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In our Love App-tually series, Mashable shines a light into the foggy world of online dating. It is cuffing season after all. One in five Americans have engaged in consensual non-monogamy. And yet, there are no good dating apps for non-monogamous people. To clarify, there are a of terms to describe different relationships involving more than two people.
There is no one way to be non-monogamous or polyamorous; here is a primer with different terms and types of more-than-two relationships. Some people are in romantic partnerships with one person and sexual partnerships with others; some are in romantic and sexual partnerships with more than one partner — every non-monogamous relationship is unique. Google search for non-monogamy and polyamory have soared in recent years, as have coverage of these relationships in the media. As a twenty-something queer woman with a TinderI've also personally seen interest spike.
Many of the apps used by the non-monogamous community are "trash" or solely for sex, said Steve Dean, online dating consultant at Dateworking. Feeld is another one that falls into the hooking up category. Then there is openan app that claims to be an inclusive community for any type of user. Additionally, 37 percent of the profiles on open are partnered profiles and 60 percent of those are confirmed partners.
While open sounds like a solution to the gap in the market, its user experience leaves something to be desired. She told me that she found it too buggy to use. InOkCupid added a feature for polyamorous couples. It subsequently replaced its "open relationship" status option with the term "non-monagamous.
When OkCupid added the specific non-monogamous feature init actually made the experience worse. Now, users are only allowed to link to one. OKCupid's spokesperson didn't respond to questions about these changes. When you message someone new on OKC now, the note goes in a queue and the receiver has to swipe. Winston said she and others she knows left OkCupid when it switched to the swipe model and when it required real names on profiles; these changes were implemented inas well. In the past year, less than one percent of users in the United States who ed OKC are looking for a non-monogamous relationship, and this percentage reflects international users, too.
So while it has made efforts to include non-monogamous users, a relatively small amount of people are actually looking for that on OKC; and Dean and Winston are not satisfied with the offerings anyway. And forget about Tinder. Many profiles of women I come across on Tinder are not queer women — or at least, they are not single queer women. The phrase unicorn hunting itself is pejorative.
Winston understands why people would unicorn hunt. This can, however, be a slippery slope into insidious behavior. If a man in a heterosexual relationship claims he wants his girlfriend to explore her bisexuality with another woman but has a problem if that woman is trans, for example, he just went from zero to transphobic real quick. Winston would like to see an element of some in-person polyamorous parties to be translated into an app: stickers that make it clear what someone is looking for.
That way you easily figure out who is open to new partners, who is single, who wants to date as a couple, and the like.
Dean echoed the desire to incorporate components from real-life meetups, such as play parties, into an app. A sense of community similar to the offline non-monogamous community would be powerful, he said. He suggested incorporating a network referral system. This brings to mind the question of whether the non-monogamous community needs an app at all, especially if there are real-life meetups where connections blossom. Despite the negatives of dating app culturethey do have their benefits.
There is evidence that relationships formed on apps are strongerpartially because they are more compatible. Apps allow you to "meet" people you would not gravitate towards in real life; they encourage you to look outside your usual type.
Then there's the convenience. On nights you don't want to attend a party and actually interact with other humans — even if you want to connect — apps are there. You can expand your social circle from the comfort of your own bed. Furthermore, the dating app landscape is cluttered with hundreds of dating apps at our disposal, from the giants like Tinder to the niche ones like J Swipe. Shouldn't non-monogamous people have an app of their own?
The idea of an app for non-monogamous people itself is unique, and Winston feels like that itself would be a plus. It made her more intentional with her swiping — swiping on who she wants to talk to rather than just to get a match — and it cut down unwanted messages from men.
While gendered, this feature could potentially cut down unwanted messages on an app aimed at non-monogamous people as well, she said. The dream of a non-monogamous dating app may be far off, however. Dean noted it would be difficult to get an app like this off the ground partly because advertisers, Facebook, and Instagram would block it. Developers would need to market it as a broader social media app.
Getting funding may also pose a challenge. And whether online or off, you must talk to your partner s about what you want out of non-monogamy, Winston added.
No matter what features an app has, good communication is imperative in any relationship — especially if there are several people involved. Fine break up with me, but let me keep Instagramming your dog. What the hell is Ghost Exorcism Day? How to revive Craigslist's Missed Connections.
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