Polyamory in the News!
. . . by Alan M.



December 15, 2005

Commitment in Polyamorous Relationships

Masters thesis

This isn't a media item, but it would be nice if it were. Longtime poly activist Elaine Cook (a.k.a. Cascade) had her masters thesis accepted in November 2005; it's titled Commitment in Polyamorous Relationships.


I interviewed 7 long-term polyamorous couples to explore the nature of a commitment that is not defined by sexual exclusivity. I described the nature of the relationships that respondents are involved in, their conceptualization of the nature of commitment, the ways that they maintain their primary bond, and the benefits of polyamory as perceived by the participants....

The factors contributing to the success of these relationships, as mentioned by the respondents, are their appreciation of each other, their ongoing and often increasing emotional closeness, a high degree of honesty and good communication, and flexibility in meeting the desires of both people. Finding a way to meet unmet needs (other than for variety) did not seem to be a major factor in the choice of polyamory.

The participants have created a different meaning for sex and intimacy than is common in the culture, and have found polyamory to be a crucible for growth. Some of the reasons given for monogamy seem to be met by polyamory. This study suggests that some of the factors for successful relationships include paying attention to each other, caring about the partner's needs and desires, finding ways to enjoy each other, focusing on what is working well, honesty, and flexibility in finding ways to relate that works for [all] partners.


The paper includes an overview of the (scant) academic work on modern non-monogamy, including some interesting stuff in both academic and popular literature not widely circulated. Example: "Weber [2002] estimated that half a million Americans are polyamorous (even if they have not heard the word)."

Read the whole thesis, either as HTML chapters or as a .PDF document.

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