Polyamorous relationships may be more fullfilling than monogamous ones (for a time at least)

While there is a rich body of literature in the social sciences focusing on romantic relationships, most research falls within a monogamous structure. In a new study, researchers at York University in Toronto provide new insights into polyamorous relationships — meaning, being able to have open sexual or consensual romantic relationships with more than one person at a time — and why some people prefer them. According to the findings, having more than one romantic partner may help individuals better meet their needs for eroticism and nurturing.

A different romantic partner for different needs

Rhonda Balzarini, a post-doc in psychology at York University, says it is common for couples early in their relationship to experience high desire and passion, leading to frequent sex — this is often referred to as the ‘honeymoon phase’. Later in the relationship, sexual intensity tends to fade away, while comfort and intimacy tend to increase. But does this dynamic also apply to other types of romantic relationships?

In their new study, Balzarini and colleagues investigated how polyamorous and monogamous relationships differ in their ability to fulfill partner’s needs for eroticism (sexual intensity, pleasure, and passion) and nurturance (comfort and security).

The researchers recruited 2,183 monogamous and 1,168 polyamorous individuals who were surveyed about their experiences of eroticism and nurturance, as well as their sexual satisfaction and closeness with their partners. Those in polyamorous relationships had to rate these aspects twice: once for their primary partner with whom they had more commitments, and once for their secondary partner, with whom they had less ongoing commitments.

The results published in the journal Social Psychology, suggest that those in polyamorous relationships experienced greater nurturance with primary partners compared to secondary and monogamous partners. At the same time, they also experienced greater eroticism with secondary partners compared to primary and monogamous partners.

“One key takeaway is that people in polyamorous relationships do seem to diversify their need fulfillment across their relationships and this may allow them to experience the best of both worlds (high eroticism and nurturance simultaneously),” Balzarini wrote in an article for PsyPost.

“This does not mean that everyone should engage in polyamory but suggests that there might be benefits to diversifying need fulfillment and relying on different people to meet different needs. Although people in monogamous relationships are not permitted to have their sexual needs met outside of the relationship, they may be able to diversify their need fulfillment in other ways — for example, by seeking out friends and family to meet needs for support, adventure, or intellectual stimulation,” she added.

The researchers also found that when polyamorous participants experienced greater eroticism with a primary partner, they tended to have less closeness with the secondary partner.

In the future, the researchers would like to investigate whether experiencing eroticism and nurturance from non-romantic partners (i.e. friends and family for nurturing and pornography for eroticism) can compensate for unsatisfactory levels in one’s romantic relationship. It would also be interesting to see a study of how polyamorous relationships evolve over time and whether they deteriorate faster and more often than monogamous relationships. Can you really have the best of both worlds? Maybe, but perhaps not for long. In other words, each partner may be happy with their polyamorous arrangement — until they’re not anymore.

This sort of research might reveal hidden nuances regarding the evolution of romantic relationships. Most societies in the world today are comprised of monogamous couples, both for heterosexual and homosexual individuals. So there may be many reasons why monogamy is culturally superior to consented polygamy — and science might one-day have an elaborate answer to share.


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The Chauffeur

One of the worst dates I’ve ever gone on was all my fault.

I met a girl on tinder who I had been talking to for a while. She always flaked on me last minute or would randomly start ignoring me. We tried a few times, but she always bailed so I just gave up.

Finally she reached out again to meet up and said she wasn’t over an ex or something but now she was so I agreed.

Anyway, a little back story, I had been out of the country for over a year traveling so when I got back to the USA I moved in with my parents and basically didn’t have any clothes except the few I bought when I got back as the rest were in a storage unit.

I throw all my clothes in the wash after work to be ready for my date. About 1.5 hours later I went to take them out of the wash and throw them in the dryer, and noticed the washing machine was still filled with water. I didn’t know what to do so I just picked out the outfit I wanted and threw it in the dryer. . . they were soaked.

She took and Uber to the bar where we were meeting and literally texted me that she was there and I hadn’t even left them house yet. I was only like 7 minutes away and just blamed not being able to find my keys or something, and that I would just be a few minutes late. I didn’t want to cancel the whole time because I finally got a date with her but literally my clothes were still sooooo soggy and damp.

Whatever, I threw them on. Now the situation gets worse.

Can’t find my wallet ANYWHERE. I panic and leave without it. Thankfully my friend is manager of the bar so I give him a call to make sure I can pay another time. He says no problem and will let the bartender know.

I drive to the bar holding my shirt out the window in my wet jeans and boxers. I see her and she gets up to give me a hug and I have to explain why I’m wet, she laughs, thinks its funny, whatever.

Finally we are ready to leave, and the bartender gives me the check. WTF that wasn’t supposed to happen. I stall for a bit and then see my friend is finished her shift. . . yes she works there too lol, I didn’t tell my date any of this though. I tell my date I knew those people over by (where my friend was having an after shift drink with her other server friends) and I was going to say hi before we left. I discreetly toss my friend the check and say I’ll explain later. Perfect, crisis averted.

Now we leave the bar and I ask her if I can give her a ride home instead of Ubering, she agrees. I get in the car and notice I have little fuel. . . but no worries I read even when it hits 0 you can still go for a while. Of course she lives in like the furthest point of the town from where we are. It’s like up these winding hills in the middle of the woods. Of course, my car comes to a halt. That was a difficult one to explain, and finally I just had to admit I couldn’t find my wallet but I didn’t want to cancel the date and now my car is out of gas.

No worries, I go to call a Lyft, as that’s the only ride share app I have. Of course, we’re in such a remote area there aren’t any, not to mention its late. Can’t download Uber because I don’t have a credit card on me so she has to call one. We have to awkwardly wait for soooo long. Even worse, the first 2 gas stations we go to are closed. Finally we get to a Wawa that’s open. We go in and by a gas canister and I had to turn to her for payment. She gets us that and fills it with gas. We go to get in the Uber and he won’t let me in with a gas can.

We finally get back to my car still sitting in the middle of the road because I don’t know how to put it in neutral to move it when the car is not on. I drive her to her house and before I leave she hands be $10 for gas to get myself home.

My wallet was swimming in the washing machine. What a night…

I got a second date.


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