Are Millennials the Polyamorous Generation?

Are Millennials the Polyamorous Generation?

Nearly half of millennials desire a polyamorous relationship. Or so the results of a YouGov study claims.

According to the 2016 findings, little over half of all millennials were looking for total monogamy in relationships – meaning 49% of this age group are open to the idea polyamory.

But firstly, what exactly does this mean?


Polyamory is nothing new. Humans have always had relationships outside of the ‘traditional’ monogamy. Polyamory and its married relation polygamy has existed throughout history, in various places and times.

It has roots in religion, namely the Bible. In the time of the Old Testament, Solomon and had his 700 wives and he was far from alone!

Christianity is not the only religion to mention polyamory in some form or other, so does Hinduism (albeit, not any longer) and Islam, with polygyny being permitted in the Quran.

Of course, polygyny -or polygamy –is not the only example of polyamory.  In today’s polyamorous relationships, anything goes. Partners may be either married or not, straight, gay or bi and either one or both parties can participate.

 The key to these relationships is honesty; and that both parties go into the situation with their eyes open.


The stats around polyamory and the younger generation make for interesting reading.

Once dismissed as a fad, or self-indulgence, it would seem that polyamory is in fact a real “thing” and that it is here to stay.

  • 4-5% (approx.) of people are in polyamorous relationships within the US.
  • 1 in 5 Americans have tried some form of polyamorous relationship.
  • 17% of 18-44 year olds have had sex with someone else with their partner’s consent.
  • Over a quarter (28%) of American adults think monogamy is not natural.
  • Just under a third (29%) of young millennials aged under 30 believe polyamorous relationships are ethical.
  • Only 51% of millennials overall think the ideal relationship should be monogamous.
  • 40% of millennials under 30 are in some form of polyamorous relationship.
  • Only 6% of the boomer generation (over 65s) think that polyamory is acceptable.


While there is still controversy about exactly who favors polyamory and who does not – some claiming it to be the preserve of rich, white liberals – one thing that can be ascertained is that polyamory exists on a sliding scale.

It is not helpful to think of it as a black or white thing, rather a shade of gray. Polyamory can mean anything from a one-off encounter (i.e. swinging) to sustained open relationships with multiple partners.

There is no defined way for a polyamorous relationship to be, it exists with the consent of both/all partners.


The jury is still out on exactly which groups are the most polyamorous. Different researchers claim varying things; that it is mainly white, college educated liberal, that more high earners practice polyamory and that fewer minorities participate.

It has been claimed it is more commonplace amongst gay and lesbian partnerships and also that it is more widespread on the left political spectrum.

All this remains up for debate, but the one thing that does seem undisputed is the ease in which the millennial generation has taken to the concept of multiple relationships.


Despite its popularity amongst millennials (or maybe, because of it) polyamory has wrongly been castigated as the ultimate in self indulgence. It is seen as immature and detrimental to stability and a bad environment in which to raise children.

It is fair to say that polyamory suffers from a bad press, not helped by the widespread number of cheating partners on dating apps claiming to be polyamorous – hint, it’s not polyamory if the other party disapproves!

However, as the trend for polyamorous relationships grows among the young, it seems destined to become more acceptable and even who knows, the new norm among the millennial generation.

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