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Masthead
Alpha: relationships

Silicon Valley's Sexual Revolution


By Julian Sanction
Illustration by Jochen Schievink
2 min

IN SILICON VALLEY, love's many splendors often take the form of, well, many lovers. For certain millennials in tech—as well as, rumor has it, a few middle-aged CEOs—polyamory holds especial appeal. Perhaps that's because making it work is as much an engineering challenge as an emotional one, requiring partners to navigate a complex web of negotiated arrangements. (There's an app to keep track of that, obvs: The Poly Life.) Some enthusiasts even claim it's the way of the future. “If life extension is possible, we might have to think about relationships differently,” says one Valley-based polyamorist. “It's pretty hard to have an exclusive relationship with someone for 300 years.” True that—but balancing multiple LTRs takes just as much dedication and discipline (if not more).

Rules of Polyamory

Tap OkCupid
Good old OkCupid is where you'll find a critical mass of polyamorous users. The app features questionnaires to help determine if the lifestyle is right for you, plus tools that make it easier to find other poly enthusiasts.
Study up
The gospel is Dossie Easton's 1997 book, The Ethical Slut. But more compelling to STEM-y polyamorists might be Sex at Dawn, which draws on primate physiology to prove that monogamy is, like, totally a construct.
Join the club
Some workplaces (coughGooglecough) have quasi-official poly clubs; you can also find meetups online. Just know there are plenty of subsets within the community, especially in California, so be prepared to discuss neopagan liturgies with Nebula Moon-Ostrich.
Don't be a letch
You shouldn't go to a get-together hoping to hook up. These are not orgies. (Though tech-nerd orgies do get pret-ty wild, what with the color-coded bracelets signaling what you're cool with doing/having done unto you.) And stick to your age bracket—restrictions are enforced to keep things comfortable.
Be honest (and avoid Manhattan)
Transparency is what separates polyamory from infidelity. It's also what makes it difficult. Thankfully, this is one area where the Valley's left-brained legions have an advantage. “Lying is unacceptable,” says Emily Witt, author of Future Sex. “In New York, playing people is much more normal."
Don't get jelly
No matter how rational you think you are, you're hardwired for jealousy. But you can stifle that instinct through frank discussion. Some polyamorists even show their primary partner the romantic texts and emails they send to other people. Sound awkward? Hey, relationships are work—and more relationships are more work.