Faculty of Social and Human Sciences (UNL) Conference System, 1st Non-Monogamies and Contemporary Intimacies Conference

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Polyamory. Loving More than One. A biographical portrait of non-monogamous relationship cultures
Sina Muscarina

##manager.scheduler.building##: B Tower
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Date: 2015-09-26 11:30 AM – 01:00 PM
Last modified: 2015-09-24


Polyamory. Loving More than One

A biographical portrait of non-monogamous relationship cultures

In the mainstream of academic Psychology, the concept of the monogamous relationship between two people is rarely called into question. The work at hand will fill a gap in this respect and should be understood as a contribution toward establishing academic openness to the concerns of polyamorous human beings.

Interviews were conducted over Skype as the method of compiling data and their phenomenological premises as well as those of interaction and communication theories were reconstructed according to the narrative data analysis of Schütze (1983). The biographies of one woman and one man stand in the forefront.

It holds true for both interview partners that they oriented themselves toward a monogamous relationship model and processed the same during biographically significant phases of their early adulthoods. In both cases – more noticeably in the man’s than the woman’s – the biographical representation oriented itself on an emotional transformation process with regard to the monogamous/polyamorous life (theme), with relatively little account taken of external criteria such as people or chronological data in contrast.

The interviews are strongly distinguished by depictions of polyamory based on their own theories whereby creating theories on polyamory can be comparable to a certain processing phase and could definitely constitute the nucleus of a typical phase in polyamorous biographies – as a specific stage in the processing or incorporation of a life theme. It deals with a sort of auto-therapeutic narrative of self-formation in the sense of Illouz with an upward trending curve or with seeing an intentionally experienced scheme of self- enhancement as a sort of therapeutic project in and of itself.

Another distinctive track for interpreting polyamorous forms of life is a psychological technique called „amor fati“, which means the retrospective affirmation of an originally difficult fate. Whether this motive, which also appears here under the cover of ideas of karma, is widespread in the polyamorous community and what function it has would be interesting for further research.

In both interviews it becomes clear that some of the difficulties accompanying the polyamorous life can be defused by communities living in a like-minded way. Collectivizing his own experience enables the man to transition from a deficient and very inwardly referential self-perception to one that is positive and progressive – one that can also gain membership in a larger socio-political picture.

Fundamentally, the biographies are represented as success stories. They develop in the sense of emancipation from a social embedding that is experienced as damaging to a positively perceived social organization. Polyamory reveals itself prospectively as a fragile and suspenseful project constituting a process between success and hope.