If you’re beginning to explore the wonderful queer world of polyamorous London, then here’s my guide to all the dating apps, events, podcasts and parties that you’ll probably want to know about. I only started fully embracing the polyamorous community a year ago, so I’m still new to it and will keep updating this list as I come across lovely and new things I think you should know about. While this list is very much London-centric, it will also be useful for a lot of people exploring polyamory across the UK. But before we get started, let’s talk about what non-monogamy is.
Please note: a couple of the party links below contain graphic content and may be NSFW (but most of them are fine).
What is polyamory?
Polyamory, ethical non-monogamy, open relationships… there are many terms to describe relationship models that fit under the non-monogamy umbrella, and they all mean slightly different things to everyone. If you are looking for a guide that defines different concepts and terms used to describe different types of non-monogamy, then I recommend this one on More Than Two.
At its very core, polyamory is a combination of the Greek word poly, meaning ‘many’ or ‘several’, and the Latin word amor, which means ‘love’. I think this is where I put the key difference between being poly and some other concepts of non-monogamy, such as certain open relationships or swinging: it’s about love. Having emotionally engaged, supportive relationships with multiple people, often simultaneously.
Although traditional monogamy sells the ‘one true love’ fantasy, the majority of monogamous people will have a series of romantic relationships throughout their life and love multiple people at different times. For me, polyamory embraces this admission that life is full of many loves and accepts that some of these can occur concurrently.
My relationship to polyamory
I am in no way an expert on non-monogamy – it’s only something I’ve started exploring in the past couple of years. I’ve made lots of classic transitioning to non-monogamy mistakes during that time as I slowly recalibrate my understanding of relationships. I am definitely in no position to give advice on non-monogamous relationships, I’m afraid and am still developing my own understanding of how polyamory works.
That said, I am enormously happy to now be living in a wonderfully colourful queer poly household, surrounded by sex-positive people who really care about each other. I get such a lovely swelling in my heart every time I come home to my two wonderful flatmates. It does mean that we have not one or two, but three copies of The Ethical Slut (which is kind of like the bible for polyamory) on our house bookshelf and way more toothbrushes than three people could ever need in our bathroom – but I wouldn’t have it any other way. So if, like me, you’re ready to start exploring polyamorous London, then here are some places my queer poly friends and I would recommend that you start.
Polyamorous London meetups and events
If you’re interested in meeting other poly people as friends and to discover a sense of community, then here are some of the meet-ups and events that take place in London.
The London Polyamory Meetup Group
This Meetup event takes place on the first Tuesday of every month at a Wetherspoons pub in central London. Doesn’t sound very sexy right? That’s because it’s not meant to be. These very casual drinks are meant for poly people to chat and make friends with others in the community.
I was really nervous the first time I went to these drinks. I thought it would be full of lots of creepy people and I promised myself that all I had to do was stay for one drink and then could run away. What I discovered was a whole load lovely friendly people who were just there to have a quiet drink with other like-minded non-monogamists. It’s never felt like a predatory environment and I have really benefitted from being able to chat to other people about my poly relationship experiences each month.
It can be a bit nerve-racking the first time you turn up as there are a lot of people and it can be really hard to find a chair sometimes. You really just need to sit down anywhere, say hello and meet the people around you. However, I know for some people that new social situations like this can be quite intimidating. Perhaps try one of their smaller meets first, like the Poly Women’s Group or Poly Coffee meet (great for people who don’t drink), and make some friends here first.
This annual event takes place in London every October and apparently is the largest of its kind in Europe. I can’t tell you what it’s like because I’m going for the first time today, so I’ll be updating this blog soon with more information about what to expect!
According to their website, this event attracts a couple of hundred people and involves a series of talks that cover topics about relationship structures, mental/sexual health, identities, power and privilege. There is also a speed friending session this year too. I’m really interested to see what it is like.
Polyamory dating apps
One of the easiest and most transparent ways to meet other non-monogamous people in London (and beyond) is on dating apps. While there sadly aren’t any great poly dating sites currently, there are definitely some apps that allow you to be very upfront about your relationships. Here’s a list of some of the most popular apps and what they are best for.
Widely considered to be one of the best apps for open relationships and non-monogamous dating, OK Cupid works on a platform that matches people based on their profile categories (such as sexuality, gender identity and relationship status) and their answers to questions about their life, giving people a percentage match based on their algorithm of compatibility.
