Are Polyamorous Relationships Common?

May 2 '2023, 5:18 PM | By Chris

In our society, it appears that platonic love is infinite, but romantic love is finite. No one would blink if they heard someone say they loved several family members or friends. If someone said they were deeply in love with multiple romantic partners—and everyone knew about it—moral panic would almost certainly ensue. How widespread is the desire for polyamorous relationships in which partners have multiple emotional and sexual relationships? For decades, national polling surveys have tracked Americans' dating habits. However, these studies have ignored relationships that are consensual deviations from monogamy.

There has been an increase in web searches for polyamorous relationships over the last decade, as well as media stories about couples openly discussing such relationships. Let’s check out how common the concept of polyamorous relationships is among Americans.

What Is Polyamory?

Polyamory is defined as "committed, sexual, and romantic relationships with multiple people at the same time.”  The willingness to engage and prior involvement in polyamory are both common in the US and other parts of the world. One in every six people wishes to engage in polyamory, and one in every nine has done so at some point in their lives. To put this into perspective, the number of people who want to engage in polyamory is comparable to the number of Americans who want to move to another country. In the United States, prior involvement in polyamory is as common as obtaining a graduate degree.

While the desire for and prior engagement in polyamory appears to be widespread among Americans, polyamorous relationships are highly stigmatized. Only a minority of partners who are not personally interested in polyamory seem to respect people who engage in polyamory. That is, the vast majority of those who are not personally interested in polyamory have a negative attitude toward it. 

Previous research shows that polyamorous and other forms of consensually non-monogamous relationships are stigmatized by many people (for example, open relationships, swinging, etc.). Polyamorous relationships are perceived as having low relationship quality, being immoral, being harmful to children, and having a slew of other negative connotations.

Research into Polyamorous Relationships

A growing body of research indicates that the general public has misconceptions and judgments about polyamory. According to popular polygamy dating and matchmaking services, polyamorous people report similar levels of passionate love, attachment, and satisfaction with multiple partners. Furthermore, people in polygamous and monogamous relationships report similar levels of relationship quality, such as commitment and satisfaction. In some cases, polygamists experience less jealousy than monogamists and enjoy unique benefits, including diversified fulfillment of needs. 

In many places, polyamorous people are stereotyped as being responsible for the spread of sexually transmitted infections. Even though people who engage in polyamory have a greater number of sexual partners, they prefer safer sexual practices than those in monogamous relationships and have similar STI contracting rates.

Social studies research has largely ignored various types of intimate relationships. It turns out that a desire for and prior involvement in polyamory is common—probably more common than you thought.

Published By: Sister Wives 

Matchmakers Inc


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