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Demographic Comparison of American Individuals in Polyamorous and

Monogamous Relationships

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DOI: 10.1080/00224499.2018.1474333

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Demographic Comparison of American Individuals in Polyamorous and Monogamous Relationships

Rhonda N. Balzarini, Christoffer Dharma, Taylor Kohut, Bjarne M. Holmes, Lorne Campbell, Justin J. Lehmiller & Jennifer J. Harman

To cite this article: Rhonda N. Balzarini, Christoffer Dharma, Taylor Kohut, Bjarne M. Holmes, Lorne Campbell, Justin J. Lehmiller & Jennifer J. Harman (2018): Demographic Comparison of American Individuals in Polyamorous and Monogamous Relationships, The Journal of Sex Research, DOI: 10.1080/00224499.2018.1474333

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Demographic Comparison of American Individuals in Polyamorous and Monogamous Relationships

Rhonda N. Balzarini, Christoffer Dharma, and Taylor Kohut Department of Psychology, University of Western Ontario

Bjarne M. Holmes Department of Psychology, Champlain College

Lorne Campbell Department of Psychology, University of Western Ontario

Justin J. Lehmiller The Kinsey Institute, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN

Jennifer J. Harman Department of Psychology, Colorado State University

Research on polyamorous relationships has increased substantially over the past decade. This work has documented how polyamory is practiced and why individuals might pursue such arrangements. However, there is a lack of a systematic investigation of who is in polyamorous relationships and how they might differ from individuals in monogamous relationships. The present study is one of the first to address this by comparing the demographic backgrounds of individuals in polyamorous (N = 2,428) and monogamous (N = 539) relationships in the United States. Compared to participants in monogamous relationships, those in polyamorous relation- ships were more likely to report minority sexual identities. Despite similar age distributions, individuals in polyamorous relationships were more likely to report being in a civil union, being divorced, and earning less than $40,000 per year compared to individuals in monogamous relationships. People in polyamorous relationships were also more likely to select “other” options for most demographic characteristics, suggesting that they tend to choose less tradi- tional response options in general. The current research highlights several demographic differ- ences that need to be considered and potentially controlled for in future comparisons of polyamorous and monogamous relationships.

In a monogamous relationship, it is generally not acceptable to seek out sexual interactions or emotional intimacy with any person other than one’s partner (see Jonason & Balzarini, 2016). In contrast, polyamory refers to the practice or accep- tance of having multiple emotionally close relationships that may or may not be sexual in nature, with the consent of everyone involved (Barker & Langdridge, 2010). While monogamous relationships remain the norm in North America, polyamory is on the rise. Formally recognized as a form of relationship in the 1990s (World Heritage Encyclopedia, 2016), polyamory is receiving an increasing amount of attention in popular culture and society at large.

Growing public interest regarding polyamory (Plummer, 1995) is reflected not just in increased coverage in the popular press (e.g., magazines and television programs) (see Barker & Langdridge, 2010) but also in significantly increased numbers of online searches for polyamory-related material between 2006 and 2015 (Moors, 2016).

Research on polyamory has addressed how this relation- ship style has the potential to prevent psychological suffoca- tion of a single partner by distributing the needs that people expect from their relationships across many partners (Conley & Moors, 2014; Finkel, Hui, Carswell, & Larson, 2014). Research has also examined the robust and pervasive stigma surrounding this practice (e.g., Conley, Moors, Matsick, & Ziegler, 2013; Moors, Matsick, Ziegler, Rubin, & Conley, 2013) and assessed how relationships and experiences of stigma differ among primary and secondary partners in poly- amorous relationships (Balzarini et al., 2017). Although these

Correspondence should be addressed to Rhonda N. Balzarini, University of Western Ontario, Social Science Centre, Department of Psychology Main Office, Room 7418, London, Ontario, N6A 5C2 Canada. E-mail: rbalzari@uwo.ca

THE JOURNAL OF SEX RESEARCH, 00(00), 1–14, 2018 Copyright © The Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality ISSN: 0022-4499 print/1559-8519 online DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/00224499.2018.1474333

 

 

areas of inquiry are important, a significant antecedent ques- tion has been overlooked: Are there demographic differences between those who are in polyamorous relationships and those who are in monogamous relationships?

