Entries in consensual non-monogamy (4)

Tuesday
Aug252015

Polyamory: Understanding Relationship Geometry

Relationship Configurations

When relationships are examined by the media and/or empirical research, the focus is often on the traditional monogamous couple (i.e., one male and female, two males, or two females). These monogamous relationships are depicted as the natural and healthy ideal.1 Conversely, the media often portrays those in consensually non-monogamous (CNM) relationships as deviants; and therapists also suggest that the existence of CNM relationships mean the primary relationship is troubled.1 Clearly, there is a stigma surrounding non-monogamy, and, therefore, non-monogamy is generally not openly discussed. This is problematic, not only because non-monogamous individuals are often stereotyped, but they also suffer from a lack of support within the therapeutic community. Nicole Graham, a psychiatrist, writes, “It is apparent that a lack of awareness of and appreciation for non-traditional relationship patterns can have deleterious effects, including but not limited to a lack of objectivity, inadvertent criticism and potential pathologization of individuals, damaged therapeutic alliances, resultant treatment non-adherence, and potentially poorer patient outcomes.”2

This article will discuss why it is so important to understand the various types of relationship configurations that exist, specifically polyamory, as well as provide a first-hand account and a deeper understanding of the polyamorous community. First, it is important to recognize that there are a variety of relationship configurations. For a brief discussion of non-monogamous relationships, please refer to my previous article on open relationships (see here).3

As previously mentioned, there are many societal, as well as therapeutic benefits of taking a closer look at CNM relationships. Mental health practitioners must be able to recognize the sexual fluidity both within individuals and within their relationship arrangements.  Marianne Brandon, a clinical psychologist asks,

“If we as treators cannot accept and contain the monogamy challenge, how can we help our patients to do the same?...And if we chose to criticize our patients’ non-monogamous choices can we still optimally assist them in the intimate challenges for which they seek help? Probably not. And our patients need our help now more than ever”4

In order to be able to help those who come in with an “unconventional” relationship style, therapists must address their personal biases, and what better way to do that than by learning more about unconventional relationships?

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Monday
Jun152015

Is Marriage Really Synonymous with Monogamy?

After her husband of 18 years reveals that he has gotten a vasectomy, successful magazine journalist Robin Rinaldi comes to the sinking realization that she will not have the family she had once hoped for. Being that she can’t create the home life she dreamed of, she decides to go down a different path and explore her sexuality. In her book, The Wild Oats Project,1 Rinaldi discusses her quest for passion after she proposes an arrangement in which she will live on her own and be free to take on lovers during the week, while returning home to her role as a wife on the weekends. The book discusses her sexual quest to feel fulfilled as she takes on both male and female lovers and attend workshops geared towards getting in touch with her sexual self. Lest I spoil the end of her intriguing narrative, it would be better to leave you questioning whether or not her marriage was able to sustain the shake-up caused by this mutually, albeit somewhat coerced, agreement. Also, whether or not her marriage survived, it begs the question: Is marriage really synonymous with monogamy?

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Tuesday
May132014

Consensual Non-Monogamy and Attachment Avoidance: Relationship Matters Podcast 32

In the 32nd installment of SAGE’s Relationship Matters podcast, hosted by Dr. Bjarne Holmes of Champlain College, Amy Moors (University of Michigan) discusses her research on consensual non-monogamy (an umbrella term that refers to polyamory, swinging, and open-relationships) – or relationships where partners do not have an expectation of complete sexual exclusivity.

Dr. Moors points out that our society generally views monogamy as the ideal form of partnering within romantic relationships and stigmatizes consensual non-monogamous relationships. Despite such a stigma, however, a sizeable minority of people (3 to 5% in her samples) engage in non-monogamous relationships and report high levels of relationship satisfaction.

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Saturday
Jan192013

New Developments in Consensual Non-Monogamy Research

An up-and-coming area of relationships research examines “consensual non-monogamy”—the phenomenon in relationships where partners engage (sexually and emotionally) with other people, and that this is a mutually-accepted norm. This symposium featured our own Jennifer Harman and Bjarne Holmes (both ScienceOfRelationships.com contributors).

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