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Negotiating Pairbonding and Romantic Love in Polyamorous Relationships
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Negotiating Pairbonding and Romantic Love in Polyamorous Relationships


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    • 1. Negotiating Pairbonding, Romantic Love and Jealousy in Polyamorous Relationships Leanna Wolfe, Ph.D.
    • 2. Definitions
      • Polygamy - More Than One Spouse
        • Polygyny - More Than One Wife
        • Polyandry - More Than One Husband
      • Monogamy - One Spouse
        • Does not preclude sexual fidelity
      • Serial Monogamy - One Spouse at a Time
      • Swinging - One Spouse; Multiple Playmates
      • Polyamory - Consensual Multiple Committed Loving Relationships
    • 3. Poly Speak: The Language of Polyamory
      • Compersion
        • loving empathy for one’s partner being loved/engaged by others
      • New Relationship Energy (NRE)
        • Limerence
      • Other Significant Other (OSO)
      • Primary, Secondary, Tertiary
        • maintain social family hierarchy
      • Polyfidelity
        • sexually faithful to one’s family
    • 4. Poly Configurations
      • Open Couple
      • Independent Single
      • Primary and Secondary Partners
      • Multiple Primary Partners
      • Triad -- V or
      • Quad
      • Intimate Network
    • 5. Poly Players
      • 94.3% White
      • Highly Educated
      • Science Fiction Aficionados
        • Heinlein and Rimmer (1960s)
      • Utopian Swingers
      • Frustrated by Monogamy
      • Independent Idealists
    • 6. Poly Cultural Practices
      • New partners incorporated for novelty NOT to displace/replace long term ones
      • Disinterest in Western culture’s celebration of “the one.”
      • NRE viewed as a temporary state, not a reason to disrupt one’s home life.
        • Avoidance of romantic love roller coasters
    • 7. Human Reproductive Strategies
      • Sexy Son Hypothesis (Buss, 1994)
      • Partible Paternity (Hrdy, 1999)
      • Serial Monogamy (Fisher, 1994)
        • Adultery-Divorce-Remarriage Cycle
        • Lover in the Wings
        • 2-4 year Divorce Cycle
      • Polygamy
        • Polygyny
        • Polyandry
    • 8. Stages of Romantic Love
      • Lust
        • sexual interest -- love at first sight
        • testosterone
      • Attraction
        • love sick, exhilaration, infatuation, NRE
        • dopamine, norepinephrine
      • Attachment
        • stability, tranquility, peace
        • oxytocin, vasopressin
      • Detachment
        • withdrawal, boredom
    • 9. Brain Chemistry
      • Romantic Love raises dopamine and norepinephrine levels
        • favoritism (unwavering focus on “the one”)
        • obsession with details
        • possessiveness/mate guarding
      • High Serotonin levels can function to inoculate individuals from romantic love roller coasters.
        • little need to be validated from the confirmation of mutual love
    • 10. Incidence of Romantic Love
      • A Human Universal
        • found in nearly all non-Western societies
        • Not a Western cultural artifact!
      • Considered different from Sexual Lust
        • Can be suicidal when advances are not reciprocated
      • Subject to high levels of Jealousy
    • 11. Pair Bonding
      • Banned by Oneida and Kerista
        • Focused on group love
          • Starling brothers and sisters
          • Discouraged investment in NRE
    • 12. Is it possible to be in love with more than one sweetie?
      • Its very possible to be in lust with many partners
      • Its possible to be in the attachment phase with multiple partners
      • The attraction phase may be largely a mono-experience
        • Rare instances of falling in love with a couple
    • 13. Sex-Love Jealousy
      • Biological Roots
        • males fear being deceived into raising a child that is not biologically theirs.
      • Cultural Roots
        • may be largely a product of cultural learning, being barely present amongst the Inuit, Marquesans and Keristans
      • Economic Roots
        • females fear that their partner’s time, energy and resources will be directed outside of their home and their children.
