Puffing Up Polyamory

A mate who may be vying for a coveted Research Assistant’s position on this blog forwards me this article from Men’s Health:

More Americans are showing interest in polyamory, or relationships where you have more than one romantic or sexual partner, according to a new study published in The Journal of Sex Research.

For the study, Amy Moors, Ph.D., director of social science research and evaluation for the College of Engineering at Purdue University, looked at data gathered from Google Trends between January 2006 and December 2015.

Moors analyzed the search volume for the terms “polyamory,” “open relationships,” and “swingers,” comparing them to control keywords like “Facebook” and “quotes.” She discovered that searches for “polyamory” and “open relationships” increased over time, while searches for “swingers”—a more old-fashioned term—decreased over time.

Personally I don’t think this means much, but it’s definitely a term that’s entering the general lexicon. This should be good for my book sales.

Moors says that while it’s not possible to know why exactly people are searching for these terms, it’s clear that an increasing number of people are thinking about non-monogamy and looking for information about it.

My guess is people are finding the term cropping up in online dating profiles, or meeting mentally ill people from Brooklyn who’ve never known anything else.

Unsurprisingly, part of the reason for an increased interest in open relationships is due to their appearance on TV. “Several of the large spikes in internet searches related to polyamory and open relationships are tied to popular TV shows and press,” she says.

Well, yes. TV shows exist in part to push an agenda set by the sort of liberal arts graduates who go into media, and polyamory is but the latest fad being promoted. Just as Sex and the City convinced a generation of women they could slut it up around New York until their mid-30s before settling down with a multi-millionaire playboy, no doubt these new shows will convince some that having meaningless sex with a succession of low-grade partners is a viable lifestyle choice.

Though, she says, it’s hard to say whether people are Googling this info because they’re just curious about what they’re seeing on the small screen or they’re actually interested in trying it themselves, the topic is definitely on the public’s mind.

It’s on the public’s mind because TV shows, magazines, and newspapers won’t stop promoting it.

Moors adds that non-monogamous relationships are widely misunderstood and stigmatized.

So will Moors add some clarity or muddy the waters? What do you think?

“There isn’t scientific evidence to suggest that humans are unable to love and/or engage in sex with more than one person,” she says.

That’s a handy strawman, isn’t it? Nobody is saying humans can’t love or have sex with multiple partners, but a quick survey of several billion people and a couple thousand years of human development would suggest that if you’re interested in a stable, functioning, relationship which benefits both the individuals, society, and any children then monogamy is probably the way to go. Sure, some people might be able to watch their partner go off with someone else and have sex and not bat an eyelid, but let’s not pretend this is common. She might as well say there is no scientific evidence for jealousy and insecurity.

“In fact, some of my recent work compared relationship quality based on trust, satisfaction, passionate love among people engaged in consensually non-monogamous, and monogamous relationships and found no differences.”

And how did you measure “relationship quality”? Did you look at longevity? Did you look at how many people, when ending a polyamorous relationship, quit the practice altogether and return to monogamy versus those going in the other direction?

“I anticipate that consensually non-monogamous relationships will become more mainstream,” Moors says.

I don’t know about that, but I am quite confident the propaganda won’t ease up.

Even polyamorists aren’t convinced by the practice. Consider this article I stumbled across this morning:

I just realized that I’ve had 5 different relationships which ended because the other person wanted to monogamous.

This implies they were already in a polyamorous relationship, but one of them wanted monogamy.

Two of them, (or more?), I also know they wanted to have kids. It makes me wonder if there’s a link between monogamy and plans for children.

This kid is nothing if not sharp!

I wonder if people that plan to procreate are more interested in monogamy because they’re looking for a partner that will be looking inwards towards their family. Their only priorities will be their children and partner, and not be distracted by other love affairs.

Who knew, eh?

Reading between the lines, this second article sounds as though it’s written by a man who likes shagging around with women who are dabbling in polyamory (probably due to low self-esteem, daddy issues, or personality disorders) but really want to settle down with a loving partner and have kids. The first article, like so many others, is fundamentally dishonest in refusing to address the obvious difficulties polyamorous relationships create, especially for those who want to have children.