Considerable research attention has been given to con- sensual nonmonogamy (CNM) more broadly, a term which encompasses polyamory and several distinctly different practices, such as swinging and open relationships. Recent research efforts have examined the potential benefits and costs associated with CNM relationships and considered how they may be similar to or different from monogamous relationships (Conley, Ziegler, Moors, Matsick, & Valentine, 2012; Moors, Matsick, & Schechinger, 2017; Ziegler, Matsick, Moors, Rubin, & Conley, 2014). Research also has assessed the demographic differences among those who are currently in CNM and monogamous relationships (Cox, 2016; Rubin, Moors, Matsick, Ziegler, & Conley, 2014) and among those who have practiced CNM and monogamous relationships (Haurpert et al., 2017). To date, however, most of what we know about differences between individuals in these relationships is based on studies exam- ining CNM relationships more broadly, rather than polya- morous relationships specifically.

Our research is important for several reasons. First, it pro- vides much-needed descriptive information about polyamorous relationships in particular (e.g., information about political affiliation, education, religious affiliation), which allows us to test several popular assumptions about persons in these relation- ships, such as the idea that polyamorists are more likely to be White, bisexual, and politically liberal than the rest of the population. Second, this research can help us to better under- stand why some people are more likely than others to practice polyamory. Third, this study offers potential insights into why some people may be more successful or satisfied with poly- amorous relationships than monogamous relationships. Fourth, this work can help us identify potential covariates to consider in future research, which may be important when comparing indi- viduals in polyamorous relationships to those in monogamous relationships (e.g., if polyamorous and monogamous indivi- duals differ in their sexual orientation, controlling for the stigma experienced as a result of one’s sexual orientation would be important when assessing stigma toward the relationship orien- tation specifically). Finally, if we identify differences or inequal- ities experienced by those in polyamorous or monogamous relationships, these findings could have implications for therapy or treatment of persons in these relationships. Specifically, knowledge of the stigmas or inequalities faced by people in polyamorous relationships and an understanding of the inter- sectionality between polyamory and other identities could potentially aid clinicians when working with these clients.

Demographic Comparisons Among CNM and Monogamous Samples

Using data from two large online samples, Rubin and colleagues (2014) examined the extent to which individuals

in varying demographic groups (gender, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, and age) were over- or underrepresented in CNM and monogamous relationships. No significant differences were found between gender, race, sexual orientation, and age among individuals in monogamous and CNM relationships (Rubin et al., 2014). This research suggested that the demo- graphic backgrounds of individuals in CNM relationships (including polyamory, as well as swinging and open relation- ships) were similar to those in monogamous relationships.

Loving More (LM)—a polyamory support and advocacy organization—administered a survey to more than 4,000 CNM participants and compared the results with the 2010–2014 General Social Survey (GSS; a national repre- sentative sample of U.S. residents). The study was designed to explore potential demographic differences among indivi- duals who self-identified as practicing or as open to practi- cing some form of CNM relationship relative to the general U.S. population (Cox, 2016). CNM individuals indicated that they had slightly more adults living in their household (CNM 78.9% of persons in household were adults; GSS 77.5% of the total household were adults) but were less likely to have children (CNM 19.3%; GSS 23.4%) (D. Cox, personal communication, October 2017). CNM indi- viduals were more likely to have had sexual partners of both sexes (46.3% females, 18.8% males) and were better edu- cated (62.4% completed a bachelor’s degree or higher) than the general population (28.3%) (Cox, 2017; Cox, Fleckenstein, & Bergstrand, 2013). The LM survey offers helpful insights into the potential demographic differences of individuals who identify as CNM and monogamous, but it was limited in scope and did not include critical demo- graphic questions (e.g., sexual orientation identity, ethnicity, employment information, income, marital status, religious affiliation, political affiliation) or distinguish among types of CNM (e.g., swinging, open, or polyamory).

