January 17, 2013 by aggiesez
In just a few days I’ve already gathered over 100 responses to my new survey about nonstandard relationships. I designed this survey to gather first-person experiences and some data for an upcoming book I’m writing with Lily Lloyd about approaches to relationships that are somehow off society’s standard relationship escalator norm: strictly monogamous, lifelong cohabitating partners (married or equivalent, perhaps with kids) or relationships that are clearly progressing toward that goal.
So far I’ve been struck by this initial result: Nearly half of respondents so far do NOT live with any of their lovers, spouses, or partners! As I write this, that’s a sample of 51 out of 111 total responses.
All of these people are somehow off the relationship escalator. Many of these respondents do have at least one primary partner, but they just don’t live together. Others only have non-primary relationships or no current relationships at all.
Here’s some initial data about this group:
- Who DO they live with? 35% live alone. Slightly more (37%) live with friends, roommates, family of choice or intentional community (but not a lover, partner, or spouse). One fourth live with kids or family (but not a lover, partner or spouse).
- Wouldn’t they rather be living with a lover, partner, or spouse? Not necessarily. Just over 30% said no. Exactly the same percentage said they’d probably want to live with a partner someday, but that’s not currently a high priority. Nearly one in five said they’d be happy either way. Only one in ten said they strongly desire to live with a partner, and making that happen is a high priority for them. Also, 8% aren’t sure.
- Are they in relationships at all? The vast majority (about 85%) say they are currently in at least one significant intimate relationship. But about 15% are not — and among these people, not one reported that finding a significant partner is is a high priority for them! (So much for the myth that unpartnered people must be desperate to find a partner!) Half said they’re fine either way — someday having a significant partner, or not. And one-third said they hope to eventually have at least one significant intimate relationship, but right now finding that is not a high priority.
- Age. So far (and remember, it’s still early yet), the largest portion of respondents who don’t live with a lover/partner (40%) are age 18-29. One third are 30-39, and nearly a quarter are 40-49.
- Geography. Typically, the smaller your town, the smaller your dating pool. Conversely, in places where lots of people live, it’s usually easier to find people who are amenable to off-escalator relationships. But respondents who don’t live with a lover are partner appear to live in all kinds of places. A majority (40%) live in densely populated large cities or urban areas; one quarter each live in suburbia or in smaller cities or college towns. Nearly one in ten live in rural areas or exurbs.
- Sex, gender, and attraction. As with the survey responses overall, the vast majority of respondents who don’t currently live with a lover or partner are female (75%). Over 80% are cisgendered. About 45% each say they are either primarily straight or primarily bi/pansexual.
As I do more to do more outreach for this survey beyond the poly/open community, I expect we’ll hear from more males, as well as more people who are not cisgendered or who are primarily gay/lesbian or asexual. If you know of people, forums, or communities who match these so-far-underrepresented demographics, and who are also in (or open to) non-standard relationship approaches, please do suggest that they take my survey! We’ll be collecting responses for at least the next couple of months.
Again, this initial snapshot of off-escalator people who don’t live with a lover, partner, or spouse is strictly preliminary. Expect these numbers to change. But still: even these results seem to undermine some stereotypes that exist even within the poly community about people who happen, or choose, to live apart from their intimate partners.