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Myths & realities of cnm catalyst con east 2015_slideshare

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What do people think about consensually nonmonogamous (CNM) relationships and people, and what are CNM relationships and people really like? This presentation is a summary of the social science research examining these questions.

Presented by Dr Zhana Vrangalova at Catalyst Con East 2015.

Published in: Education
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Myths & realities of cnm catalyst con east 2015_slideshare

  1. 1. MYTHS AND REALITIES OF CONSENSUAL NONMONOGAMY: WHAT SCIENCE KNOWS SO FAR Zhana Vrangalova, PhD New York University @DrZhana
  2. 2. OVERVIEW  Definitions  How (non)monogamous are humans?  What do people think of CNM?  What is CNM really like:  Sexual Satisfaction  Psychological, Physical, & Relationship Wellbeing  Sexual Health  The Children!
  3. 3. DEFINITIONS  Sexual (v. social or marital) monogamy:  CDC (2009): “Mutual monogamy means that you agree to be sexually active with only one person, and that person has agreed to be sexually active only with you.”  Nonconsensual nonmonogamy:  Cheating/Infidelity  CNM: Consensual / Ethical / Open / Negotiated Nonmonogamy: Committed relationships with non- secret agreements to engage in sexual and/or romantic relationships with others  Swinging  Open relationships  Polyamory
  4. 4. HOW NON(MONOGAMOUS) ARE HUMANS?
  5. 5. LIFE LONG SEXUAL MONOGAMY IS RARE  Cross-cultural marital patterns (1231 societies in Ethnographic Atlas)  15% – monogamous  37% – occasional polygyny  48% – frequent polygyny  0.3% – polyandry  Infidelity  Up to 75% of people  Few lifelong monogamists  40-44yo: 10% men & 20% women  Group sex  College women (‘06): 13% sex w/ 2 men in 24 hrs & 8% MFM Fantasies (‘14): Women Men Sex w/ 2 men 57% 16% Sex w/ 2 women 37% 85% Sex w/ 4+ ppl 31% 45%
  6. 6. SO ARE ALL PEOPLE EQUALLY (NON)MONOGAMOUS?  Hamilton et al, in preparation
  7. 7. HOW MANY DO IT OPENLY?
  8. 8. IF YOU LIVED IN A WORLD WHERE EVERYONE HAD OPEN RELATIONSHIPS, WOULD YOU BE MONOGAMOUS?  Hamilton, L.D., Pujols, Y., & Meston, C.M. (in preparation) - cannot share
  9. 9. SOCIAL STIGMA
  10. 10. STIGMA AGAINST CNM IS PERVASIVE & ROBUST  Robust across samples, traits, & couple type  Halo effect  “Internalized monogamism” in CNM people  Poly > Open relationships > Swingers
  11. 11. SEXUAL SATISFACTION
  12. 12. SEXUAL FREQUENCY & DESIRE  Raw sexual desire thrives on NOVELTY (dopamine)  The longer the relationship  The higher the chances of sexual dysfunction
  13. 13. FREQUENCY OF SEX  4,000+ CNM adults: 55 and older subsample  Twice a month (Mono) vs. once a week (CNM)
  14. 14. ORGASM & SEXUAL SATISFACTION  In national samples, 25% women & 9% men had had no orgasms in the past year  Sexual satisfaction 4.17 men; 4.39 women on 1 to 5 scale
  15. 15. PSYCHOLOGICAL, PHYSICAL & RELATIONSHIP HEALTH
  16. 16. SWINGERS HAPPIER IN LIFE & MARRIAGE THAN GENERAL US POPULATION  Marital satisfaction in 1,400 swingers (Fernandes, 2009): 84 men; 87 women on 0 to 100 scale (>70  satisfaction)
  17. 17. CNM OLDER ADULTS HAPPIER AND HEALTHIER THAN GENERAL POPULATION  No diff in marriage satisfaction among married
  18. 18. CNM PEOPLE ARE LESS JEALOUS THAN MONOGAMOUS PEOPLE  Conley et al., in prep – cannot share
