12

Gleb Tsipursky claims in his article "How Do You Live Happily Ever After When There’s A Love Triangle?":

Moreover, research on poly relationships show that people with consensual non-monogamous relationships are happier, especially with their sex lives, than those who are in traditional monogamous relationships, and communicate more openly.

Is this true?

  • Please use the Skeptics Chat for discussions not related to the question itself. – Sklivvz Jan 10 '15 at 15:40
  • 5
    How do you measure "happiness"? – Philipp May 5 '15 at 13:53
  • 12
    Observationally, for a poly relationship to work you have to have constant and very open communication. That is a major key to successful relationships in general and may provide a simple explanation for the phenomenon. – glenatron May 7 '15 at 10:18
  • 1
    I see the claim as "research shows" rather than as an explicit claim of happiness. For that purpose the definition of happy in the research is sufficient. – Brythan Jul 4 '17 at 13:03
  • 1
    Is the claim that polyamory causes happiness, or merely correlates with it? (e.g. may be because happier people would be more likely to enter into poly relationship in the first place) – user5341 Jul 5 '17 at 12:35
12

This is a tough question to answer, for two primary reasons:

  1. There isn’t a lot of literature on polyamory
  2. It’s important to define what “happiness” is (for example, one could define happiness as relationship satisfaction, ease at adjusting, levels of pleasure, etc.)

Some of the most current literature (Investigation of Consensually Nonmonogamous Relationships ) indicates that there are no significant differences between the ratings of global satisfaction, commitment, or passionate love between monogamous and consensually non-monogamous individuals, (individuals sometimes labeled as polyamorous)*.

* The article is not free (I got it through my institution’s online library and am not able to share it because of copyright infringement), but if you have access to it through some means, give it a read!

  • 5
    Rather than providing just a link, you should summarise what it says. – Andrew Grimm Jul 4 '17 at 11:02
  • 6
    Good answer but could you edit in some basics about the survey, like how many people were interviewed, and maybe some examples of the kinds of questions that were asked? It's okay ("fair use") to include a few short quotes from a copyrighted paper – user56reinstatemonica8 Jul 4 '17 at 15:34
  • Another big problem is causality vs correllation. It may very well be that people who are happier and have better sex lives; are more likely to start being poly. – user5341 Jul 5 '17 at 12:34
  • 4
    @user5341 it's unlikely to be quite that direct. There's likely to be a socioeconomic contributor, though. Also, the polyamorous community heavily pushes the idea of improved communication. Improved communication could very easily be a contributor to such things. – Ben Barden Jul 5 '17 at 14:03
  • @BenBarden - quite true – user5341 Jul 5 '17 at 14:08
-1

Point of clarity: the original claim made by the linked article is that research shows that people with consensual non-monogamous relationships are happier. That is the claim that is addressed here. The question of whether or not they are actually happier is technically vulnerable to a notability challenge, as we have yet to see anyone claim that specifically.


Okay, looking into things a bit, the claim in question is not meaningfully supported by the links it contains. The second link is talking about how willing people are to accept the idea of polyamory, and outside interest, rather than anything having to do with the happiness of people who are polyamorous. The first link is an article in psychology today that explores and unpacks the implications of the second link. The third link is to a list article on alternet that makes a number of vague claims based on "unpublished data" and "yet-to-be-released data", has some "supporting links" that actually link back to the top of the article, and, regardless, never makes any claim as strong as "people in poly relationships are happier". The fourth link is to a study based on a single focus group of polyamorous women that seemed to care a great deal about whether polyamory could be viably combined with feminism, and how this whole thing worked, anyway.

So... at the end of the day, this article is feeding us a load of BS. The various papers linked, or linked at one remove, do suggest that there are some advantages to polyamory (like a reduction of issues with cheating/jealousy) but are nowhere near enough to support the claims that the author is making, and that the author is implying that they support via links.

By all readily available indicators, the article pretends to have support that it does not, in fact, have. If there is research indicating that polyamorous people are happier, it's not presented here. Given the obvious slant of the author in question, the fact that it's not presented here suggests heavily that the author of the article doesn't have it. The article overstates its position pretty significantly, and if the claim is true, it seems likely only so by happenstance.

  • The research not existing doesn't make the statement false, only unsupported. – Erik Jul 10 '17 at 10:47
  • 2
    Even further, you haven't shown the research doesn't exist - just that the original article doesn't link to it. – Oddthinking Jul 10 '17 at 11:29
  • The third link does not, as you say, claim that poly people are happier. It does claim that poly people express greater relationship satisfaction. Not the same as happiness, but surely close enough to acknowledge as evidence. – Oddthinking Jul 10 '17 at 11:34
  • 3
    @Ben, we seem to be at cross-purposes. First, you argue that the paper links to red herring results. Let's accept that for a second. That shows the paper's argument is wrong, but leaves the question "Are polyamorous people happier?" unanswered. If that was what you concluded, I would be happy. However, you go further: "By all readily available indicators, it appears that the research does not, in fact, exist" Says who? "and thus that the statement is false" That is an 'argument from ignorance' fallacy. – Oddthinking Jul 10 '17 at 13:14
  • 1
    @Oddthinking point. Have expanded on final paragraph to make it more precise. Better? – Ben Barden Jul 10 '17 at 13:29

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .