Negotiating Pairbonding and Romantic Love in Polyamorous Relationships


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  • Negotiating Pairbonding and Romantic Love in Polyamorous Relationships

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