What TikTok Taught Me About Ethical Non-Monogamy

I would need more Tupperware

Man and two beautiful women sitting on bench in park. Polyamory concept
foolish little polyanna

On TikTok, if I develop a fleeting interest for a few hours, the auto-play algorithm decides, in its infinite wisdom, to show me only content on that topic for months. Recently, I’ve landed face-down ass-up on the highly defensive (but pretending to be nonchalant) ethical non-monogamist track (and also unrelated: fishtail braid tutorials). These videos often feature dead-eyed throuples dancing with only their hands and shoulders, proving how much of a sexually active blast they’re having together. More often, just one elected spokesperson from the triad is nominated to represent the entire group on camera, playing both himself and his perceived anti-poly naysayer in a battle of wits about why the lifestyle is actually highly evolved, always with the cadence of a sweaty used car salesman.

These videos — typically though not always consisting of one man and two women in a throuple or a man and woman looking for a third (usually a woman) to join their relationships — can be either straightforwardly instructional or comedy-adjacent, but notably, they are always always combative in tone. If you believe the members of these online polycules, they are the most put-upon people in the world.

For what it’s worth, I’m not morally opposed to non-monogamy between consenting adults, despite the makers of these videos always assuming I’ve got to be some belligerent, marriage-obsessed viewer. I’m opposed to smarminess, mostly.

I do, in fact, have an open mind and an open heart, and I have learned a lot over the past few months. In honor of Valentine’s Day, and in the spirit of sharing, of course, here’s what I’ve learned from the TikTok non-monogamous community on how I can invite a little more love into my life.

Ethical Non-Monogamy Is Eating Leftovers

A fount of humor that the TikTok ENM community drinks from repeatedly is “my lover went on a date and brought me leftovers.” Sometimes a variation on this bit is “my lover went on a date and didn’t bring me leftovers.” Other times, the partner and their other lover will cook together in the kitchen instead of dining out, and bring food left over from that date into the other room for the third to eat.

Ethical Non-Monogamy Is Monstrous Contempt Barely Concealed By Playful Ribbing

Another cornerstone of the TikTok ENM world seems to be holding one another prisoner with your lifestyle, but concealing that pain with playful (always very funny!) teasing. This is particularly true when the ENMers’ partners find someone new to have sex with.

Ethical Non-Monogamy Is Being a Career Academic

None of this is about sex, it’s about reading theory and going to therapy. This isn’t supposed to be fun.

Ethical Non-Monogamy Is Talking About How You’re Having Sex. I Am Unclear on How Much It Involves Actually Having It Rather Than Talking About Having It.

This community talks A LOT about the logistics surrounding fucking, but I sense very little sensuality emanating from any of their poly pores. I’m not necessarily asking for proof – I’m not a sicko, plus I’m pretty sure I could easily access examples of non-monogamous sex by typing “threesome sex” into Google– simply I’m stating what I’ve observed.

Ultimately, Ethical Non-Monogamy Is Content

When my favorite ENM duo/music partners “Dana and the Wolf” made a 7-part (and counting) series reenacting the time one of them gave their number to a girl at an Indian restaurant, everything clicked. ENM is content. More people equals more bits.

I do implore you to watch the full series here.