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Negotiating Pairbonding, Romantic Love and Jealousy in Polyamorous Relationships Leanna Wolfe, Ph.D.

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Presentation on theme: "Negotiating Pairbonding, Romantic Love and Jealousy in Polyamorous Relationships Leanna Wolfe, Ph.D."— Presentation transcript:

1 Negotiating Pairbonding, Romantic Love and Jealousy in Polyamorous Relationships Leanna Wolfe, Ph.D.

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 Poly Speak: The Language of Polyamory Compersion loving empathy for ones 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 ones family

4 Poly Configurations Open Couple Independent Single Primary and Secondary Partners Multiple Primary Partners Triad -- V or Quad Intimate Network

5 Poly Players 94.3% White Highly Educated Science Fiction Aficionados Heinlein and Rimmer (1960s) Utopian Swingers Frustrated by Monogamy Independent Idealists

6 Poly Cultural Practices New partners incorporated for novelty NOT to displace/replace long term ones Disinterest in Western cultures celebration of the one. NRE viewed as a temporary state, not a reason to disrupt ones home life. Avoidance of romantic love roller coasters

7 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 Polygyny Polyandry

8 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

9 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 function to inoculate individuals from romantic love roller coasters. little need to be validated from the confirmation of mutual love

10 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

11 Pair Bonding Banned by Oneida and Kerista Focused on group love Starling brothers and sisters Discouraged investment in NRE

12 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

13 Sex-Love Jealousy Biological Roots males fear being deceived into raising a child that is not biologically theirs. 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 partners time, energy and resources will be directed outside of their home and their children.

14 Kinds of Jealousy Possessive Jealousy 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

15 Jealousy and Monogamy Jealousy 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

16 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 dont get along

17 Ways Swinging Limits Jealousy Taste but Dont Surrender No elaborate Seduction Limited Sharing Preserve Social/Legal Monogamy Safer Sex Viral and Emotional Avoid Engaging Highly Attractive Players

18 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)

19 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.

20 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

21 Data Limitations Filling out a questionnaire over a 15- minute 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.

22 Overview 58 males 82 females Peak Baby Boomers male median age female median age -- 43

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24 Compersion Measures Watching a partner being sexual with someone else Being Watched by Ones 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?

25 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

26 Survey Conclusions Prior 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.

27 Statistically Significant Correlations Males more compersive than females greater number of partners per year--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

28 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

29 The Polyamory Blur Limit NRE elevating experiences Reduces emotional spectrum Embrace Compersive Thinking Tolerate 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


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