I find OKCupid the best app because there are a lot of non-monogamous people on there and it lets you filter out anyone who identifies as straight. As someone who only dates other queer-identified people, this is a huge benefit for me, so I don’t have spend hours scrolling through straight men. Plus, you can link your profile to one of your partners, which helps build a clearer picture of your non-monogamy status I think.
This app was originally launched as 3nder, positioning itself as the Tinder for matching couples with people interested in threesomes (or moresomes). Since rebranding as Feeld, this app is now quite popular with people interested in ‘polyamory, kink, and alternative sexual preferences’.
It’s quite a popular app now but the biggest downside for me is that you can’t filter by sexuality, so most of my time on here has been spent scrolling a the predominantly large amount of straight men. This app also feels like much more of a hook-ups app, so less people looking for anything long-term and no category for non-monogamous (as they probably figure no one on this app is perhaps?). The upside is that you can link your profile with one of your other partners so it at least helps to indicate that you are non-monogamous.
This women-only dating app recently updated their app to make it more inclusive of different identities and relationship models. This was definitely a great move towards making Her a lot more relevant for queer women, and while I am yet to meet anyone great from this app I really appreciate that everyone’s profiles are now a lot clearer about what they currently have and what they are ideally looking for
Tinder and Hinge
I only use Tinder for women, as you can’t filter by anything apart from gender (only men, women or both) – and, unlike Feeld, this app is much more an open playing field, with a whole load of very straight monogamous people on there. I’ve met some great women and queer people who have been poly or open to non-monogamy on there. But it’s really is much more of a hook-ups app, with lots of people adding little to no info about themselves on there, so you have to be really overt in your profile.
For me, Hinge isn’t that different to Tinder. The profile set-up does mean you have to add a little info about yourself but aside from that, the app has a pretty similar structure with a broad pool of people that you can’t filter apart from gender.
Polyamorous podcasts and blogs
A lot of the content you will find online about polyamory is created by North Americans. Obviously, there’s nothing wrong with this as the US and Canada have a big non-monogamous community and a lot of these blogs and podcasts offer excellent guidance and advice about polyamory.
However, I am definitely keen to find more of a local, British perspective on this and have been hunting for podcasts and blogs by people in the UK for some time, without much luck. The only one I have come across is the Non-Monogamous Help podcast (available on Apple, Google and Spotify), which is put together by the fascinating Lola Phoenix, who is actually themselves North American but based in London.
I’ll keep updating this list with more podcasts and blogs from and about polyamorous London (and the UK) as I come across them.
Sex-positive events in London
Aside from poly-specific events, London has a range of sex-positive events, from talks to life-drawing classes to play parties, that are often a great way to meet other non-monogamous people.
Kink community play parties
There are many play parties that cater to the general BDSM and kink communities, with Klub Verboten, Crossbreed and, of course, Torture Garden being some of the most popular. There are also lots of kink-specific play parties for queers, such as Savage Dreams, Bi-Kink Club and the mostly men-only Hard On Club (although some queer women do go here too).
Although I’ve been to many kink community parties over the last 15 years in London, I’m not heavily into kink so I can’t really comment on what they are like, but these are definitely the parties that I hear about the most about.
Sex-positive play parties
While London has many overtly-hetero swinger parties, like Killing Kittens, Pleasure Island Parties and ZDR, there are some more queer-friendly ones too. Skirt Club is a very luxe international private members club for bisexual women that hosts some play parties in London. Risque is a new play party that has a very queer-inclusive membership policy, so I’m excited to check it out sometime in the next couple of months (and update this blog about it).
The London branch of Kinky Salon (an international movement of social/artistic/sexual salon-style parties – quite like the film Shortbus) was a huge part of the queer poly play party scene for many years. While they sadly had to stop doing parties a few years ago, they still do the occasional social event, so it still worth signing up for their mailing list.
A few of the founding members of the Kinky Salon’s London branch went on to create The Summer House Weekend (and The Winter House Weekend), which I haven’t been to yet but I hear really great things about. These events aren’t in London, they’re in the countryside but are always accessible by train. They are popular because they combine workshops, talks, hot tubs, parties and play spaces, which makes for a pretty amazing weekend apparently.
Other social events
Here is a list of other events in London that are either creative, intimate/sensual, body-positive or queer and are often great for meeting other people who are non-monogamous:
If you have any other suggestions about polyamorous London, comment below or drop me an email to let me know!