimate relationships between more than two people, explains the Vanier Institute, leaving people navigate and interact with systems and institutions that were not designed to support them.

The laws are responding to social trends and changes, such as having to adapt to the rise in common-law marriages, but there is still a significant lag, said John-Paul Boyd, a Calgary-based family lawyer and former executive director of Canadian Research. Institute for Law and the Family, the Canadian Law and Family Research Institute, which published its own research on polyamory in 2017.

If there is something in society that reflects the presumption of the dyadic relationship, it is the law. There is a kind of built-in assumption, explicit and implicit, that relationships are only between two people.

That presumption applies to all aspects of the law, whether it’s looking at the Canada Pension Plan, or the way employment insurance benefits are calculated, or who you can name as a beneficiary to receive health and dental care. Boyd said.

Furthermore, only people who meet the legal definition of a spouse or common-law partner are entitled to property rights or to seek spousal support, the lawyer added.

Some provinces, such as British Columbia, have changed their laws to give common-law couples the same property rights as legally married couples.

Then there’s the question of how many guardians a child of people living in a polyamorous relationship can have, something that also varies by province, Boyd said. But some recent cases have helped expand the law.

In 2018, three single adults in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador were declared legal parents of a child born into their polyamorous family, a legal first in Canada. Then, in 2021, a British Columbia Supreme Court judge ordered that all three members of a polyamorous family be registered as the parents of the child they were raising together as a family.

To put it bluntly, the legislature did not consider polyamorous familiesJudge Sandra Wilkinson said in that decision.

There have also been some recent legal developments in Latin America, where polyamory has also been reported to be on the rise.

In 2017, three men from Medellín, Colombia, became the first legally recognized polyamorous family in that country. In 2022, a judge in Buenos Aires, Argentina, issued a ruling that legally allowed a child born in a polyamorous relationship to have two dads and one mom.

That same year, a judge in Mexico said that I couldn’t find any constitutional reason why marriage should only be between two peopleaccording to a report from Mexico News Daily.

Planning and consent

Attorney Boyd said he is also seeing an increase in polyamorous relationships, and the fact that there are sometimes legal complications for those involved is important, but not serious enough to prevent those types of relationships from moving forward.

That’s because most people who engage in long-term polyamorous relationships have already talked about how their relationship will work, she said, including expectations, arrangements and legal outcomes.

Honesty and informed consent are critical to these relationships, where there aren’t the same types of social assumptions found in a traditional couple, Boyd said.

Frankly, I wish more people entering dyadic relationships had those kinds of discussions.said the lawyer.

Steph Davidson said open communication is key to making your relationships work.

We’re all just trying to create a relationship style that works for us and doesn’t hurt other people.said the Canadian polyamorous woman.

Source: CBC / N. Stechyson

Adaptation: RCI / R. Valencia

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