Haupert et al., (2017) assessed the prevalence of CNM (including but not limited to polyamory) using two separate Census-based samples of single adults in the United States (Study 1: N = 3,905; Study 2: N = 4,813). This research found that approximately 21% to 22% of individuals from the United States have engaged in a CNM relationship at some point in their lives. The proportion of people who reported having engaged in a CNM relationship did not differ by age, education level, income, religion, geographic region, political affiliation, or race, but it did vary by gender and sexual orientation. Men (compared to women) and people who identified as gay, lesbian, or bisexual (compared to those who identified as heterosexual) were more likely to report previous participation in a CNM relationship (Haupert et al., 2017).

Although these studies provide some insight into partici- pation or identification with CNM, they offer little insight into those who have been involved in polyamorous relation- ships specifically. It is possible that results would diverge among various CNM relationship subtypes, given other differences documented among these groups. Research sug- gests that CNM individuals favor their own specific

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relationship orientation and stigmatize other relationship orientations (see Balzarini, Shumlich, Kohut, & Campbell, 2018). Swingers and polyamorous individuals, for example, are often critical of each other (Frank & DeLamater, 2010). Polyamorists critique swingers’ supposed focus on recrea- tional sex and the stereotypically gendered nature of swing- ing (Barker & Langdridge, 2010; Frank & DeLamater, 2010). Swingers criticize the purported “conservative” atti- tudes that polyamorists have about sex and polyamorists’ view that love can occur outside of a couple (Barker & Langdridge, 2010; Frank & DeLamater, 2010). In a similar vein, Ritchie (2010) reviewed news reports on polyamory and found that interviewees who were quoted in these stories presented polyamory as more meaningful than swinging because polyamory was based on love rather than casual sex.

Demographic Comparisons Among Polyamorous Samples

Noël (2006) conducted a detailed content analysis of 12 polyamory relationship guides (i.e., self-help books written for the polyamory community) and critiqued these guides in terms of their consideration of diversity. She found that the authors of these books presumed that their polyamorous audience consisted of homogenously White, educated, mid- dle-class, able-bodied citizens of the United States (Noël, 2006; Wheeler, 2011). Other qualitative research by Sheff and colleagues corroborates some of these assumptions by indicating that individuals who participate in polyamorous relationships are demographically homogenous with respect to race, profession, and education (Sheff, 2005; Sheff & Hammers, 2011).

The conclusions drawn by critics of these relationship guides are based on interpreted material or assumptions rather than empirical research. One cannot rule out whether the lack of diversity found had to do with general base rates in these factors (e.g., 77% percent of Americans are White; Census Bureau, 2016), sampling strategies, or actual differences in distributions of demographic variables among those who iden- tify as polyamorous (e.g., if monogamists had been studied, would they also appear homogenous on these traits, or would they differ from polyamorists?). Further, the number of parti- cipants in these studies was small, with Sheff and Hammers (2011) reporting results for 81 polyamorous participants and Sheff (2005) reporting results for 40 polyamorous participants. Qualitative research is a proper approach to some, but not all, research questions. When trying to acquire estimates of demo- graphics for a population, a larger sample should be obtained and quantitative data are ideal.

THE CURRENT STUDY

The current research aimed to fill a gap in the literature by critically examining demographic differences between individuals who are currently in polyamorous and monoga- mous relationships from two samples collected in the United

States. Demographic differences in terms of age, sexual orientation, gender identity, education, religious affiliation, political affiliation, parental demographics, ethnicity, and household-related variables (e.g., number of children and divorces) were assessed. We did not specify hypotheses for each of these variables; instead, we sought to explore whether differences or similarities emerge across these groups with the goal of informing future research in this area.

