Vaccine rollouts bring hope that the end of social distancing is near for countries still battling the COVID-19 pandemic. However, until the virus’s spread is truly under control, poly folk must continue to assess risk and have frank conversations about keeping those in our partner networks safe.
Fortunately, polyamorous people tend to be well-versed communicators and at least somewhat familiar with risk mitigation. Most I’ve spoken with have figured out what works for them, with renegotiations along the way, of course.
For those still navigating the poly-while-social-distancing puzzle, here are some things to keep in mind.
First thing’s first: yes, you should adhere to mandates.
In the strictest sense, good social distancing means only ever coming in close contact with people you live with. That means masking up and staying at least six feet away from anyone not living in your household.
Different regions have different rules depending on how severe a local outbreak is. Close-contact gatherings of less than 10 people from 2 households may be permitted in some places, for example.
While mandates help reduce risk, there’s no way to guarantee someone won’t catch COVID-19 if anyone in their pod or bubble comes into close contact with an infected person, especially if they’re not vaccinated. Much like the pullout method, imperfect execution increases the odds of undesired results. Social distancing works best when everyone in your bubble sticks only to the bubble.
Bottom line: stay aware of local mandates and talk to those in your pod about clear communication, trust, and honesty about potential exposures.
Take a page from the long-distance handbook.
For solo poly people living alone and working from home, social isolation mandates are tough. Many were forced into “virtual mode” and long-distance relationships.
Virtual sex parties, nude photo shoots, and new sex toys were all the rage to scratch the erotic itch. More importantly, however, non-sexual check-ins, synced Netflix binging, and online games provided necessary entertainment, bonding, and stress relief for poly people keeping bonds strong.
Social distancing isn’t a relationship death sentence for all partnerships. With the technology available today, long-distance relationships are the most bearable they’ve ever been.
Let social distancing be a source of creative inspiration.
Depending on your region’s mandates, there’s a chance you can see non-cohabitating partners in person as long as you stay 6 feet apart and masked (and actually keep your hands off each other).
Ideally, this happens outdoors. When that’s not possible, do what you can to increase ventilation and create maximum reasonable distance between yourselves.
There’s a lot you can do from 6 feet apart! Spend time sitting at the park or in a yard. Bring favorite books, art, music, or poetry to share while you’re there—bonus points if it’s erotic and/or your own creative work.
If one of your homes has enough room, spread out for a distanced movie or game night. Feel like getting it on? Masturbate in front of one another, engage in consensual voyeurism or exhibitionism with or without your other partners, or buy remote controlled sex toys for one another.
Bottom line: the only limit to being poly while social distancing is your imagination!
Don’t forget the “amory”.
Much of this advice is focused on overcoming the sexual barriers of social distancing. However, it’s important to remember that most polyamorous people desire loving relationships with their partners that go beyond sex, so there’s much more to consider when it comes to making sure all partners feel safe and cared for.
Keep yourself, your partners, and your community safe by following social distancing mandates. The more we do our part, the sooner we’ll be out on the other side.