"Men Like Monogamy Less Than Women, Right? Think Again"
The leaders and influencers of the modern polyamory movement — its speakers, book authors, bloggers, podcasters, media spokespeople, conference creators, and public faces — continue to be overwhelmingly women. It's been that way since the movement's beginnings in the mid-1980s. But what about the people on the ground, the ordinary folks who explore consensual non-monogamy or think they might like to?
The conventional wisdom is that men want multiple mates more than women do. But a study indicates (again) that when it comes to negotiated, honest open relationships, women are the ones out front. An article about it appeared this morning in Ozy ("fresh stories and bold ideas").
Men Like Monogamy Less Than Women, Right? Think Again
By Carly Stern
The approach apparently worked because they’re still together. Rader, founder and CEO of the sexual wellness company Juicebox, and Karly are among the 4 to 5 percent of Americans who researchers estimate practice polyamory, where partners agree to have sexual or romantic relationships with multiple partners. Classic assumptions about male sexual appetites would lead one to assume men are more likely to be in such arrangements. But there’s scarce research specifically on preferences within the poly community — and what’s out there challenges those notions. A recent study found that:
Women were significantly more comfortable with the idea of nonmonogamy than men.
That’s according to a 2018 working paper [link] by a researcher [Anne-Laure Le Cunff] at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience at King’s College London. The study surveyed 509 people around the world who self-identified as either polyamorous, monoamorous or ambiamorous (those willing to be in either monogamous or polyamorous relationships) about their attitudes toward exclusivity. In the study, women scored higher than men for sexual and romantic openness scores — both for themselves and for their partners. Of the respondents, 55 percent identified as LGBTQ, 38 percent as straight and 7 percent were unsure.
While this finding goes against conventional wisdom, it’s not totally out of the blue. Attributes traditionally associated with women often prove to be essential assets in nonmonogamous situations. For one, there’s additional dialogue and negotiation happening in poly relationships — and communication historically has been characterized as a female strength, says Madison McCullough, a social worker and therapist who focuses on LGBTQ communities. More people involved in a relationship means more to balance, especially for those with children and growing families, McCullough says. ...
Another contributor: jealousy. ... Possessiveness over a romantic partner tends to be socially conditioned among heteronormative men, in Rader’s eyes. ...
To be sure, this research is far from conclusive. For one, it oversampled LGBTQ participants: A 2017 Gallup survey estimated that about 4.5 percent of Americans don’t identify as straight, as opposed to 55 percent of survey respondents. There’s significant overlap between the queer and poly community, Rader notes. ...
There is also data to suggest men do more commonly seek out multiple partners. A 2016 YouGov survey found that men were 13 percent less likely to be in a “completely monogamous” relationship than women and 25 percent less likely to say their ideal relationship was totally one-on-one.
But there’s a difference between polyamory and old-fashioned cheating. A study last year [link] using data from the 2012 National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior found that while 12 percent of people were in nonmonogamous relationships, only a third of those were consensually open relationships. ...
The whole article (July 12, 2019).
Some related reading:
● "Poly is a matriarchy", explains Page Turner in her tips for clueless newbie men (2016).
● The surprisingly woman-friendly roots of modern polyamory, by Libby Copeland in Slate (2012).
● Leanna Wolfe's historical stages of polyamory, gender-related, in a talk at last spring's Rocky Mountain Poly Living con.