Entries in multiple partners (6)


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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Sexual Double Standards: Evidence from Female and Male Control Theories

The sexual double standard refers to the general perception that males who engage in casual sexual exploits are studs whereas women who do the same are sluts. Where does this double standard come from? Past work pinned it on females, who are responsible for protecting their "mate value" in the "mating marketplace." However, new research by Dr. Laurie Rudman, Janell Fetterolf, and Dr. Diana Sanchez (Rutgers University) indicates that male's perceptions of sexually permissive women are the primary contributor to this persistent sexual double standard.

Read more about this study in a post by the researchers here.


“Tulizana!”: Taming Sexual Networks in Tanzania

There has been a lot of talk in the American media recently about a perhaps more “evolved” form of love in which people have open or multiple relationships—polyamory. Tanzanians have a history of this practice through polygynous practices (having multiple wives), which is rooted in the Bantu tradition. In fact, polygyny is permitted for up to 4 wives in Tanzania, with the permission of the first wife.

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Big Love for Everyone: Loving and Committing to More than One Romantic Partner

Although plural marriages are illegal in the U.S. and many westernized countries, they are legal in over 850 different societies, and consensual non-monogamy (e.g., open marriage à la Newt Gingrich, polyamory, swinging, and other sorts of arrangements) are becoming increasingly popular. TV networks have tapped into this interest: Big Love and Sister Wives, fictional and reality TV series on HBO and TLC, respectively, show the challenges of living in a plural marriage in the United States.

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The Promiscuous Personality

It is clear that people exercise different amounts of discretion when deciding how many sexual partners to become involved with across their lives. Some ‘‘save themselves’’ for marriage while others live their life like a character on the Jersey Shore. What accounts for different people’s willingness (or lack thereof) to engage in sexual relations with multiple partners? Although this is a complex question – one clear predictor of sexual promiscuity is personality.

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Why Do Some People Date Multiple Partners at the Same Time?

A reader asked the following question: I'm interested in why some people like dating multiple people at a time and others only focus on one. Is it just for attention? Low self esteem? Or maybe it's survival of the fittest- don't stop on one until you're officially locked down?

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