The modern world is obsessed with love and with finding a partner with whom you can spend forever with. Every movie, book and TV show tricks us into believing in soulmates and one true loves, in finding that one person in the whole world who’ll be your perfect match and who’ll spend the rest of your life with you. But what about polyamory?
Sadly, this pervasive belief in monogamy doesn’t apply that well to real life. 40 to 50 percent of married couples end up divorced and the rate is even higher for couples who’ve been married previously. Younger generations have started to slowly change mentalities and revolutionize how the world views sex and love. An estimated 4 to 5 percent of americans who are involved in romantic and sexual relationships with a partner are open to finding love outside of their relationship.
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This phenomenon is known as polyamory, the belief that people can have more than one romantic and sexual partner at the same time. Polyamorous individuals believe in communication, in discussing their needs and requirements openly, and in creating a consensually non-monogamous relationship where everyone knows where they stand.
“People in these relationships really communicate. They communicate to death,”
Bjarne Holmes, a psychologist from Vermont, believes that communication is a value that polyamorous individuals can teach to monogamous ones. He expressed that polyamorous people care a lot about their emotions, especially honesty and communication. These people engage in a lot of bargaining with their partners, discussing and trying to please each individual’s wants and needs.
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One of the most puzzling and interesting things about polyamory is their relationship to jealousy. The general population would feel bad if the person they’re in love with had sex or fell in love with someone else. Polyamorous people feel “compersion”, a feeling of happiness when a partner finds love outside of you. In heterosexual relationships, men feel more insecure for sexual infidelity while women worry about emotional infidelity. In polyamorous relationships, there are no gender differences when it comes to emotional or sexual infidelity. These individuals still get jealous, but they try to find the root of their problem, why they’re feeling that way, and what they can all do to establish some boundaries and make everyone feel as safe as possible.
The study of polyamory is a new field that still needs a lot of research and study. Similar research could include the studies during the 70’s conducted on swingers and couples who explored sex with other people with their partners consent. This phenomenon is different because these couples engaged in this behavior sporadically; they were still monogamous in their day to day lives.
From the data collected, queer people are more likely to be polyamorous than heterosexual individuals. The more people are open and comfortable with themselves, the more they’re likely to try out new experiences. Studies also suggest that polyamorous people are more educated than the average population, a lot of them having master degrees and doctorates.
Holmes says that in the future monogamy and polyamory will coexist, with monogamy being the majority and with some individuals fluctuating between polyamory and monogamy throughout their lives. Polyamory can teach us about the importance of communication and honesty. These individuals seem to be ahead of the curve, so we can all do with taking some of their advice.