The last decades, with their successive sexual revolutions and the conquest of rights by women and the LGTBI community have been changing the way in which our society understands love and sexuality. And, today, perhaps one of the realities that is giving more to talk about is that of polyamory.
This term refers to non-monogamous relationships in which there is an express and unequivocal consent of all those involved and an ethical and affective responsibility between them. It is clear that this is a shocking option in a society that has traditionally been explicitly monogamous (which does not mean that other realities are new, but that they have been traditionally silenced), to the point where many people even doubt that it is possible to establish relationships under these parameters.
Practice and theory
The main thing to note is that psychology and the other sciences that study issues that concern human relationships (such as sociology) can give general and theoretical guidelines on this issue, but cannot refute reality in any way.
By this, we mean that it is not up to these disciplines to dictate whether something is possible or not; As long as there are people who genuinely establish these relationships, as in fact it happens (more and more associations or public figures have communicated experiences in this regard), we must understand that it is something possible.
That said, the truth is that there are many psychologists, psychiatrists, anthropologists and others who have proposed that non-monogamous relationships are not only possible, but in fact they would be frequent in nature . Some, like David Barash or Judith Eve Lipton in their joint book The Myth of Monogamy argue that in nature sexual exclusivity is almost non-existent, while social monogamy (the case of many birds and, to a large extent, humans) it is relatively rare.
The Jealousy Problem
From a psychological point of view, perhaps the most complex point for a polyamorous relationship is the emotion known as ‘jealousy’. In them, as scholars such as Marvin Harris, proponent of the theory of cultural materialism, point out, numerous factors intervene: a proposed biological origin (by controlling the promiscuity of the female partner, the males of a certain species have a greater chance of being the ones who intervene). reproduce with it and that their genome is perpetuated), a component of the normativity of the social group and influences of the biography and the emotional state of the individual (feeling of abandonment, low self-esteem …).
All of this does not imply that today the ‘functions’ that jealousy might have once continue to be fulfilled (the selection of partners and the reproduction of one’s own lineage in people works in a very different way from what happens in other species; in terms of social normativity, their codes have been transformed in parallel to the human species). In fact, Harris argues that phenomena such as polygamy, polyamory or infidelities also have a biological purpose (to diversify the genetics of the offspring) and social in origin.
However, what is known is that there are techniques to control the intensity, scope and response to jealousy . In fact, it is common in strategies such as couples therapy to address this issue, often successfully, as part of couples therapy or psychotherapy treatments.