What’s Sex Got to Do With… Significant Others?

Polyamory, what is it and who is involved? Polyamory is a different take on relationships, “in which people have multiple romantic, sexual, and/or affective partners”, according to Elizabeth Sheff. In her article Sheff describes a multitude of polyamorous couplings and styles, ranging from two women and a man in a loving relationship, to husband and wife pairs who also each have boyfriends and/or girlfriends. Sheff explores how people in the United States practice these different roles. This is a lifestyle and relationship style that is rarely portrayed as part of U.S. culture, but is a very real part.

Buzzfeed is well-known for its multitude of quizzes, spanning the range from “Which of Taylor Swift’s BFFs Are You?” to “Are You a Good Roommate?” with quizzes like “Which Amy Poehler Character Are You?” (I’m Amy as the Golden Globes Host, if you were wondering) falling somewhere in between. One quiz in particular caught my eye, a quiz entitled “How Will You Meet Your Significant Other?”. Like other Buzzfeed quizzes, the quiz has a picture above the title that informs the viewer further about what the quiz they are about to take part in entails, the particular image is of the famous Ryan Gosling/Rachel McAdams kiss in The Notebook. This kiss shows a passionate love between a heterosexual, cisgender, white couple. I took the test a few times, just to see some of the potential answers I could possibly receive. First I was told I’d meet my significant other at a wedding, then I was told it’d be at a coffee shop, next at the holiday party, until finally I was told I’d meet my significant other at a bar. In order to get these answers I was asked questions about my favorite tv show, late night snack, choice celebrity wingman, favorite city and more. Only one question had anything to do with my interest in a potential significant other, when the quiz asked me what quality I was most attracted to. Based off of nine questions, this quiz was able to infer first off, that I would have a significant other, and second where I would meet said s/o.

This quiz reinforces the idea every that each person needs to have one significant other by giving no options for meeting multiple significant others at once. The quiz makes it seem like all people will have the same end result when it comes to relationships, loves, and desires. While this may follow the more typical pattern of relationships and love that most Americans follow, it still leaves out a large enough portion of Americans who do not practice monogamy.

Buzzfeed is typically seen as creating fairly encompassing posts that are welcoming to people of all gender and sexuality identities, and yet this quiz most definitely isolates a significant group of people who practice their sexuality outside of the normative lens. Why do you think that in this instance Buzzfeed chose to make the quiz accessible to people of all sexualities (they used significant other instead of husband or wife) but only if they follow the typical societal script of monogamy?




2 thoughts on “What’s Sex Got to Do With… Significant Others?

  1. I think that most people think of relationships and associated components in terms of normative scripts. In the United States, as you’ve pointed out, the primary relationship script involves one man and one woman. They meet, fall passionately in love, get married, and have 2.1 children a dog and a white picket fence. Although I would argue that this is far from the reality of most people, even those who sort of fit into this stereotype rarely fit perfectly, it is still what many people envision when someone says “significant other” or “marriage” or related words. As for Buzzfeed in general, I find most of their quizzes and articles to be somewhat exclusive. Titles like “Which of the “Mindy Project” men is your soulmate” and “How Normal are your sex habits” are common to this media site. In that regard, someone is almost always excluded whether it be individuals who do not fit into normative scripts, men, women, children, someone is always left out. I don’t think the authors were intentionally excluding polyamorous individuals, it was just a byproduct of the type of superfluous material the site is famous for creating. Do you think they had a specific agenda?


  2. This is an example of how moral ideologies exist in the structure of language. Buzzfeed needs short, click-bait quiz titles. I’m sure they would use a phrasing that included people who don’t practice monogamy if they could, but there’s no succinct way of saying it. Does that excuse it though?


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