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Are Polyamory and Cheating All        that Different?        Leanna Wolfe, Ph.D.            BIL Conference            Marc...
Definitions of Polyamory Responsible/ethical/honest non-  monogamy A deep, emotional, sometimes physical  relationship w...
Definitions of Polyamory Believing that we can love more than one  person at the same time, with or without  sexual engag...
Demographics of Polyamoryin America Between 2% and 3.5% of Americans identify  as polyamorous (Anapol, 2010) 94.3% Cauca...
How Common is Cheating? Infidelity occurs in less than 25% of committed  relationships--National Opinion Research Center ...
Activities Those Who Have Been Cheated On Consider Cheating         Naked Cuddling                                        ...
Erotic Activities Those Who Have Been Cheated On Consider CheatingSexual Intercourse                                      ...
Biological Basis for Non-Monogamy1. Sexual   Dimorphism2. Testicle Size3. Sperm   Competition
Brain Chemistry of Romantic Love            Attraction phase   Attachment phase  Lust
Polyamorous Configurations Open Couple Independent Single Primary and Secondary Partners Multiple Primary Partners Tr...
Poly Speak: The Language of Polyamory Compersion   loving empathy for one’s partner being    loved/engaged by others Ne...
Poly Cultural Conventions Embrace Poly Culture Jealousy Management Compersion NRE Management Disclosure  Transparenc...
Polyamorous Cultural Practices New partners incorporated for novelty NOT to  displace/replace long term ones Disinterest...
Overview 1,715 Cheaters (reporting having one or more  secret lovers) 174 Polyamorists (describing full-disclosure  poly...
Demographics Average 17 lifetime sexual partners 51.3% Male - 48.4% Female - .3% Transgender 59.1% between 40 – 59 year...
Relationship Status
Sexual Orientation
Sexual Activities
Frequency of Sex withHome Partner/Spouse
Happiness inCurrent Relationship
Contributions toRelationship Happiness
Measure of aSuccessful Relationship
Other Couples More Oral Sex?
If Partner Refuses Oral Sex…
Reasons to Go Outsidefor Oral Sex
If Partner Refuses Anal Play…
Conclusions Poly People are less likely to be married than  people who cheat (44% vs. 77%) Poly People are more to be bi...
Conclusions Poly people have much more frequent sex with  their home partners than people who cheat  (mode-every other da...
Conclusions Poly people are twice as likely to believe that they  have more oral sex than other couples do (47% vs.  24%)...
Comments from Poly People Im involved in mutable affairs with younger men  because I have a high sex drive for a 62 yr ol...
Comments from Poly People Love the connections I have made via Ashley Madison....have actually met several women and enga...
Comments from Cheaters Life is short have an affair Male, 48 I think sex is a very important part of a happy  marriage/r...
Comments from Cheaters I feel there are many men and women out there around my  age where one partner or the other is no ...
Comments from Cheaters Thanks to Ashley Madison I have a large pool of like-  minded, married, adultery neophytes to choo...
Reflections Both Polyamory and Cheating address the dopamine void  in long term relationships with new lovers Both Cheat...
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Are polyamory and cheating all that different

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Are polyamory and cheating all that different

  1. 1. Are Polyamory and Cheating All that Different? Leanna Wolfe, Ph.D. BIL Conference March 4, 2012
  2. 2. Definitions of Polyamory Responsible/ethical/honest non- monogamy A deep, emotional, sometimes physical relationship with more than one partner simultaneously Relationship with multiple people in which everyone knows about each other and is okay about it. Having multiple concurrent romantic relationships with the full informed, uncoerced consent of all parties.
  3. 3. Definitions of Polyamory Believing that we can love more than one person at the same time, with or without sexual engagement. An exploration into conscious relating that doesnt subscribe to the conventional paradigm of lifelong marriage. Rather than revolving around the couple, it revolves around the individual as a whole and evolving person. Based on non-possessive love.
