- Polyamory, or a consensual relationship involving more than two partners, may sound like a recipe for jealousy and mistrust to some people in monogamous relationships.
- But research has shown that the practice can allow polyamorous people to have their sexual and companionship needs met simultaneously, which is less likely to happen in long-term partnerships with only two people.
- Insider talked to three polyamorous people to learn why the relationships work for them. They pointed to benefits like personal growth, more practical resources, and sexual satisfaction.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more.
To outsiders, polyamory — having multiple romantic partners, all of whom know about each other and consent to the setup — may seem like a recipe for jealousy and mistrust. And indeed, those feelings can come up in some situations.
But for some people, polyamory brings a lot more to their lives than it takes away.
One reason it may be so satisfying is that more partners can mean more needs met, a study in the journal Social Psychology suggests.
The study, which included thousands of people in both monogamous and polyamorous setups, found that people in polyamorous relationships may better be able to experience both nurturance (the comfort and security associated with long-term relationships) and eroticism (sexual pleasure and passion associated with new partnerships) at the same time.
Those findings ring true to Laura Russel, a librarian in Texas whose marriage began monogamously but has since opened up to include more partners.
“One partner may be less vocally affectionate, but very affectionate physically, and another partner could be the reverse,” she told Insider. “Instead of expecting one person to step up and change to meet your needs, you could have other partners that provide that nurturance through a variety of ways.”
In addition to Russel, Insider talked to two other polyamorous people to find out why non-monogamy works for them.
Polyamory can fulfill a desire to be with both men and women
Daniel Saynt, who calls himself the “chief conspirator” of the sex- and cannabis-positive club New Society for Wellness in New York City, was in a monogamous marriage through most of his 20s. He and his wife had a “don’t ask, don’t tell” understanding at first, but eventually, she wanted to know about his self-described “sexual exploits.”
Their relationship crumbled. After the two divorced, Saynt met his now-fiance, another bisexual man.
The two were in a polyamorous relationship with a woman for eight months. “The dynamic was great,” Saynt said. “I truly felt I had found what I was looking for: a loving relationship with a man and a woman.”
Russel, who’s also bisexual, finds polyamory is an ongoing educational experience in the bedroom.
“It’s nice to come home to a partner and show them something new you learned or experienced,” she said. “I can experience different things with women than I can with men, and my sexual appetite is always sated.”
More people in a relationship can mean more financial and child-rearing support
For Saynt, who’s in his mid-30s, polyamory also suits from a practical standpoint.
“We as millennials are living in an environment where it’s harder to save, harder to plan for our futures,” he said. “We’re taking longer to marry, which means it’s becoming more difficult to establish ourselves, purchase homes, and build our families.”
He says he sees his future “standing on three legs,” and not only because a woman could bring the prospect of pregnancy, but also because a third partner would mean more financial, emotional, and logistical support.
“I think there’s going to be a major shift in how we view family planning and more stories of units of people coming together to raise kids,” he said.
Polyamory could broaden your network
Andre Shakti, a sex educator, coach, and columnist in Baltimore, has been openly non-monogamous for a decade. She typically has two or three committed long-term partnerships at once, as well as some casual connections across the country.
Among other benefits, Shakti appreciates the broad resource pool her lifestyle brings her. “Whether I need someone to drive me to the airport, source prescription medications for me, or assist me with some web development work, my polyamorous network of partners and metamours — or the partner of my partner — I’m largely set,” Shakti told Insider.
Shakti, who often works more than 60 hours a week, also said being accountable to more than one person forces her to be diligent about her own self-care. “Having multiple partners in my life means being encouraged to plug self-care plans into a shared Google Calendar,” Shakti said.
Polyamory might help you grow as a person
For Saynt, competition in the relationship encourages him to always bring his best to the table.
“It makes you try harder to show your love, to do the things that remind both partners there’s enough to go around,” he said. “Being in a poly relationship leads you to being a better communicator, a better lover and a more emotionally connected individual, not only to your partners but to the world that surrounds you.”
Russel also finds polyamory has made her grow as a person. “If I feel jealousy, I sit and really dig into my psyche to figure out why, and once I have, then I can start to work through it, instead of using that jealousy to try to control my partner or lash out at them,” she said.
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