  19. 19. OTHER PSYCHOLOGICAL & RELATIONSHIP HEALTH & FUNCTIONING  No differences in psych health:  Depression, anxiety, hostility, hopelessness, attachment  Few (and inconsistent) differences in relationship quality:  Intimacy, trust, commitment, passion, closeness, love, cohesion It’s the cheating/lying that matters for relationship quality (research on gay couples)  Really mono = CNM > Cheaters / Secretive (LaSala, 2004; Wagner et al., 2000)  Breaking a rule (regardless of agreement type) (Hosking, 2013)
  20. 20. SEXUAL HEALTH
  21. 21. PERFECT MONOGAMY > NONMONOGAMY 1. Agree to monogamy before engaging in any genital sexual activity; 2. Wait several months for any possible past diseases to surface; 3. Receive a full battery of STI tests; and 4. After STI tests are negative (or STIs are treated/managed), be sexually monogamous; 5. Never have another sexual partner. BUT, Real Life Monogamy Is Imperfect!
  22. 22. CNM PEOPLE PRACTICE SAFE-SEX MORE CONSISTENTLY THAN CHEATERS
  23. 23. CNM PEOPLE USE CONDOMS MORE CORRECTLY THAN CHEATERS
  24. 24. CNM PEOPLE MORE LIKELY TO GET STI TESTING
  25. 25. CNM PEOPLE DO NOT HAVE MORE STIS  Lehmiller et al., in preparation – cannot share
  26. 26. RESPONSIBLE PROMISCUITY VS. IMPERFECT MONOGAMY A hypothetical example A. Person A - Typical monogamy:  one long-term partner of 5 years  of unknown HIV status  unprotected vaginal sex  have sex 2/week (total of 480 sex acts). B. Person B - Responsible promiscuity:  only one-night stands  condom-protected vaginal one-night stands  with partners of unknown HIV status How many different partners before B reaches A’s likelihood of getting HIV? 3,800
  27. 27. THE CHILDREN!
  28. 28. INFIDELITY IS BAD FOR KIDS  Insecure attachment  Cheat on partners themselves Is it extra-dyadic sex that’s harmful or the breach of trust and parental conflict over it? Sources of evidence:  Polygamous marriages cross-culturally  Arab Bedouins in Israel; Nigeria; Xhosa; UAE; Jordan  Communal Child Rearing in the 70’s  U.S. swinger parents today  U.S. poly parents today
  29. 29. POLY PARENTS RAISING KIDS TODAY  Benefits (perceived by parents):  Pooled financial resources  More attention to kids (e.g. less time in day care)  Sex-positive environment promoting honesty & intimacy  Diversity of interests, hobbies, role models  More personal free time for parents  Drawbacks (perceived by parents):  Kids become attached to partners who leave  Social stigma in schools
  30. 30. THE KIDS SEEM TO BE ALRIGHT Sheff, 2013, interviews w/ kids of poly parents ages 5-18:  Articulate, thoughtful, intelligent & securely attached.  Younger kids not aware of being in a different living environment; felt loved, safe, and secure.  Older children aware “unusual” family structure but didn’t find this problematic – no stigma, more logistical help.  Children becoming attached to partners who then leave after breakup not major concern for the kids.
  31. 31. SO, IS REAL-LIFE MONOGAMY BETTER THAN CNM?  Social Stigma - YES  Sexual Satisfaction – NO  Sexual Health – NO  Relationship Quality - NO  Psychological & Physical Health - NO  The Children – (Probably) NO But much more research is needed!
  32. 32. HOW DO YOU MAKE PEOPLE MORE ACCEPTING OF CNM?  196 U.S. citizens (ages 18 to 79, mean = 33; 80% white, 64% in committed relationships)
  33. 33. STAY IN TOUCH E-mail: zhana.vrangalova@gmail.com Twitter: @DrZhana Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DrZhana Website: http://zhanavrangalova.com/ Strictly Casual Blog: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/strictly-casual Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/RHX4r The Casual Sex Project: http://thecasualsexproject.com/

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