Is Polyamory a Unique Way to Experience Eroticism and Nurturing Simultaneously?

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We may not know exactly how many couples in the U.S.are polyamorous, but a 2016 study published in the Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy has shown that around one in five people in the U.S. engage in some type of consensual non-monogamous behavior at some point.

Polyamory was defined by Rolling Stone’s Zachary Lane as “being open to the idea of loving more than one person.” After all, ‘poly’ hails from the ancient Greek word for ‘many’, and ‘amory’ means ‘love’. If you think have always felt that monogamy wasn’t for you, take note of recent research indicating that being in a polyamorous relationship may just provide you with a unique chance to experience eroticism at its height while also feeling optimally nurtured and cared for.

Eroticism and Nurturance Differ in Monogamous and Polyamorous Relationships

In the abovementioned research studies, scientists noted that people in relationships usually enjoy both erotic and nurturing experiences. What makes people in monogamous and polyamorous relationships different, is that those who love more than one person can potentially enjoy more eroticism and more nurturance, than those with only one partner. Essentially, the polyamorous people reported more nurturing from their primary partner than people in monogamous relationships. This was received in the form of emotional support, closeness, security, and companionship. At the same time, they enjoyed greater eroticism with secondary partners.

Outsourcing Erotic Needs

The researchers believe that erotic needs can potentially be ‘outsourced’ consensually – for instance, through pornography. Although previous studies had indicated that pornography can actually hamper relationships, the researchers noted that this was only the case when partners differed in the type of material they enjoyed. Sexual needs can also be fulfilled through sex toys, provided both parties are in agreement. If inconsistent findings have been made with respect to the benefits/damage potentially caused by pornography, the same cannot be said regarding sex toys. A February 2019 study published in The Journal of Sex Research, for instance, cound that around 52% of adults do use sex toys in partnered sex. The researchers noted that sexual health professionals should consider sex toy use both a common and a beneficial habit.

Challenging Established Norms

Polyamory is still considered a ‘fringe’ type of relationship, though the above researchers argue that their findings indicate that the assumption that monogamy is the only valid choice – is at the very least questionable. Their discussion noted: “For many people, it may be unrealistic to expect one’s romantic partner to meet their needs for eroticism and nurturance simultaneously.” Couples don’t have to turn to third parties for erotic purposes. Sometimes, the role of nurturance can be met by friends, family, etc., so that the pressure on partners to provide their loved one’s needs, is lessened.

Research has shown that polyamory can actually be a way to have ‘the best of both worlds’ all at once. Those in this type of relationship report greater feelings of nurture from their primary partner, while experiencing the heights of eroticism with additional partners. Non-monogamous relationships may not work for everyone, but knowing that more than one way of living and loving exists, is at the very least illuminating.

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