Negotiating Pairbonding, Romantic Love and Jealousy in Polyamorous Relationships Leanna Wolfe, Ph.D. - PowerPoint PPT Presentation


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


Serial Monogamy - One Spouse at a Time. Swinging - One Spouse; Multiple Playmates ... New partners incorporated for novelty NOT to displace/replace long term ones ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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

Negotiating Pairbonding, Romantic Love and
Jealousy in Polyamorous RelationshipsLeanna
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

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

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

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

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

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

Stages of Romantic Love
  • Lust
  • sexual interest -- love at first sight
  • testosterone
  • Attraction
  • love sick, exhilaration, infatuation, NRE
  • dopamine, norepinephrine
  • Attachment
  • stability, tranquility, peace
  • ocytocin, vasopressin
  • Detachment
  • withdrawal, boredom

Brain Chemistry
  • Romantic Love raises dopamine and norepinephrine
  • 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
  • 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
  • Subject to high levels of Jealousy

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

Is it possible to be in love with more than one
  • Its very possible to be in lust with many
  • Its possible to be in the attachment phase with
    multiple partners
  • The attraction phase may be largely a
  • Rare instances of falling in love with a couple

Sex-Love Jealousy
  • Biological Roots
  • males fear being deceived into raising a child
    that is not biologically theirs.
  • Cultures 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.

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

Jealousy and Monogamy
  • Jealousy is seen as a sign of intense or true
  • 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 dont get along

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

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
  • 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
  • swingers who just engage others as a couple at
    sex parties were not included
  • created an11-point compersion index drawing from
    six compersion measures.

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

Data Limitations
  • Filling out a questionnaire over a 15-minute
    period of time offrs only a brief emotional snap
  • Most participants were ideologically inclined
    towards the logic of polyamory (re Compersion
  • Questionnaire most coherent to those living as an
    open couple.

  • 58 males
  • 82 females
  • Peak Baby Boomers
  • male median age -- 45
  • female median age -- 43

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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?

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

Changes Desired
  • 97 had no interest in ending their home
  • 13 sought to renegotiate their agreement to date
    others separately
  • About a third would like time to be apportioned
    differently, including 58 who wanted more time
    with their home partner.

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Survey Conclusions
  • Prior social, emotional and sexual independence
    did not preclude successful adaptation to
  • 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
  • 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

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

The Polyamory Blur
  • Avoid NRE elevating experiences
  • Limit 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