Polyamory relationship models and theories

polyamory relationship models and theories

I have some beginning thoughts on the game theory of polyamory that I'd . relationships, this model proves the increased benefit of polyamory. polyamorists rethink feeling rules about love, relationships and jealousy with the goal of feminist intersectionality theory, queer theory, critical sexualities theory and an insider dominant model that they are attempting to re-envision?. However, as polyamory extends beyond sexual connection, individuals Model [ 32–33], based on Interdependence Theory, proposes that.

Others practising non-monogamy prefer multiple relationships that are independent of one another. Some rules are simple, such as "no sleepovers. Most people are not aware of how attachment and bonding occur at a neurobiological level. Humans start falling in love when they spend increasing amounts of time with one another and touch one another.

These acts release oxytocin in the brain, which is the hormone associated with bonding. By limiting time spent and limiting physical proximity, people can reduce the likelihood of falling in love. It's not something that works all of the time. If people are not getting basic emotional needs met within their primary relationship, this puts a person at risk of falling in love. This is the same pain someone feels when a partner breaks up with them in the context of a monogamous relationship.

We can be attracted and feel emotionally connected to more than one person at a time. Despite this distinction, most research exploring polyamory collapses polyamory under the broad category of CNM with these other relationship types though it is important to note that forming committed relationships with multiple partners is quite distinct from having fleeting relationships or casual sex partners on the side. Research shows that individuals in CNM relationships are as equally satisfied with and committed to their relationships as individuals in monogamous relationships [ 4 ].

Additionally, consensually non-monogamous and monogamous couples do not differ in reports of relationship quality e. These studies, therefore, suggest that CNM relationships do not significantly differ from monogamous relationships on a number of relationship quality indicators.

The myths, realities and challenges in polyamorous relationships - The Globe and Mail

However, as polyamory involves more intimate involvements than other forms of CNM, meaningful relationship processes may extend to partners beyond the initial dyad, a similarity that may not be expected in open relationships or swinging.

More specifically, in open relationships or swinging arrangements, we would not expect substantial commitment or investment to occur with partners beyond the initial dyad because these relationships are typically premised around sex. However, as polyamory extends beyond sexual connection, individuals may report that commitment does exist with partners beyond the initial dyad. Current research is just beginning to explore potential differences in the relationship dynamics an individual has with multiple partners [ 19 ].

For example, Mogilski and colleagues [ 19 ] found no significant differences between relationship satisfaction ratings of monogamous partners and CNM primary partners, however, the difference between ratings of monogamous partners and CNM secondary partners was marginally significant, such that CNM participants reported higher relationship satisfaction with their primary partner than with their secondary partner.

polyamory relationship models and theories

There were some important limitations, however, in their study: In this case, the authors collapsed across the various forms of non-monogamy i. Investigating how polyamorous individuals think, feel, and behave within their different romantic relationships is essential for developing an understanding of the psychological processes involved in the maintenance of multiple simultaneous romantic relationships. Relationship acceptance and secrecy Approximately While previous research has highlighted the fact that polyamory is not widely accepted and is a socially stigmatized relationship configuration [ 22 ], to our knowledge no research has empirically tested whether individuals with more than one romantic partner perceive a lack of acceptance from family and friends, and further, whether this acceptance varies across relationships.

One important source of relationship acceptance is the family [ 23 ]. More specifically, Goffman [ 24 — 25 ] suggests that in an attempt to maintain compatibility between personal and social identities, individuals who are subject to stigma may employ strategies to reduce the possibility that others will notice their involvement in discredited behavior [ 26 ]. We hypothesized that in polyamorous relationships, the mean amount of perceived acceptance from family for primary relationships would be greater than the mean amount of acceptance for secondary relationships Hypothesis 1.

Additionally, it is likely that the expectations from important peers e. We therefore hypothesized that the mean amount of perceived acceptance from friends for primary relationships would also be greater than the mean amount of acceptance for secondary relationships Hypothesis 2. While we expect primary relationships to receive greater acceptance from family and friends, contrary to family, individuals can select their friends and may be likely to select friends who are either similar to or more accepting of their relationships.

We thus predicted that family would be perceived as less accepting of secondary relationships than friends Hypothesis 3. Furthermore, the desire to comply with customs and norms, or to avoid stigma, could result in greater secrecy about polyamorous relationships, particularly, when it comes to relationship partners beyond the primary relationship members. We therefore hypothesized that in polyamorous relationships, the mean amount of romantic secrecy would be greater for secondary relationships than the mean amount of romantic secrecy reported for primary relationships Hypothesis 4.

While stigma towards CNM has been documented at the general level i.

polyamory relationship models and theories

Relationship investment and commitment processes Interdependence theory posits that individuals initiate and maintain relationships because of the benefits of interactions in a relationship [ 28 — 30 ].

As relationships develop, the interaction amongst partners yields outcomes in the forms of rewards e. Commitment, in turn, promotes relationship persistence.

polyamory relationship models and theories

In polyamorous relationships, anecdotal evidence suggests primary partners may afford certain rewards because primary partners can share in major life decisions and can help to promote greater levels of interdependence e.