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23 thoughts on “Puffing Up Polyamory

  1. This is part of the overall push of taking a feelgood or what seems a reasonable concept in general, one noone can disagree with and conflating and twisting it, applying it in a way which was never the case. this is the cleverness of the bgrs pushing the Narrative.

  2. I think the real challenge is around jealousy and stability for kids. Historically where you had a single uber male (Chinese or Ottoman emperor for example) there was no societal issue whatever with harems and the imperial kids did well! But polyamory is clearly not a viable choice in a free society if you want the kids to not get screwed over or up. Co-ercive, one sided polyamory for a single male’s benefit – fine. Free and equal – not so much.

  3. I think the real challenge is around jealousy and stability for kids.

    That, and the fact that a lot of people seem to go into as a coping mechanism rather than a lifestyle choice. It’s a bit like drugs: sure, there are lots of normal, functioning people who decide to take drugs but we don’t use them as a basis for ignoring those who are into drugs for all the wrong reasons, use them as a coping mechanism, and end up a lot worse off. If you meet someone who says they are a heavy drugs user, what do you assume about them? Are you being unfair to assume the might be fucked up, rather than a normal, functioning person who just happens to like coke?

    Of course not, and it’s the same with polyamory: the onus is on the polyamorist to demonstrate they are not fucked up and they’re in it for the right reasons, specific to them. Instead, they demand everyone accepts it uncritically and if you ask them to demonstrate they are normal you get a load of obfuscation irrelevant to polyamory (as my previous posts have documented) or they go apeshit.

  4. The key to any long term relationship is trust. I struggle to see how any multi-partner situation is ever going to develop the kind of trust that allows people to survive life’s inevitable ups and downs without looking for the exist in under 30 seconds the moment the stress builds.

  5. As a divorced male, my first and only reaction to such articles is “more than one?!”
    – – –
    Quote: “She discovered that searches for “polyamory” and “open relationships” increased over time, while searches for “swingers”—a more old-fashioned term—decreased over time.”

    TN: “This should be good for my book sales.”

    If a new reader goes no further, he’s going to have an interesting impression of Mr. Newman.

  6. Anyone dumb enough to want a relationship with two partners should be allowed to do so without penalty. It is the hiding and lies that cause all the issues.

  7. Patrick
    Not so great for the Sultan’s sons who didn’t get chosen to be Sultan. Put in a sack, beaten to death, dumped in the Bosphorous.
    Also, the more harems or more numerous the harem, the more other males miss out. Not a good recipe for a stable society. However, it might explain increased levels of homosexuality in Eastern countries. Does any one know if there’s any research on this?

  8. there are lots of normal, functioning people who decide to take drugs but we don’t use them as a basis for ignoring those who are into drugs for all the wrong reasons

    I once commented to a polyamorous friend: “We single people have a word for polyamory. We call it dating.”

  9. Lord T

    “It is the hiding and lies that cause all the issues.”

    I beg to differ. There’s a lot to be said for discretion and for hypocrisy. I really don’t want to know about the sexual practices of my neighbours, friends and acquaintances. ‘Openness’ about your sexual orientation and practices is for those who get a thrill from advertising how radical and transgressive they are.

  10. ‘Openness’ about your sexual orientation and practices is for those who get a thrill from advertising how radical and transgressive they are.

    I have noticed that the polyamorous seem to share that trait with vegans.

  11. @DavidReam

    Let’s add it to the list of questions you never need to ask (because they’ll tell you the moment they meet you);

    – Are you vegan?
    – Do you do Crossfit?
    – Are you from Yorkshire/Texas/Queen’sland?
    – Are you in a polyamorous relationship?

    @David Moore

    What’s that Nicholas Cage line? “There’s only two men I trust, I’m one of them and you ain’t the other fellah”.

  12. It is the hiding and lies that cause all the issues.

    As I’ve said before, I don’t really care what they do – until they start promoting it as perfectly normal and pushing it via the media as a viable option for ordinary people, demanding various “rights” as they go about it.

  13. If a new reader goes no further, he’s going to have an interesting impression of Mr. Newman.

    That’s what keeps ’em coming back.