METHOD

Participants

Our study used data from two large online convenience samples examining individuals in polyamorous (N = 3,530) and monogamous relationships (N = 1,358). One sample came from a study in which we told participants we were interested in investigating the perceptions of partners among individuals in polyamorous relationships; the other came from a study in which we told participants we were inter- ested in the perceptions of partners among individuals in monogamous relationships. Participants for both studies were recruited online from various Internet forums; dating sites; lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) groups; and Facebook group pages. Many of these Web sites and groups were specifically geared toward either a polyamorous or monogamous audience, as were the advertisements for recruitment. Recruitment materials spe- cified that eligibility required that participants be in a poly- amorous or monogamous relationship. Participants in polyamorous relationships were asked to indicate whether each partner they listed was aware of and had consented to the participant having other partner(s) (asked separately for each partner). Only participants whose partners were aware of and consented to their other partners were included in the current study in order to provide a clear delineation between polyamory and infidelity. Because some response options applied only to participants in the United States (e.g., poli- tical affiliation, income in U.S. dollars), we restricted our analyses to those living in the United States, which resulted in a sample of n = 2,428 individuals in a polyamorous relationship, and n = 539 individuals in a monogamous relationship. The number of excluded participants from out- side the Unted States is presented in the appendix.

Measures

Most of the demographic items were modified versions of those used successfully in the GSS (Smith, Marsden, Hout, & Kim, 2015) and LM survey (Cox et al., 2013); a few were developed by the researchers where indicated.

Age. Participants were asked to indicate their age in years.

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Gender identity. Participants reported their current gender identity. The four response options were (a) Male, (b) Female, (c) Transgender, and (d) Other.

Sexual orientation. Participants identified their current sexual orientation in terms of (a) Heterosexual, (b) Lesbian/gay, (c) Bisexual, (d) Pansexual, and (e) Other.

Education. Participants reported their highest level of education with six response choices: (a) Some high school, (b) High school diploma/GED, (c) Vocational training certificate, (d) Associate’s degree, (e) Bachelor’s degree, and (f) Master’s or doctoral degree. They also were asked to report the highest education level from both parents using identical response choices. When parents’ education differed, respondents selected the highest level of education that applied for each parent. Because there were very few participants who did not finish high school (n = 12 polyamorous and 3 monogamous participants), we categorized education into three groups: High school or less, Associate’s degree/vocational training, and Bachelor’s degree or higher.

Religious affiliation. Religious affiliation was assessed using eight response choices: (a) Agnostic, (b) Atheist, (c) Buddhist, (d) Christian, (e) Hindu, (f) Jewish, (g) Muslim, or (h) Other. Participants were also asked to report the religious affiliation of both parents using identical response choices, and to select all affiliations that applied.

Political affiliation. Political affiliation was assessed using six response choices: (a) Democrat, (b) Republican, (c) Independent, (d) Libertarian and Green Party, (e) Unaffiliated, or (f) “Other.” They were also asked to report the political affiliation of their parents using identical response choices.

Ethnicity. Participants were asked to identify their ethnicity from eight response choices and to select all that applied: (a) Asian/Asian American, (b) African/African American, (c) Hispanic, (d) Native American/Native Alaskan, (e) Pacific Islander, (f) White (non-Hispanic), (g) biracial/multiracial, and/or (h) “Other.” Because some ethnicity categories had a very small number of participants, we created three mutually exclusive categories: White only, Multiethnic, and Non-White. Multiethnic included all participants who identified with more than one of the available ethnic categories (including multiethnic).

Income. Participants were asked to report their annual income in U.S. dollars and were provided eight choices, ranging incrementally from Less than $20,000 to $150,000 and higher.

Profession/work. Current profession was assessed using 11 options: (a) Student, (b) Education (nonstudent), (c) Military, government/civil service, (d) Banking/finance,

(e) Computers/information technology, (f) Marketing, (g) Retail/sales, (h) Service, health care, (i) Homemaker or stay-at-home parent, (j) Unemployed, or (k) “Other.”

Marital status. Participants indicated their marital status using one or more of the five response options: (a) Currently married, (b) Widowed, (c) Divorced, (d) Separated, or (e) Never been married. Participants who had been divorced were asked to indicate how many divorces they had had (completed or in progress).

Household members and children. Participants reported the number of people living in their household for three days a week or more (including the participant). Because polyamorous relationships can consist of numerous people who may not spend their entire week in one dwelling, we defined household members as those who live together for three days a week or more. Participants also were asked to indicate how many children they had from 0 to 5+, and how many children lived with them full time.

