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Polyamory returning to mainstream?

Bisexual unicorns … Early humans were swingers … One wife, many husbands … These news flashes and more in this week’s Sex in the Press.

The rise of the bisexual unicorn

‘Earlier this month, OkCupid became the first mainstream online-dating service to allow two partners to search for their next partner together. The move has generally been interpreted as OkCupid’s official inclusion of polyamory as an option for romance,’ according to ‘OkCupid’s polyamory push is about threesomes and unicorns but mostly data’.

The polyamory community has been critical because their lifestyle is about love – not just sex – between multiple partners. According to its proponents, polyamory is more about ‘consensual non-monogamy’ and ‘polyfidelity’ and less about ‘swinging’ and ‘relationship anarchy’.

And OkCupid’s new option is mostly about making it easier for committed different-sex couples to find a ‘bisexual unicorn’ — a bisexual woman who’s into having a threesome.

‘While there is nothing wrong with threesomes among consenting adults, that in itself, is not a polyamorous relationships,’ says one community pundit.

But OkCupid cares little about such definitions. They’re just following the numbers.

In the last five years, interest in non-monogamous relationships has skyrocketed. Currently, 24 per cent of OkCupid’s users are ‘seriously interested’ in group sex and 42 per cent would date someone in an open or polyamorous relationship.

We used to share EVERYTHING

‘Polyamory is not a euphemism for sleeping around. It’s just another way of organising life, love and who does the dishes,’ says one researcher quoted in ‘Equality and polyamory: why early humans weren’t The Flintstones’.

It seems that polyamory was much more part of our human pre-history than previously thought.

The traditional view is that humans always lived in nuclear families – that ‘men have always gone out to work or hunt, while women stayed at home to look after the house and the children.’

But hunting-and-gathering groups need much stronger networks than just their direct family unit. ‘In these societies community was everything. People survived through the support of their clan and therefore sharing and working within their clan was essential. This crossed over into sex as well.’

‘These overlapping, intersecting sexual relationships strengthened group cohesion and could offer a measure of security in an uncertain world […] Hunting and gathering enforced social equality. It was the only way people could survive.’

This lifestyle explains why some Amazonian tribes believe that babies come the culminated sperm of multiple males.

‘And then there is the example of the Mosua in China, a society in which people are highly promiscuous and where there is no shame associated with this. Mosua women have a high level of authority, with children being looked after by a child’s mother and her relatives. Fathers have no role in the upbringing of a child — in fact the Mosua have no word to express the concept of “father”.’

One wife, many husbands

‘One wife, many husbands. That’s the solution to China’s huge surplus of single men, says Xie Zuoshi, an economics professor,’ according to ‘Not enough women in China? Let men share a wife, an economist suggests’.

‘By 2020, China will have an estimated 30 million bachelors — called guanggun, or “bare branches”. Birth control policies that since 1979 have limited many families to one child, a cultural preference for boys and the widespread, if illegal, practice of sex-selective abortion have contributed to a gender imbalance that hovers around 117 boys born for every 100 girls.’

If we ignore the 30 million dead female foetuses, it’s the poorest of the guanggun who will suffer the most. ‘Unable to find a wife and have children, [they are] condemned to living and dying without offspring to support them in old age, as children are required to do by law in China.’

So wife sharing just makes economic sense, says Mr Xie. ‘A shortage raises the price of goods — in this case, women, he explained. Rich men can afford them, but poor men are priced out. This can be solved by having two men share the same woman.’

His ideas have earned Mr Xie much online abuse, which he shrugs off as misguided morality: ‘You are in favour of a couple made up of one man, one woman. But your morality will lead to 30 million guanggun with no hope of finding a wife. Is that your so-called morality?’

Stay tuned for the OkGuanggun dating app.


Any thoughts on love across multiple partners? Leave a comment below or join the discussion on Facebook. If you have any questions, visit our discussion board.

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