January 13, 2021 by Justin Lehmiller
Interest in polyamory is on the rise. Google trends reveal that searches related to polyamory have increased significantly over the last decade. Although interest is climbing, myths and misconceptions about polyamory abound, including the idea that it’s all about sex and that people who are polyamorous “just can’t commit.” It’s time to set the record straight.
For this episode of the podcast, I interviewed Dr. Elisabeth Sheff, a sociologist and certified sexuality educator who teaches at the University of Tennessee in Chattanooga. Dr. Sheff’s research focuses on gender and sexual minority families, consensual non-monogamy, as well as kink and BDSM—and she is the foremost academic expert on polyamorous families with children. In fact, her Polyamorous Family Study which spans more than 2 decades is the only longitudinal study of poly families with children to date. She has authored multiple books on the subject, including The Polyamorists Next Door and Children in Polyamorous Families.
We cover a lot of ground in this episode, including:
- What does it mean to be “polyamorous?”
- How many people are in polyamorous relationships or are practicing other forms of consensual non-monogamy?
- What are the most common things that people get wrong about polyamory?
- How do children fare in families where the parents are polyamorous? What are some of the unique advantages and challenges they might face?
- Is it really true that jealousy doesn’t exist in polyamorous relationships?
- What is “compersion,” and is it possible to experience both compersion and jealousy at the same time?
- What is it like to be an expert witness on cases dealing with sexual and relationship diversity? (This is fascinating!!)
- How do you know if polyamory or consensual non-monogamy is right for you?
To learn more about Elisabeth’s work, check out her website here. Also, be sure to check out her books, The Polyamorists Next Door and Children in Polyamorous Families, and visit The Bonding Project to take Elisabeth’s scientifically-backed test of relationship styles.
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Credits: LEGIT Audio (Podcast editing) and Shutterstock/Florian (Music). Image created with Canva; photos and book covers used with guest permission.
Dr. Justin Lehmiller
Founder & Owner of Sex and Psychology
Dr. Justin Lehmiller is a social psychologist and Research Fellow at The Kinsey Institute. He runs the Sex and Psychology blog and podcast and is author of the popular book Tell Me What You Want. Dr. Lehmiller is an award-winning educator, and a prolific researcher who has published more than 50 academic works.