Procedure

Prospective participants were provided a link that redirected them to a secure survey hosted on Qualtrics. The first page of the survey requested informed consent, which was received from each participant digitally. Participants were also asked to confirm their eligibility by indicating that they were either polyamorous or monogamous and currently in a committed relationship or dating. Those who met the eligibility require- ments were asked to indicate the number of romantic or dating partners with whom they were currently involved. Only mono- gamous participants who reported one current partner and polyamorous participants who reported at least two concurrent partners were retained for analyses. Participants in polyamorous and monogamous relationships answered identical question- naires that included demographic questions about themselves and their partners, and additional questions about their relation- ship experiences with their partners (e.g., jealousy, communica- tion, satisfaction). Participation in the study was voluntary; no compensation was provided. Completion of the survey could be done at participants’ convenience (median time = 59 minutes). Only the demographic assessments were used in the present study. This research was conducted in accordance with the ethical guidelines of the American Psychological Association. The materials and procedure for data collection were approved by our institutions’ ethics research boards.

Analytic Strategy

Because the polyamorous sample was much larger than the monogamous sample, we conducted a power analysis before we registered and ran our analyses with unequal allocation (N2/N1 = 4) to resemble the ratio of eligible participants in the data set. A minimum of 1,335 and 339 individuals in each group, respectively, was required to

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obtain a power of .95, assuming a small effect size (d = 0.2) (power estimated using G-Power 3.1; Faul, Erdfelder, Buchner, & Lang, 2009). This power analysis ensured that the current study had sufficient participants to make demo- graphic comparisons across various categories.

To answer our primary research question concerning the demographic differences between participants in polyamor- ous and monogamous relationships, Pearson χ2 tests for cross-tabulations (or Fisher’s exact test where appropriate) were used for all categorical comparisons. When Fisher’s exact test was required for a table with a large number of categories, p values were simulated using Monte Carlo methods (Patefield, 1981). When chi-square tests detected an overall significant difference, post hoc analyses com- paring participants in polyamorous and monogamous rela- tionships were conducted for each category option. Cramer’s Vs are presented to illustrate the strength of the difference when chi-square tests were applied; values ran- ging from 0.1 to 0.2 are considered weak associations, 0.2 to 0.3 are considered moderate, 0.3 to 0.4 are considered strong; and above 0.5 are considered redundant (Cohen, 1988). A chi-square test was used to compare the distribu- tion of sexual orientation identities within different gender identities, separated between polyamorous and monoga- mous participants. An independent t test also was used to compare the mean ages between the two groups. Cohen’s d is presented to illustrate the magnitude of the differences, with 0.2 considered a small effect size, 0.5 a medium effect size, and 0.8 a large effect size. The sig- nificance level for all tests was kept at the standard .05 level rather than adjusting for multiple comparisons. Because of the exploratory nature of these analyses, we were willing to accept the inflated experimentwise Type 1 error (Rothman, 1990). All analyses were conducted using R 3.3.1 (R Core Team, 2016). The rationale and the analytic plan for the demographic comparisons were pre- registered to the Open Science Framework (OSF) after the data were collected, but prior to conducting the analyses, and can be viewed at https://osf.io/76p7p/.

RESULTS

A total of 539 monogamous and 2,428 polyamorous participants completed the survey and were eligible for the current analyses (see Table 1 for their demographic distribu- tion and for total sample characteristics). Most participants self-identified as White females between 25 and 44 years old (Mage = 34.97) with a bachelor’s degree or higher, a Democratic- or Independent-leaning political affiliation, and reported an annual income of less than $60,000.

Age

Overall, there was no significant difference in the mean age of participants in monogamous (M = 34.76) and

polyamorous relationships (M = 35.01) (t = 0.45; p = .665; Cohen’s d = .02).

