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Negotiating pairbonding, romantic love and jealousy 1


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Analysis of the impact of polyamorous cultural practicies on jealousy and the actualization of romantic live.

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Negotiating pairbonding, romantic love and jealousy 1

  1. 1. Negotiating Pair Bonding, Romantic Love and Jealousy in Polyamorous Relationships Leanna Wolfe, Ph.D.
  2. 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. 3. Poly Speak: The Language of Polyamory  Compersion  loving empathy for a partner being loved/engaged by others  New Relationship Energy (NRE)  Limerence  Other Significant Other (OSO)  Metamour (a partner’s partner)  Primary, Secondary, Tertiary  maintain social family hierarchy  Polyfidelity  sexually faithful to one’s poly family
  4. 4. The Hallmark of Polyamory  Appetite for Disclosure  Open to Hear  Open to Share  Safety in Knowing  Compersion  Positive Regard for Partners’ Extra- Relationship Erotic/Emotional Connections
  5. 5.  Embrace Poly Culture  Jealousy Management  Compersion  NRE Management  Disclosure  Transparency  Consensuality Poly Cultural Conventions
  6. 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. 7. Poly Configurations  Open Couple  Poly Single  Primary and Secondary Partners  Multiple Primary Partners  Triad -- V or  Quad  Intimate Network
  8. 8. How Being in a Poly Relationship Feels  High Demand for Honesty  Primary vs. Secondary vs. Incidental  The challenges of having multiple primaries  Logistics, Communication, Respect  The challenges of not feeling like anyone’s primary  The possibility of having multiple statuses  Being an NRE enhanced favorite and a public primary  Consideration: Is it possible to be happy with polyamory and to not feel like a favorite and/or have a primary status?
  9. 9. Poly Players  Largely Caucasian  Highly Educated  Science Fiction Aficionados  Heinlein and Rimmer (1960s)  Utopian Swingers  Frustrated by Monogamy  Independent Idealists
  10. 10. 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
  11. 11. Pair Bonding  Banned by Oneida and Kerista  Focused on group love  Starling brothers and sisters  Discouraged investment in NRE
  12. 12. 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
  13. 13. 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 inoculate against romantic love roller coasters.  little need for confirmation of mutual love
  14. 14. 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
  15. 15. 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!
  16. 16. Sex-Love Jealousy  Biological Roots  males fear being deceived into raising a non- biological child  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.
  17. 17. Kinds of Jealousy  Possessive Jealousy  Typical in attraction phase (NRE)  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
  18. 18. Jealousy and Monogamy  Jealousy seen as a sign of “true” love.  Financial penalties for divorce reflect economic and domestic possessiveness  Jealousy occurs when Displacement or Replacement is feared  Standard Outcome in Monogamous Cultures
  19. 19. 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
  20. 20. With my Luo Hosts in Western Kenya
  21. 21. With my Huli Hosts in Papua New Guinea
  22. 22. Residence Patterns  Luo Circular Hut Compound  Maasai Hut Compound  Papua New Guinea (co-wives share residence, husband sleeps in men’s house)  U.S. Mormons (separate households, or main house with adjacent trailers)
  23. 23. Husband 2nd Wife 4th Wife 3rd Wife 1st Wife Grandmother & Young Children Main Entrance Luo Compound Unmarried Sons Private Entrance
  24. 24. Maasai Compound
  25. 25. Maasai Polygynous Triad
  26. 26. Huli Men’s House
  27. 27. Huli Co-Wives House
  28. 28. Sweet Potato Garden
  29. 29. Favoritism  Whoever is New is Typically Favorite  The Brain Chemistry of NRE  High Dopamine  High Norepinephrine  How it’s Managed in Africa  Every wife has a status  How FLDS Mormons Manage It  Wives will marry into a new marriage to become the favorite
  30. 30. When Favoritism is Irrelevant  When Resources are Shared Fairly  Husbands Endeavor to Treat Their Wives Equally  Second Wives Not Displace First Wives  Newest Wives are “Favorites” Only until a Subsequent One is Added  Wives Who Are Not “Favorites” Typically Shrug it off
  31. 31. How 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
  32. 32. 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)
  33. 33. Polyarmory  Agreements to ensure one’s own status and security in a relationship  Partner Approval (e.g. someone who does not have a monogamy agenda)  Scheduled Visits (e.g. no secret rendezvous)  Approved Activities (e.g. safe sex)  No Surprises
  34. 34. Polyamory and Jealousy Study*  229 questionnaires received  140 questionnaires evaluated  focused 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. *Towards PhD Dissertation, “Jealousy and Transformation in Polyamorous Relationships” Wolfe, L. 2003
  35. 35. 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
  36. 36. Data Limitations  Completion of a questionnaire over a 15-minute time period offers only a brief emotional snap shot  Most participants ideologically inclined towards the logic of polyamory (re: Compersion Index)  Questionnaire most coherent to those living as an “open couple.”
  37. 37. Overview  58 males  82 females  Peak Baby Boomers  Born in mid-1950s
  38. 38. Compersion Measures  Watching a Partner 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?
  39. 39. 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
  40. 40. Survey Conclusions  Prior Social, Emotional and Sexual Independence did not preclude Successful Adaptation to Polyamory  Over 70% reported that polyamory had increased their self-esteem and their love for their home partner  Nearly 90% reported that being poly had afforded a better perspective both on themselves and on their partners.
  41. 41. Statistically Significant Correlations  Males more compersive than females  greater number of partners  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
  42. 42. 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
  43. 43. The Polyamory Blur  Limit NRE elevating experiences  Reduces emotional spectrum  Embrace Compersive Thinking  Accept/Incorporate 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
  44. 44. The Real Poly Lessons  Boundaries  Respect partners’ needs to be connected to others  High intensity communication  Dark Night of the Soul Journey  Learning to be alone  Self-nurturing  Positive self identity independent from presence/absence of lovers/partners  Release the desire to control others