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Willow Smith says she's polyamorous. Here's why the 20-year-old's admission is so important.

Megan Sims
·5 min read
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Willow Smith is polyamorous and proud.

During the latest episode of Red Table Talk, Willow, mom Jada Pinkett Smith and Adrienne Banfield-Norris, or "Gammy," talked about the rising interest in polyamorous relationships. Willow decided to open up about her decision to be polyamory.

“With polyamory, I feel like the main foundation is the freedom to be able to create a relationship style that works for you and not just stepping into monogamy because that's what everyone around you says is the right thing to do. So I was like, 'How can I structure the way that I approach relationships with that in mind? Also, doing research into polyamory, the main reasons why monogamous relationships, or why marriage, why divorces happen is infidelity,” she explained.

Willow added that this relationship style is more than just sex, but also considering the needs of the partner.

"Let's say you haven't always been the kind of person that wanted to have sex all the time, but your partner is," she said. "Are you gonna be the person to say, you know,Just because I don't have these needs, you can't have them either? And so that's kind of one of the reasons why I actually was interested in poly because I was introduced to it through kind of a nonsexual lens. In my friend group, I'm the only polyamorous person, and I have the least sex out of all of my friends.”

Jada revealed how she initially reacted when her daughter opened up to her about being polyamorous.

“When you were like, ‘Hey, this is my get down. I was like, ‘I totally get it.' Wanting to set up your life in a way that you can have what it is that you want, I think anything goes as long as the intentions are clear,” she recalled.

Banfield-Norris admitted that she considered polyamory with her husband, Rodney, before they got married. 

“Even outside of the counseling that you get from your pastor before you get married, 'cause most people that get married, will get counseling from their pastors because there is a religious aspect to it, a God aspect to it, Jada," she said. "And we had deep conversation about, what does this mean to us? What do we wanna create for ourselves? And we actually talked about polyamory, and was that something that we wanted to explore? We had that conversation.”

CBS News reports that in 2019, about 5 percent of U.S. residents are in consensual or ethical non-monogamy relationships, an umbrella term that includes all arrangements besides monogamy, including polyamory. Additionally, according to a 2016 study in the Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy, about 20 percent of single U.S. adults reported that they have engaged in consensual non-monogamy at some point in their life.

Willow isn't the first celebrity to open up about being polyamorous; stars like Bella Thorne, DeRay Davis and others have also discussed being in polyamorous relationships.

Ruby Johnson, LCSW, sex therapist and founder and CEO of PolyDallas Symposium, tells Yahoo Life that she believes polyamory relationships are on the rise among young adults.

"[Polyamory is] becoming more visible, it's becoming more in-vogue. With the internet, the education is out there, so as a result of the accessibility, visibility is growing," she explains.

Though there is more visibility around polyamorous people, Johnson, who has been polyamorous for 11 years, points out the lack of representation of Black poly love in the media.

"Black love is way different than any love that's out there," she explains. "I think the way we do relationships, the way we love, the way we knew family, the way we do connection, in our community, we need to have people who understand our struggle, our successes and how we move in relationships. [It's] important that we see folks that look like us because it's a sense of solidarity and kinship, and it's very comforting. So the more that we see better media representation of us, the more that we demystify our relationships, the way we do family, the way we do love, and it gives more exposure and more visibility so that we can come out of the shadows and our experience is not erased and we're not invisible."

Johnson praised Willow for opening up about polyamory, which has been plagued by stigma, including claims that it is merely based on sex. Johnson wants to make it clear that polyamory is not here to shame monogamy. And with there being many misconceptions about polyamory, she also praised Jada for being open-minded when her daughter opened up to her.

"They are role models, especially for younger folk and they normalize it," she adds. "These are folks in their twenties and I think it's brilliant. One of the things that was my favorite parts of [Red Table Talk] was that [Willow's] mother was so open, knowledgeable and receptive to her daughter. Me and my mom have never had a conversation about it, never. And so I think with [Willow] being the age that she is and coming forward is going to help so many people be exposed to other choices."

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