Why is everyone, including Whoopi Goldberg, talking about polyamory?

Whoopi Goldberg hinted at past polyamory experiences as buzz around the relationship style builds.

Whoopi Goldberg, The View, Sunny Hostin, polyamory, Black polyamorous couples, Black love, theGrio.com
Whoopi Goldberg attends FGI Night of Stars 39th Annual Gala at The Plaza on October 17, 2023 in New York City. (Photo by Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images)

On Tuesday’s episode of “The View,” Whoopi Goldberg alluded to a past experience that was polyamorous in nature.

In defense of the relationship style, Goldberg told her co-hosts, “Listen, if you can do more than one thing at a time, you can have a polyamorous relationship. OK? If you can chew gum and walk, you can do more than one person.”

The declaration prompted co-host Sunny Hostin to suggest Goldberg must be “speaking from experience.” Goldberg met the assertion with, “If I seem like that, it’s because I’m good like that.”

The ladies of “The View” were discussing The Cut’s viral guide to polyamory, which was released earlier this week. The conversation around both the article itself and the topic has extended far beyond the ladies of “The View.” Polyamory is seemingly everywhere.  

Polyamory, defined as engaging in multiple romantic relationships at the same time with the consent of all parties, is not a new phenomenon in the slightest. However, in recent years, people have been opening up about their open relationships at a greater frequency — and Black people are no different. Some of the earliest commonplace dialogues about open relationships were often presented as a marriage-saver. Now, the concept has evolved to include more nuanced understandings.

From Amazon Prime’s “Harlem” and BET’s “The First Wives Club” to the failed “Gossip Girl” reboot, depictions of polyamory and open relationships have been cropping up in Black pop culture. Fans of HBO Max’s “Insecure” may recall when beloved character Molly had a tryst with a married man who claimed to be in an open marriage. TLC’s “Seeking Brother Husband,” a spinoff of the network’s longer-running “Seeking Sister Wife,” broke the internet when the network began teasing the reality show that follows multiple women in polyamorous relationships. 

The show prominently featured a memorable Black throuple (with room to grow) and caught many viewers’ attention because, for a change, it showed the relationship style from the perspective of women having multiple partners rather than the more familiar arrangement of a man with many partners. 

Several Black celebrities and influencers have also been open about their open or polyamorous relationships in recent years. 

In 2021, during an episode of Jada Pinkett Smith’s “Red Table Talk,” Willow Smith noted, “With polyamory, I feel like the main foundation is the freedom to be able to create a relationship style that works for you.” 

Roughly around the same time, speaking about his own polyamorous relationship, Willow’s father, Will Smith, spoke about his decades-long marriage to Pinkett Smith, telling GQ, “The experiences that the freedoms that we’ve given one another and the unconditional support, to me, is the highest definition of love.”

Nick Cannon, a father of 12, has also spoken out about practicing what’s known as “consensual non-monogamy.” The singer Kehlani, who has long been open about her sexuality and gender identity, has also expressed that she’s polyamorous.

Polyamory isn’t just big among reality TV stars and celebrities, though. According to a YouGov survey, roughly one-third of Americans describe their ideal relationship as not completely monogamous, indicating that conventional attitudes are changing. While the same survey found that 55% of Americans prefer monogamous relationships, judgment around open relationships and non-monogamy is lessening. 

Recommended Stories

During Tuesday’s episode of “The View,” even while noting the practice isn’t for her, Hostin conceded that those in polyamorous relationships must be more “evolved” than her. 

“I’m more cavewoman in my relationship,” she said. “It’s like, ‘You are mine’ … that’s more me. But what I don’t understand is some of these people are married, have children, and have jobs. How do you have the time to do that with let alone one man, [not to mention] several men or women? They are not only more evolved than I am, they have more energy!”

Goldberg noted to her fellow castmates, “You guys have to widen your arena of people that you know because it’s not just sleepy little towns.”

Kay Wicker is a lifestyle writer for theGrio covering health, wellness, travel, beauty, fashion, and the myriad ways Black people live and enjoy their lives. She has previously created content for magazines, newspapers, and digital brands. 

Never miss a beat: Get our daily stories straight to your inbox with theGrio’s newsletter.