Gender Identity

There was a significant difference in the distribution of gender identity between participants in monogamous and polyamorous relationships (χ2 = 28.4, p < .001; Cramer’s V = .10). Although most participants in both samples identi- fied as female, more participants in monogamous relationships indicated that their gender was female (polyamorous, 57.8%; monogamous, 63.3%; p = .020). Furthermore, compared to participants in monogamous relationships, a higher proportion of participants in polyamorous relationships selected the “other” (polyamorous, 5.3%; monogamous, 0.74%; p < .001) or transgender identity options (polyamor- ous, 2.1%; monogamous, 0.56%; p < .001). Similar propor- tions of participants in polyamorous and monogamous relationships identified their gender as male (polyamorous, 34.8%; monogamous, 35.4%; p = .802). For both groups, the most common open-ended responses for the gender ques- tion included “genderqueer” (n = 51), “genderfluid/non-bin- ary” (n = 13), “FTM/MTF/transwoman/transman” (n = 7), and “agender” (n = 4).

Sexual Orientation

There was a significant difference in the distribution of sexual orientation responses selected by participants in mono- gamous and polyamorous relationships (χ2 = 281.96, p < .001; Cramer’s V = .31). The most commonly reported sexual orientation among participants in monogamous rela- tionships was heterosexual, which was much lower among participants in polyamorous relationships (monogamous, 74.0%; polyamorous, 36.4%; p < .001). By contrast, partici- pants in polyamorous relationships were more likely to iden- tify as bisexual (polyamorous, 32.5%; monogamous, 13.5%; p < .001), pansexual (polyamorous, 18.0%; monogamous, 3.5%; p < .001), or as another orientation not listed (poly- amorous, 9.2%; monogamous, 3.2%; p < .001). However, participants in polyamorous and monogamous relationships did not differ in their rate of selecting “gay/lesbian” (poly- amorous, 3.9%; monogamous, 5.8%; p = .059). For both groups, common “other” responses included “hetero-flexible” (n = 51), “queer” (n = 114), “bicurious”/“curious” (n = 16), and “asexual” (n = 7).

Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

The distribution of participants’ gender identity and sex- ual orientation stratified by their relationship orientation (polyamorous versus monogamous) is presented in Table 2. There is an overall significant difference in the distribution of sexual orientation responses by gender iden- tities within individuals in polyamorous relationships (χ2 = 671.81, p < .001; Cramer’s V = .30) and within individuals in monogamous relationships (χ2 = 86.61,

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Table 1. Demographic Distribution of Participants

Demographics Polyamorous (n = 2,428)

Monogamous (n = 539)

Total (n = 2,967) p Valuea χ2/t Statistics Cramer’s V/ Cohen’s db

Age (mean) 35.01 34.76 34.97 .665 0.45 .02 Gender identity (n = 2,426) (n = 539) < .001 28.42 .10 Male 844 (34.8) 191 (35.4) 1,035 (34.9) .803 Female 1,403 (57.8) 341 (63.3) 1,744 (58.8) .020 Transgender 51 (2.1) 3 (0.56) 54 (1.8) .012 Other 128 (5.3) 4 (0.7) 132 (4.5) < .001

Sexual orientation (n = 2,422) (n = 539) < .001 281.96 .31 Heterosexual 882 (36.4) 399 (74.0) 1,281 (43.3) < .001 Lesbian/gay 95 (3.9) 31 (5.8) 126 (4.3) .059 Bisexual 788 (32.5) 73 (13.5) 861 (2.9) < .001 Pansexual 435 (18.0) 19 (3.5) 454 (15.3) < .001 Other 222 (9.2) 17 (3.2) 239 (8.1) < .001

Highest education completed (n = 2,426) (n = 539) .043 6.28 .05 High school or less 427 (17.6) 88 (16.4) 515 (17.4) .530 Associate’s degree/vocational training 459 (18.9) 80 (14.9) 539 (18.2) .030 Bachelor’s degree or higher 1,540 (63.5) 370 (68.8) 1,910 (64.4) .022

