Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


Non-monogamous relationships, Monogamous relationships, Adultery, Polyamory, Infidelity


This research examined the practice of polyamory as "ethical nonmonogamy" within the United States. Long-term dyadic monogamy (usually between a man and woman, and sanctioned through marriage) is the hegemonic index for how most Americans continue to experience and authenticate relationships. However, patterns of frequent infidelity and frequent divorce undermine the rectitude of monogamy's core institution. This study sought to determine whether polyamory could provide a viable alternative to traditional models of long-term dyadic monogamy. It also sought to determine the capacity of poly phenomenon to foster intrapsychic growth and development, and provide psychic repair in spite of (and because of) inimical societal conditions still hostile towards nonnormative practices and identities. The following questions guided the research: (a) Do polyamorous relationships fare differently than dyadic relationships in terms of overall satisfaction and longevity of emotional bondedness? (b) Are children in polyamorous families acquiring the security and attention needed for healthy psychosocial development? (c) Can engagement in polyamory be considered an adaptive coping response to shifting sociocultural frameworks, patterns of infidelity, and divorce? A theoretical research design employing attachment theory and Freudian concepts was utilized for this study; it anchored analysis of the phenomenon in discourses of similarity and difference for the purposes of comparison, and enabled the researcher to consider the breath of the phenomenon in greater detail.




3, 64 p. Thesis (M.S.W.)-Smith College School for Social Work, Northampton, Mass., 2010. Includes bibliographical references (p. 62-64)