Some experiences and behaviors that are more common among primary partnerships, such as relationship approval and the ability to exist as a publicly recognized couple especially when secrecy in other relationships is salient may be additionally rewarding.

In contrast, other experiences and behaviors that are likely more common among secondary relationships may have relationship deterring effects, such as maintaining a romantic bond in social climates that marginalize and devalue polyamorous relationships. For these reasons, we further expected that it should be more difficult to develop interdependence in secondary relationships compared to primary relationships. A practical matter to also consider is the degree to which one invests in and is therefore able to commit to a relationship, given that many investments are, by their nature, limited.

More specifically, if the primary partner is the recipient of many of the investments typical in traditional relationship trajectories moving in together, getting married, having children, etc. Additionally, previous research utilizing the Investment Model Scale found that individuals in marginalized relationships invest significantly less than individuals in nonmarginalized relationships [ 34 ].

Taken together, we predicted that the mean amount of investments for primary relationships would be greater than the mean amount of investments reported in secondary relationships Hypothesis 5. Additionally, it has been suggested that denying or hiding a relationship can decrease relationship satisfaction because it can represent a devaluing of the relationship [ 35 ], and creates anxiety about the relationship itself [ 36 ].

polyamory relationship models and theories

Keeping a relationship secret is also linked to elevated reports of physical and psychological stress [ 37 ], another factor that might be expected to lower relationship quality. Recent research has also found that within CNM relationships, participants reported higher overall relationship satisfaction with primary compared to secondary relationships and considered their primary partner to be more desirable as a long-term mate than their secondary partner [ 19 ].

Thus, we predicted that individuals in polyamorous relationships would be more satisfied with primary relationships than secondary relationships Hypothesis 6. That said, to the degree that individuals have chosen to stay with a primary partner while pursuing other alternatives as opposed to leaving that relationship entirelywe predicted that the perceived quality of alternatives would be lower for assessments of primary compared to secondary relationships Hypothesis 7.

More specifically, individuals in polyamorous relationships should be less likely to desire leaving the primary partner for another equivalent relationship, and somewhat more likely to desire leaving a secondary partner for another equivalent relationship. Lastly, to the extent that the above predictions are true—that primary relationships are indeed associated with greater satisfaction and investments and fewer alternatives—this would be expected to translate to greater commitment for primary compared to secondary relationships, consistent with the central prediction of the Investment Model Hypothesis 8.

Additional reasoning for this hypothesis comes from other research finding that marginalization is a negative predictor of commitment [ 34 ]. Given that secondary relationships are thought to be more marginalized than primary relationships, we would expect commitment to the former to be lower than commitment to the latter.

Relationship communication Communication is an extremely valuable skill in any relationship, but particular importance is placed on communication in the context of polyamorous and other CNM relationships.

Polyamorists actively sustain their engagements with multiple partners through an ideology that emphasizes open and honest communication [ 8 ].

To facilitate this communication, most individuals practicing polyamory report making agreements, or freely chosen rules with their partners regarding intimate behaviors, preferred level of knowledge about other partners, and so forth [ 912 ]. Agreements are particularly salient and important to sustaining primary relationships in polyamory for multiple reasons.

In order to make agreements that facilitate other relationships while protecting the primary relationship, communication amongst partners about their relationship, needs, and expectations is essential.

The myths, realities and challenges in polyamorous relationships

In previous research, communication was found to be one of the variables that contributed to maintaining commitment between primaries in long-term polyamorous relationships [ 38 ]. Thus, we hypothesized that the level of communication about the relationship would be perceived as greater in primary relationships than secondary relationships Hypothesis 9.

Further, we expected that when asked to compare their relationships to most other people participants know, the quality of communication would be perceived as greater for primary relationships than secondary relationships Hypothesis This may, in part, be due to a greater need to communicate, and due to more practice communicating, considering that primary relationships tend to have greater relationship duration to be discussed in more detail in the Results.

Percentage of time spent on sexual activity While most of the predictions discussed thus far highlight the potential rewards attributed to primary relationships in comparison to secondary relationships, one potential reward that can be attributed to secondary relationships involves sexual activity. Given that secondary relationships tend to be newer partnerships and that the typical trajectory of sexual activity in relationships involves a greater frequency of sex early on that declines over time [ 39 ], we predicted that polyamorists would report a greater amount of time spent engaging in sexual activity out of the total time spent together in secondary relationships Hypothesis Importantly, we focus on the percentage instead of the frequency because it is presumed that participants will spend more time in general with primary partners.

Perceptions of primary and secondary relationships in polyamory

If people spend less total time with secondary compared to primary partners, than frequency comparisons would be unfairly biased towards less frequent sex with secondary partners by virtue of the lack of access. In the present research, we test predictions regarding differences in the perceptions of two concurrent romantic relationships i.

Specifically, we focus on acceptance and secrecy, investment and commitment processes, as well as communication about the relationship and sexual frequency across relationships. Materials and methods Participants Research was conducted in accordance with the ethical guidelines of the American Psychological Association.