Parental education (n = 2,422) (n = 538) .177 3.47 .03 High school or less 500 (20.6) 127 (23.6) 627 (21.2) ― Associate’s degree/vocational training 380 (15.7) 91 (16.9) 471 (15.9) ― Bachelor’s degree or higher 1,542 (63.7) 320 (59.5) 1,862 (62.9) ―

Religious affiliation (n = 2,405) (n = 539) < .001 182.36 .25 Agnostic 553 (23.0) 157 (29.4) 710 (24.2) .002 Atheist 684 (28.4) 118 (22.1) 802 (27.9) .003 Buddhist 81 (3.4) 14 (2.6) 95 (3.2) .420 Christian 260 (10.8) 157 (29.4) 417 (14.2) < .001 Hindu 6 (0.25) 1 (0.19) 7 (0.24) 1.000 Jewish 78 (3.2) 17 (3.2) 95 (3.2) 1.000 Muslim 0 (0.00) 2 (0.37) 2 (0.06) .033 Other 743 (30.9) 68 (12.7) 811 (27.6) < .001

Parental religious affiliationc (n = 2,423) (n = 538) ― ― ― Agnostic 499 (20.6) 93 (17.3) 592 (20.0) .094 Atheist 292 (12.0) 61 (11.3) 353 (11.9) .699 Buddhist 59 (2.43) 9 (1.67) 68 (2.30) .341 Christian 1,714 (70.6) 390 (72.4) 2,104 (71.1) .432 Hindu 11 (0.45) 2 (0.37) 13 (0.44) 1.000 Jewish 214 (8.8) 35 (9.7) 249 (8.4) .097 Muslim 16 (0.7) 2 (0.4) 18 (0.61) .637 Other 278 (11.5) 48 (8.9) 326 (11.0) .103

Political affiliation (n = 2,421) (n = 539) < .001 36.07 .11 Democrat 1,045 (43.2) 262 (48.6) 1,307 (44.2) .024 Republican 73 (3.0) 30 (5.6) 103 (3.5) .006 Libertarian 172 (7.1) 23 (4.3) 195 (6.6) .016 Green Party 134 (5.5) 8 (1.5) 142 (4.8) < .001 Independent 879 (36.3) 201 (37.3) 1,080 (36.5) .692 Other 118 (4.9) 15 (2.8) 133 (4.5) .038

Parental political affiliationc (n = 2,389) (n = 534) ― ― ― Democrat 1,384 (57.0) 288 (53.4) 1,672 (57.2) .143 Republican 992 (40.9) 218 (40.5) 1,210 (41.4) .899 Green Party 42 (1.7) 2 (0.37) 44 (1.5) < .001 Libertarian 93 (3.8) 8 (1.3) 101 (3.5) .002 Independent 387 (15.9) 111 (20.6) 498 (17.0) < .001 Other 119 (4.9) 12 (2.2) 131 (4.5) < .001

Ethnicity (categorized) (n = 2,416) (n = 539) .005 10.43 .06 Non-White, single race 143 (5.9) 40 (7.4) 183 (6.2) .222 White only 2,010 (83.2) 463 (86.1) 2,473 (83.7) .118 Multiethnic 263 (10.9) 35 (6.5) 298 (10.1) .003

Ethnicityc (n = 2,416) (n = 539) ― ― ― Asian 57 (2.4) 19 (3.5) 76 (2.6) .131 African 64 (2.7) 13 (2.4) 77 (2.6) .881 Hispanic 106 (4.4) 24 (4.5) 130 (4.4) .908 Native 109 (4.5) 8 (1.5) 117 (4.0) .001

(Continued)

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Table1. (Continued)

Demographics Polyamorous (n = 2,428)

Monogamous (n = 539)

Total (n = 2,967) p Valuea χ2/t Statistics Cramer’s V/ Cohen’s db

Pacific Islander 13 (0.5) 0 (0.00) 13 (0.44) .143 White 2,205 (91.3) 483 (89.6) 2,688 (91.0) .371 Multiethnic 125 (5.2) 17 (3.2) 142 (4.8) .057 Other 50 (2.1) 3 (0.55) 53 (1.8) .018

