Understanding Polyamorous Relationships In Today's Society
It turns out that polyamorous relationships can provide some valuable lessons for people in monogamous relationships, according to research.
Polyamorous relationships don't feature on application forms, but anecdotal evidence suggests that they are on the rise. In fact, there's a whole international community of poly practitioners, and they're calling for their relationships to become legal. All this raises the question of whether the future of love may be very different from our current conceptions of romance.
Even though it seems that polyamorous relationships are a new thing, they're really not. We might be used to monogamy today, but it didn't become popular until about 10,000 years ago. And especially not in our part of the world. Polygamy was the norm for many of our hunter-gatherer ancestors. And monogamy thrived mainly because of religious and economic reasons.
Are There Any Benefits To Polyamorous Relationships?
People who practice polyamory say that their relationships force them to be better and do better. For instance, having multiple love interests places a demand on them to take health and hygiene seriously. It also reminds them to not take any of their relationships for granted.
Freedom and Acceptance
Polyamory is further pushing the definitions of marriage; by releasing the concept of ownership in relationships; unless, of course, if you’re into that sort of thing. While often difficult at first, there’s no feeling like compersion, which comes from offering your partners an unrestricted ability to share love with others and delighting in the joy they find.
Similar to switching from fossil fuels to solar energy, polyamorous relationships remind you that, as the sun, love is abundant and can be shared with multiple people in non-threatening ways. And really, on our deathbeds, will any of us regret trying to have loved more deeply and more often?
Also, research has shown that the practice can allow polyamorous people to have their sexual and companionship needs met simultaneously; which is less likely to happen in long-term partnerships with only two people.
With monogamy, most or all of your needs are expected to be met within the relationship. This can be a challenge when only one partner enjoys spooning all night; or public displays of affection (PDAs); or winter camping or strip poker or BDSM or…well, you get the idea. With polyamorous people, it is more likely you'll find relationships that fulfill you without needing to pressure your other partners to do things they don’t enjoy. On the downside, this can also raise the bar for your original partners.
Life is hard sometimes. You’re home with the flu. Work sucks! A family member is in trouble or passes away. Having multiple partners to bring chicken soup or vent about your boss with or cry on their shoulders can offer incredible emotional and physical support. And when living together, combining incomes and extra help with household chores and raising kids can make life much easier for everyone.
Disadvantages Of The Polyamorous Life
Some of the downsides to this way of life include:
What Monogamous Couples Can Learn From Polyamorous Relationships, According to Experts
Successful monogamous relationships require communication about desires, needs, and problems. And this is one area where polyamorous couples excel. A study published in PLOS One noted that people in consensual non-monogamous relationships communicate to “negotiate agreements, schedules, and boundaries; and to work through the kinds of problems that emerge when negotiating polyamory; amongst the typical relational problems that can emerge in any relationship.”
Defining the relationship
Polyamorous partners often define boundaries and form agreements about what each relationship should look like, and these agreements can be beneficial to monogamous relationships, where partners might assume they’re on the same page about what monogamy means.
Practicing safe sex
A 2012 study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine found that individuals in polyamorous relationships were more likely to practice safe sex than those who cheat in monogamous relationships. The study showed that monogamous individuals often consider monogamy a safe sex practice in and of itself; so “sexually unfaithful individuals may reject safer sex strategies because of the presence of a stable relationship.”