  4. 4. Demographics of Polyamoryin America Between 2% and 3.5% of Americans identify as polyamorous (Anapol, 2010) 94.3% Caucasian (Wolfe, 2003) Well-Educated  99% have attended college  40% have graduated degrees
  5. 5. How Common is Cheating? Infidelity occurs in less than 25% of committed relationships--National Opinion Research Center 2003 Study 30-60% of Americans will engage in infidelity at some point in their marriages – Buss and Shackelford, 1997 Infidelity is more common for people under 30 The Internet has made it easier for cheating minded people to find each other…
  6. 6. Activities Those Who Have Been Cheated On Consider Cheating Naked Cuddling 79% 87% Using Sex Toys 68% 74% Phone Sex 50% 74% Light Kissing 54% 73%Happy Ending to Massage 62% 70% 41% Males Emotional Intimacy 65% Females Cyber Sex 44% 65% Clothed Cuddling 48% 64% Dirty Dancing 28% 42% Tantric Breathing 26% 41% Dinner in a Restaurant 30% 41% 0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100%
  7. 7. Erotic Activities Those Who Have Been Cheated On Consider CheatingSexual Intercourse 95% 96% 89% Giving Oral Sex 93% 88%Receiving Oral Sex 93% 92% Male Anal Intercourse 91% Female G-spot Massage 85% 91% 83%Prostate Massage 87% 73% Deep Kissing 89% 79% BDSM 87%
  8. 8. Biological Basis for Non-Monogamy1. Sexual Dimorphism2. Testicle Size3. Sperm Competition
  9. 9. Brain Chemistry of Romantic Love Attraction phase Attachment phase Lust
  10. 10. Polyamorous Configurations Open Couple Independent Single Primary and Secondary Partners Multiple Primary Partners Triad -- V or Quad Intimate Network
  11. 11. 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
  12. 12. Poly Cultural Conventions Embrace Poly Culture Jealousy Management Compersion NRE Management Disclosure  Transparency  Consensuality
  13. 13. Polyamorous 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
  14. 14. Overview 1,715 Cheaters (reporting having one or more secret lovers) 174 Polyamorists (describing full-disclosure polyamory as their current relationship agreement) Surveyed between August 10, 2010 and May 8, 2011 In partnership with Avid Media (Ashley Madison) Other Options respondents might have selected included:
  15. 15. Demographics Average 17 lifetime sexual partners 51.3% Male - 48.4% Female - .3% Transgender 59.1% between 40 – 59 years old 81% Caucasian  7.1% Hispanic  4.1% African American  2.8% Asian  2.8% Mixed
  16. 16. Relationship Status
  17. 17. Sexual Orientation
  18. 18. Sexual Activities
  19. 19. Frequency of Sex withHome Partner/Spouse
  20. 20. Happiness inCurrent Relationship
  21. 21. Contributions toRelationship Happiness
  22. 22. Measure of aSuccessful Relationship
  23. 23. Other Couples More Oral Sex?
  24. 24. If Partner Refuses Oral Sex…
  25. 25. Reasons to Go Outsidefor Oral Sex
  26. 26. If Partner Refuses Anal Play…
  27. 27. Conclusions Poly People are less likely to be married than people who cheat (44% vs. 77%) Poly People are more to be bisexual (29% vs. 9%) and less likely to be heterosexual (59% vs. 90%) than people who cheat. Poly people are more likely to engage in alternative sexual practices than cheaters including mutual masturbation (85% vs. 62%), anal play (61% vs. 45%) and BDSM (42% vs. 14%)
  28. 28. Conclusions Poly people have much more frequent sex with their home partners than people who cheat (mode-every other day or twice weekly vs. weekly-monthly-rarely) Poly people are twice as happy in their home relationships (75% vs. 36%) Poly people place more value on love, trust and spirituality than people who cheat. People who cheat place more value on financial security, parenting and their spouse’s appearance than poly people.
  29. 29. Conclusions Poly people are twice as likely to believe that they have more oral sex than other couples do (47% vs. 24%) People who cheat are twice as likely to believe that they have less oral sex than other couples do (32% vs. 17%) If a partner refuses oral sex, 55% of poly people and 15% of cheaters would seek an open (poly) lover. 48% of cheaters and 8% of poly people would seek a sexual affair. Just 4% of both cohorts would purchase the services of a sex worker/prostitute. If a partner refused anal play, poly people were again more inclined to seek an open lover (32% vs. 6%) while cheaters were more likely to pursue a sexual
  30. 30. Comments from Poly People Im involved in mutable affairs with younger men because I have a high sex drive for a 62 yr old woman. Often men are married to women they love and have children with but are unfulfilled in the bedroom. They are attracted to me because Im a good confidant and sexually liberated. They stay married, I stay single. We each get our sexual needs met. Its a win/win. Its too bad getting your sexual needs met outside of marriage is considered "cheating" rather than what it is.........getting needs met and enhancing ones sex life. Female, 62 Poly has been wonderful. How can you be all things to your mate? I love to open up the possibilities to women when they are in control of letting go...and do...and I can take them on an adventure of loving more and opening up their mind and body to intimacy - taking them on this adventure of joy and pleasure, that is outside their previous realm of reality.
