Polyamory: A new kind of love relationships

Student thesis: Master thesis (including HD thesis)

  • Ann Louise Hansen
4. term, Psychology, Master (Master Programme)
Romantic love is something most people experience in their lives, but while most people generally try to stay within one relationships (monogamous, monoamory) a few people go alternative ways and practice threesomeness or multiple relationships (polygamy, polyamory). The polyamorous lifestyle differs from the monoamorous lifestyle by adding a larger number of situations and relationships within the same group of people and thus increasing the complexity. This complexity keeps most people away from the polyamorous lifestyle but for the right people it can give much greater flexibility, better chances of self-development and coping more easily with modern everyday life including relationships, careers, children and hobbies. The love between three or more persons is illustrated through the use of Robert J. Sternberg's(1998) theory of love which is made up of three main components. These are intimacy, passion and commitment. These three components can be illustrated with the shape of a triangle and people possess several triangles for different people, the real relationship, ideals and wishes for the love relationship. The matching of multiple partners' love triangles is a contributing factor to the constitution of the relationship, the maintainance and the developed of the relationship through time. The family- and group aspects of polyamory will also be included in this project, and group perspectives on communication, group structure and distribution of roles show that polyamorous relationships often have to start from scratch and develop their own norms, rules and roles for how to make such a relationship function because there is no prior developed standards or norms in the society that can help the process. The many debates, encounters and negotiations that characterize polyamorous relationships is also a very common characteristic of the general love relationships in the radical modernity we are living in right now. Anthony Giddens named this kind of relationship as pure because of it's independency from societal norms and traditions. These relationships are entered into because of their own sake and for as long as they give the individuels what they need and want. Polyamorous relationships are therefore excellent examples of the pure relationship, although some polyamorous people have tendencies to want traditional romantic relationships, which can for instance cause problems with jealousy. For psychologists and other health care professionals who come into contact with polyamory it may therefore be useful to get acquainted with the problems that these individuals sometimes find themselves in, in order to succesfully help them.
From a theoretical review of existing literature on Polyamory, my own participation in internetcommunities, conversations with polyamorous people and anecdotes, this is the first tentative attempt at exploring the lifestyle and the psychological characteristics, problems amd benefits to be won from polyamory. Future studies could possibly build on Sternberg's(1998) self-report questionnaires to clarify the love components polyamorous people feel and compare these with results from monoamorous people.
Publication date2 Aug 2010
Number of pages63
Publishing institutionAAU
ID: 34015811