Negotiating Pairbonding, Romantic Love and Jealousy in Polyamorous Relationships Leanna Wolfe, Ph.D.
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
The Language of Polyamory
loving empathy for one’s partner being loved/engaged by others
New Relationship Energy (NRE)
Other Significant Other (OSO) Primary, Secondary, Tertiary
maintain social family hierarchy sexually faithful to one’s family
Couple Independent Single Primary and Secondary Partners Multiple Primary Partners Triad -- V or Quad Intimate Network
White Highly Educated Science Fiction Aficionados
and Rimmer (1960s)
Swingers Frustrated by Monogamy Independent Idealists
Poly Cultural Practices
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.
of romantic love roller coasters
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
Stages of Romantic Love
sexual interest -- love at first sight testosterone
love sick, exhilaration, infatuation, NRE dopamine, norepinephrine stability, tranquility, peace oxytocin, vasopressin withdrawal, boredom
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
Incidence of Romantic Love
in nearly all non-Western societies Not a Western cultural artifact!
different from Sexual Lust
be suicidal when advances are not reciprocated
to high levels of Jealousy
by Oneida and Kerista
on group love
Starling brothers and sisters Discouraged investment in NRE
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 monoexperience
Rare instances of falling in love with a couple
males fear being deceived into raising a child that is not biologically theirs.
may be largely a product of cultural learning, being barely present amongst the Inuit, Marquesans and Keristans females fear that their partner’s time, energy and resources will be directed outside of their home and their children.
Kinds of Jealousy
Possessive Jealousy Exclusion Jealousy
feeling left out, deprived of time/attention feeling inadequate comparing oneself feeling others will judge them as inadequate for sharing a lover anxiety that partner will leave permanently
Jealousy and Monogamy
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
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
Ways Swinging Limits Jealousy
but Don’t Surrender
and Emotional Avoid Engaging Highly Attractive Players
Polyamory and Jealousy
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)
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.
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
out a questionnaire over a 15minute 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.”
males 82 females Peak Baby Boomers
median age -- 45 female median age -- 43
Ages in 2002
60 50 40 30 20 10 0 Wolfe Cosmo Cavallero Larsen Schubach Caust Gilmartin
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?
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
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.
Statistically Significant Correlations
more compersive than females
number of partners per year--less attachment--sense of abundance
who report that they love each of their lovers equally
substantial inner life
Actualizing Compersion / Negotiating Jealousy
Developed Inner Life
masturbation, spirituality, meditation
busy with work, family, lovers Extended Family of Choice Celebrate Starling Relationships There is not just one “one”
Full Plate Life
Believe in Poly Ideology
High Serotonin Uptake Fears of Loss not actualized.
New loves did not displace/replace partners
The Polyamory Blur
Limit NRE elevating experiences
Reduces emotional spectrum
Tolerate partners’ other loves
Embrace Compersive Thinking
Serial Monogamy may be practiced in slow motion.
Averts dramatic breakups / divorce
Engage in “Polyarmory”
Control partners’ activities Avoid non-poly romantic engagements