  31. 31. Comments from Poly People Love the connections I have made via Ashley Madison....have actually met several women and engaged in intimate acts with one in addition to the one I am seeing now. Soooo re-assuring and exciting to know that other women out there who are "normal" want an intimate connection with other women and still love and want intimacy with their husbands. Feared I was unreasonable and that what I wanted was not possible. Female, 37
  32. 32. Comments from Cheaters Life is short have an affair Male, 48 I think sex is a very important part of a happy marriage/relationship. We have been married for 7 years and my husband seems to have lost all interest. This is the first time Ive had an affair and it has been very difficult because of the guilt. I really love my husband and I wish that he would put forth the effort to help our sex life. Female, 27 Women need to be taught about the male sex drive in sex ed. Every girlfriend that I ever had was shocked when I explained how we get hard all on our own without being aroused and that we wake up with wood and have to "deal with it.“ It never ends for us, and they think were all sex- crazed dogs but it never occurs to them that we dont want to be this way either! We pledge to care for each other in marriage, effectively entrusting our erections to our wives and because they dont understand our situation, they hang us out to dry. First you make us swear never to fuck anyone else and then we cant even fuck you. Male, 28
  33. 33. Comments from Cheaters I feel there are many men and women out there around my age where one partner or the other is no longer engaging in sexual affection with their spouse. Society says "get a divorce." That sounds really good, if you dont mind the devastating impact to your finances and the children and grandchildren taking sides. It is a tough situation and I am sure I am not alone. I dont want to drop a bomb into the middle of my life, destroying finances, etc. But I desperately need the loving connection that comes from having a loving, sexually active friendship with a special woman in my life. Male, 55 I went on to Ashley Madison because I was getting no sex from husband. I found a great lover and friend. We enjoy each other so much and give each other what we both need. Both our spouses are prudish when it comes to sex. We are together a year now, yet we are both still married. It is sad when you meet someone who is so perfect for you knowing you can’t be with them like you desire. For now we just enjoy what we have and try to be careful. Female
  34. 34. Comments from Cheaters Thanks to Ashley Madison I have a large pool of like- minded, married, adultery neophytes to choose from. Its easy for me to weed out the more experienced or "gamer” types and concentrate on finding men who have never or seldom had an adulterous relationship: thats my target population. Ashley Madisons existence means I have a very happy, healthy sex life with partners who adore me well into my middle age; a miracle in todays youth oriented society. My partners are often 20 years younger than me and are none the wiser as to my chronological age. This only enhances my enjoyment in life at an age most women have decided not to have sex ever again, or simply cant find exciting partners whose attention helps them maintain joy in feeling fully alive. I believe my story and happy experiences are an anomaly in contemporary society...and I am fully cognizant and grateful Im a happy, sexy, extremely youthful early 60s woman often mistaken for someone 20 years younger. Female, 62 The human primate is not monogamous by nature. It is not just the male, it is not just the female, it is both. It transcends ethnic groups, social groups, religious groups and political groups. Sex is simply the desire that binds us all. It is more than reproductive, it is less than sacred. It is universal. It is the human condition. Male, 64
  35. 35. Reflections Both Polyamory and Cheating address the dopamine void in long term relationships with new lovers Both Cheaters and Open Couples seek to maintain the status and security of their home relationships The key difference between polyamory and cheating is their approaches to disclosure.  Poly People tend to have positive feelings towards their home partners and their home relationships and engage in their culturally valued practice of compersion.  Cheaters fear that disclosure would cause severe discomfort (e.g. an emotional meltdown) The Polyamory emotional journey can be both painful and rewarding.  Dark Night of the Soul  Emerge as a Emotionally and Erotically Independent Being

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