Are young people more open to polyamory? Or do we just like to cheat?

Are young people more open to polyamoryOr do we just like to cheat?

Are young people more open to polyamory? Or do we just like to cheat?

Hook-up culture, according to some, is muddying the waters of what it means to be in a monogamous relationship. But is that necessarily true?


"We live in the generation of not being in love, and not being together. But it sure feels like we're together, cause we're scared to see each other with somebody else."


That was nearly five years ago when Drake stated it. He was right back then, and the wisdom holds up today. The lyric is especially pertinent to our life and the lives of our peers who like to post Instagram photographs with sappy Tumblr captionsBecause our generation's defining romantic issue is simple: we all hate to be heartbroken, yet we're all certainly breaking someone else's heart in the process.” 


The media has labelled this generation of youth—the blasted millennials—as "polyamorous," meaning they have a strong desire to sleep with and/or date multiple people. Some individuals swear by it, claiming that it's all about "returning to human nature," a time before the idea of Western marriage came along and sucked us all into believing in true love and De Beers diamonds. Others believe it's merely an excuse to cheat, the result of a generation that’s too eager to fuck on the first date.


There aren't any concrete numbers (or really any data at all ) to support a correlation between the rise in poly relationships and the birth of the oh-so-despised millennial generation, but it's hard to argue that the popularity of apps like Tinder and Grindr aren't a sign of the times. 


What isn't totally accepted yet, is how to deal with the jealously that comes with having a rabid desire for multiple partners or how that carries over into an actual relationship.


VICE media group reached out to Jillian Deri, a sex sociologist, and professor at Simon Fraser University. Deri wrote Love's Refraction, a book on how polyamorous couples deal with jealously and learn to love their partner loving other people. They discussed why their peers seem compelled to cheat, and whether if whippersnappers like them are genuinely ready to enter into open relationships.



Here is a Q/A session between VICE and Jillian Deri.


1. VICE: How would you describe what polyamory is ?


Jillian DeriIt's important to know the difference between poly and a non-monogamous relationship. People who are poly tend to have emotional connections to more than one person, as opposed to people who are just dating aroundPeople who are generally monogamous in their hearts and are merely dating around till they settle down are not necessarily poly because poly people tend to want friendships, deep ties, and potential love with numerous people. 



2. Is there any evidence that shows there are people who are able to turn off their jealousy alarms off and have open relationships without the conflicting emotions we associate with monogamy?


Definitely, there are a number of people who have done so, but we don't have any studies to really back it up. In my [research], jealousy can range from a slight tinge of uneasiness to full-on emotional distress. The theory that I focused on was a term called "compersion," a word coined by polyamorous people to mean the opposite of jealousy. It's fascinating that there is no official word for this in the English dictionary as the only potential outcome that we know of in the Western society of you being with somebody else is jealous.


A simple way to understand it is that when your sibling or your parent achieves great success or does really well, you feel happy for them, unless you are jealous! That's what compersion is. I studied how poly individuals make compersion possible in relationships.


3. This idea of compersion: Is it something that is learned or are some people more prone to have less jealous personalities?


Who knows? It could be based upon individual relationships and how secure you feel. You might be with somebody who makes you fiery with jealousy, and another person who just makes you feel secure. It's usually about the power dynamic and where the relationship is going or if there's room for growth. There's also a range of how people feel jealousysome people can work through it and feel compersion more than they were accustomed toAt the start of a relationship or at the end of relationship, we tend to be more(envious)jealous because we wonder how the other person feels or if they've lost interest.


4. A lot of talk around people my age is that monogamy is unnatural because it's so difficult to maintain. It almost takes a higher level of commitment and self-awareness to stay with one person. Would you say being non-monogamous is closer to human nature?


That is a fascinating question. I believe it’s very individual. When we talk about monogamy, we often make a lot of assumptions about the boundary of that. You know, things like: you'll never fantasize about anyone else, never glance at anybody else, and you'll never be attracted to anyone other than your partner. I don't think that monogamous relationships work like thatwhere one person fills all those categories.


What's more natural? I'm not sure; it wouldn't be accurate to say we aren't socialized from birth. But, if you come from a strict religious family or background, it can change what your truth is for romance and sex. There are no universal laws of nature or nurture that applto everyone. With being stated, the fact that the majority of humanity has not been monogamous, and even in the animal kingdom we see the same thing, makes me inclined to think that we're not meant to be exclusively monogamous.



5. Do you find that those who attempt to transition to or try poly/open relationships feel that their relationships are healthier because cheating is no longer a huge issue?


I think the dialogue of exactly what you're feeling and where those boundaries are is useful for any relationship. If an attraction is taboo, it's only going to get bigger. If you can say or admit to and talk about it, you can actually neutralize that.A lot of monogamous relationships end because somebody gets attracted to somebody else and they can't find a way to deal with it, so they grow resentful. Eventually, the individual with whom they are tied to becomes the issue. 


People think that if you look elsewhere [in monogamy], it represents your lack of love and affection for that person. That's dangerous, because it can sabotage a real connection and bond. I'd think you'd be less tempted to cheat if you couldIn poly, cheating is breaking a rule, it's not necessarily sexual exclusivity.


6. Almost everybody I know that's tried an open relationship has failed because somebody starts getting jealous of how many people their partner is hooking up with compared to them. Is that a common trend in poly relationships?


Not necessarily; it’s something that requires planning and maturity. One partner may want three dates per week, while the other may just want one per month. When you set a default, it frequently generates more problems because they feel compelled to proceed at a pace that is either too slow or too quick for one person. There can be a difference as long as both people are pleased with.


Many issues  can arise in poly relationshipbut I think time and jealousy are the hardest things poly people deal with. It takes a lot of time: not only the dates, but the communication.

 7. Do you think that aspect is what scares people away from trying to be in an open relationship?


Certainly. It takes more time and planning, which can be stressful, but that's not new territory. There are numerous advantages. It relieves a lot of the stress that comes with worrying about serial monogamy and labels, and it satisfies that curiosity that millennials, as you mentioned, tend to have.It's an option or  viable alternative that works, especially in a culture with so many options, so much availability, so much Tindering. It can be really hard to focus, and we like to be able to have control.





Image Source: Google 


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