"Couples Linking" is a new feature that lets couples join their profiles. The feature is open to people who identify as "seeing someone," "married" or "in an open relationship" and are looking for others to join their relationship. The feature will also help singles looking to join an open relationship by identifying non-monogamous couples in searches.
The addition was welcomed by many who identify as non-monogamous or polyamorous, terms broadly used to describe people openly involved in relationships with more than one person. These communities already consider OkCupid the most welcoming of the major dating sites for already having settings to accommodate them.
Polyamorous people have trouble finding like-minded potential mates on most mainstream dating sites simply because there's no way to search for them, said sex educator Anita Illig Wagner, founder of Practical Polyamory
. And, monogamous people don't always appreciate being approached blindly with an invitation into an open relationship.
"It's a very big deal and I'm delighted that OkCupid has gotten this far with it," she said. "I hope other sites take it seriously and we find ourselves welcome in even more major websites."
OkCupid made "open relationship" and "non-monogamous" options for relationship status in 2014 and added 12 sexual orientation and 22 gender options
, all believed to be firsts for a major dating site.
"You want to meet people like you so having the site identify you as non-monogamous is a very big deal," said Pepper Mint, a San Francisco-based advocate for non-monogamy who organizes poly-friendly events.
The new feature also looks promising for "couples dating," he said -- two people looking for someone together without having to create a joint profile.
There's no good measure of the amount of people who identify as non-monogamous or polyamorous because it's still a small group, Mint said. But as the concept becomes more well-known thanks to pop culture and politics more people are considering it for themselves.
"It's good news but it's not just OkCupid being generous," he added. "It's well-known in the poly community that if you want to date online you go to OkCupid. What we're really seeing is non-monogamous purchasing power."
OkCupid readily admits that the feature comes in response to growing interest among users in relationships with more than one person at a time, be it flings, casual hookups or committed relationships.
Over the past five years the site has seen an increase in positive responses from users to questions about multiple partners, OkCupid chief product officer Jimena Almendares said. For example, in 2010, 39% of all users said "I could be convinced by the right people" when asked "Would you consider being part of a committed polyamorous relationship?"In 2015, people responding the same way to the same question rose by 6% among all users.
As for the question "Would you consider dating someone who is already involved in an open or polyamorous relationship?" 42% of all users said yes in 2010. In 2015, half of users said they would.
"Now, couples can identify themselves, and users searching for a non-monogamous relationship can find them more easily," Almendares said. "Also, users searching for monogamous relationships only will not see profiles of users in non-monogamous relationships."
There's still room for improvement, Mint said. He would like to see "polyamorous" become a relationship status option. In the spirit of honesty and transparency that polyamory is predicated upon, being able to add more multiple partners to a profile would be another positive step forward, especially since many poly people don't seek out new mates as a couple.
"OkCupid has been making incremental changes and they're good but there's still farther to go," he said.