  14. I beg to differ. There’s a lot to be said for discretion and for hypocrisy. I really don’t want to know about the sexual practices of my neighbours, friends and acquaintances.

    Yes.

    ‘Openness’ about your sexual orientation and practices is for those who get a thrill from advertising how radical and transgressive they are.

    Exactly. The polyamorist I knew hung around with a bunch whose entire lifestyles consisted of non-stop attention-seeking.

  15. “In fact, some of my recent work compared relationship quality based on trust, satisfaction, passionate love among people engaged in consensually non-monogamous, and monogamous relationships and found no differences In fact, some of my recent work compared relationship quality based on trust, satisfaction, passionate love among people engaged in consensually non-monogamous, and monogamous relationships and found no differences.”

    I recall reading an article a while ago about the value of an item and mistakes in selection. It went something along the lines of if you are conned out of 5 pounds/dollars or you buy a piece of crap, there is little loss to you and you will loudly proclaim that the person selling you the item is a charlatan, a rogue and you should never deal with them.

    On the other hand, how many people do you know buy a really expensive item (a 50,000 pounds car, a house is that is WAY overvalued) and proclaim that they have made a mistake?

    In the first instance, it is a case of anyone could have made the same error and the loss of cash, prestige, “face” etc. is no big deal so you admit to it.

    In the second case, you double down and proclaim that indeed you made the right choice, think up of excuses and justifications and do not admit you boobed big time, thereby saving embarrassment.

    The context was in relation to companies buying computer systems and software where they justified their bad decisions and tried to convince others to make the same mistake. In the case of a Polygamous relationship, those individuals proclaiming that it is jolly fine, top notch and everyone should jump in and join them seem to resemble the “bad decision/save face” scenario.

  16. those individuals proclaiming that it is jolly fine, top notch and everyone should jump in and join them seem to resemble the “bad decision/save face” scenario.

    There’s even a term for it, it’s called the “sweet lemons” psychological defense mechanism. (cf. “sour grapes”)

  17. In the case of a Polygamous relationship, those individuals proclaiming that it is jolly fine, top notch and everyone should jump in and join them seem to resemble the “bad decision/save face” scenario.

    That was exactly the issue with the woman I knew. She’d made some catastrophic choices when she was younger, including marrying into a disastrous polyamorous relationship which she was mentally unprepared for, but refused to accept she’d made a mistake in doing so, preferring to blame everything on the husband. She’s dug such a hole for herself she can’t climb out of it without loss of face, so she’s stuck there indefinitely.

    Ten years later she still foams at the mouth defending her choices, vilifying anyone who queries them as “judgemental”. Although she never told her parents. Odd, that.

  18. As an aside-
    “She’s dug such a hole for herself she can’t climb out of it without loss of face, so she’s stuck there indefinitely.”

    How many of our collective woes are because people cannot bear to admit they were wrong? The (common, nowadays) scream of ‘hypocrite!’ I think stems from the fact that people try to move on- change their mind, in other words, whilst pretending they were right all along.

    Is it really so bad to admit you are wrong*? Especially as the defense of “When the facts change, I change my mind” seems to cover so many situations.

    I remember thinking well of Blair for his (self-described) pragmatism. To be honest, I’d want more of that pragmatism nowadays, as opposed to the ideology we get instead. Maybe, though, that’s because the ideology is so depressing.

    *although, those of us who are married, rarely need to admit error- that’s what our sposes are there for- to point that shit out.

  19. It is the hiding and lies that cause all the issues.

    I didn’t explain what I meant properly. I too am uninterested in what everyone else gets upto to in the privacy of their own homes. I simply meant that it someone is having an affair then the lies and hiding cause disruptions in the families and friends. Leading to violence and sometime deaths. Openness among your groups is to be admired.

    However, too many groups seem to things that going the other way and making their choices known to all is the way forward. Homosexuals are one of those groups and I have no interest in what they get up to but am forced to find it acceptable by law. These groups aren’t quite as bad yet.

  20. @Phil B

    There’s a great line in a Le Carre book about that. Something along the lines of “if you’ve ever bought an expensive painting, the more you paid for it the less you’re inclined to believe it’s a fake” when Smiley is referring to accepting information from a double agent.

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