    • 14. Kinds of Jealousy
      • Possessive Jealousy
      • Exclusion Jealousy
        • feeling left out, deprived of time/attention
      • Competition Jealousy
        • feeling inadequate comparing oneself
      • Ego Jealousy
        • feeling others will judge them as inadequate for sharing a lover
      • Fear Jealousy
        • anxiety that partner will leave permanently
    • 15. Jealousy and Monogamy
      • Jealousy is seen as a sign of intense or “true” love.
      • Financial penalties for divorce reflect economic and domestic possessiveness
      • Jealousy occurs when displacement or replacement is feared
    • 16. Jealousy and Polygyny
      • Occurs when resources can be divided unevenly
      • Can happen when visiting times are unequal
      • Can arise when favoritism is suspected
      • Can occur when it is not chosen by the wives
        • switching from monogamy to polygyny
        • co-wives that don’t get along
    • 17. Ways Swinging Limits Jealousy
      • Taste but Don’t Surrender
        • No elaborate Seduction
      • Limited Sharing
        • Preserve Social/Legal Monogamy
      • Safer Sex
        • Viral and Emotional
        • Avoid Engaging Highly Attractive Players
    • 18. Polyamory and Jealousy
      • It requires personal growth to transform into no longer being jealous (Nearing)
      • Polyamory is a more advanced form of relationship for those prepared to evolve beyond monogamy (Anapol)
      • You can change the way you experience jealousy (Easton & Liszt)
    • 19. Polyamory and Jealousy Study
      • 229 questionnaires received
      • 140 questionnaires evaluated
        • focussed on those that engaged in poly style dating
        • swingers who just engage others as a couple at sex parties were not included
        • created an11-point compersion index drawing from six compersion measures.
    • 20. Research Objectives
      • Gather information on how poly people construct their social, emotional and sexual lives
      • Explore ways poly people address/ resolve jealousy provoking situations
      • Evaluate social and behavioral factors that might predict compersiveness
    • 21. Data Limitations
      • Filling out a questionnaire over a 15-minute period of time offers only a brief emotional snap shot
      • Most participants were ideologically inclined towards the logic of polyamory (re: Compersion Index)
      • Questionnaire most coherent to those living as an “open couple.”
    • 22. Overview
      • 58 males
      • 82 females
      • Peak Baby Boomers
        • male median age -- 45
        • female median age -- 43
    • 23.  
    • 24. Compersion Measures
      • Watching a partner being sexual with someone else
      • Being Watched by One’s Partner…
      • Feelings about partner spending the night with other lovers
      • What happens when partner returns…
      • Impact of poly dating on home relationship
      • Change relationship agreements?
    • 25. Compersion Index
      • 11 point scale
      • Median 9.12
      • Only 7.9% less then 7.
      • Compersive thinking is largely the norm for the people who participated in this survey
    • 26. Survey Conclusions
      • Prior social, emotional and sexual independence did not preclude successful adaptation to polyamory
      • Over 70% reported that practicing polyamory had increased their self-esteem and their love for their home partner
      • Upwards of 90% contended that being poly had afforded them a better perspective both on themselves and on their partners.
    • 27. Statistically Significant Correlations
      • Males more compersive than females
        • greater number of partners per year--less attachment--sense of abundance
      • Those who report that they love each of their lovers equally
        • embrace poly ideology
      • Heterosexuals who masturbate frequently
        • more substantial inner life
    • 28. Actualizing Compersion / Negotiating Jealousy
      • Developed Inner Life
        • masturbation, spirituality, meditation
      • Full Plate Life
        • busy with work, family, lovers
        • Extended Family of Choice
      • Believe in Poly Ideology
        • Celebrate Starling Relationships
        • There is not just one “one”
      • High Serotonin Uptake
      • Fears of Loss not actualized.
        • New loves did not displace/replace partners
    • 29. The Polyamory Blur
      • Limit NRE elevating experiences
        • Reduces emotional spectrum
      • Embrace Compersive Thinking
        • Tolerate partners’ other loves
      • Serial Monogamy may be practiced in slow motion.
        • Averts dramatic breakups / divorce
      • Engage in “Polyarmory”
        • Control partners’ activities
        • Avoid non-poly romantic engagements