Income (US$) (n = 2,408) (n = 539) .003 21.21 .09 < $20,000 697 (29.0) 124 (23.1) 821 (27.9) .007 $20,000–$40,000 626 (26.0) 120 (22.4) 746 (25.3) .089 $40,000–$60,000 389 (16.2) 106 (19.8) 495 (16.8) .048 $60,000–$80,000 247 (10.3) 71 (13.3) 318 (10.8) .046 $80,000–$100,000 155 (6.4) 29 (5.4) 184 (6.3) .430 $100,00–$120,000 107 (4.4) 27 (5.0) 134 (4.6) .567 $120,000–$150,000 56 (2.3) 18 (3.36) 74 (2.5) .170 > $150,000 131 (5.4) 41 (7.65) 172 (5.8) .053

Profession (n = 2,426) (n = 539) < .001 73.13 .16 Student 370 (15.3) 96 (17.8) 466 (15.7) .150 Education (nonstudent) 178 (7.3) 82 (15.2) 260 (8.8) < .001 Military 18 (0.74) 0 (0.00) 18 (0.61) .058 Government 74 (3.0) 20 (3.7) 94 (3.2) .416 Banking 58 (2.4) 18 (3.3) 76 (2.6) .227 Information technology 432 (17.8) 56 (10.4) 488 (16.5) < .001 Marketing 46 (1.9) 11 (2.1) 57 (1.9) .862 Retail 131 (5.4) 22 (4.1) 153 (5.2) .237 Service 126 (5.2) 39 (7.2) 165 (5.6) .077 Health care 188 (7.8) 55 (10.2) 243 (8.2) .068 Homemaker 112 (4.6) 25 (4.6) 137 (4.6) 1.00 Unemployed 104 (4.3) 10 (1.9) 114 (3.8) .006 Other 589 (24.3) 105 (19.5) 694 (23.4) .018

Marital statusc (n = 2,419) (n = 537) ― ― ― ― Married 992 (40.9) 236 (43.8) 1,228 (41.5) .230 Civil union 244 (10.0) 29 (5.5) 273 (9.2) .009 Separated 111 (4.6) 3 (0.56) 114 (3.9) < .001 Divorced 420 (17.3) 40 (7.5) 460 (1. 6) < .001 Widowed 33 (1.4) 6 (1.1) 39 (1.3) .810 Never married 839 (34.6) 233 (43.2) 1,072 (36.7) < .001

Children in the household (n = 2,413) (n = 537) .805 2.31 .03 0 1,481 (61.6) 321 (60.3) 1,802 (61.4) ― 1 337 (14.0) 75 (14.1) 412 (14.0) ― 2 333 (13.9) 76 (14.3) 409 (14.0) ― 3 149 (6.2) 33 (6.2) 182 (6.2) ― 4 60 (2.5) 19 (3.6) 79 (2.7) ― 5+ 44 (1.8) 8 (1.5) 52 (1.8) ―

Members of the household (n = 2,404) (n = 532) < .001 32.82 .11 1 317 (13.1) 50 (9.3) 367 (12.4) .014 2 802 (33.2) 231 (43.0) 1,033 (35.0) < .001 3 552 (22.9) 119 (22.2) 671 (22.8) .776 4 390 (16.2) 91 (17.0) 481 (16.3) .652 5 183 (7.6) 24 (4.5) 207 (7.0) .009 6 72 (3.0) 15 (2.8) 87 (3.0) .889 7 49 (2.0) 3 (0.6) 52 (1.8) .017 8+ 48 (2.0) 4 (0.7) 52 (1.8) .005

Number of divorces (n = 2,428) (n = 539) < .001 38.11 .11 0 1,712 (70.5) 448 (83.1) 2,160 (72.8) < .001 1 541 (22.3) 76 (14.1) 617 (20.8) < .001 2 132 (5.4) 13 (2.41) 145 (4.9) .110 3 27 (1.1) 2 (0.4) 29 (0.98) .135 4 11 (0.5) 0 11 (0.37) ― 5 2 (0.08) 0 2 (0.07) ― 8+ 3 (0.01) 0 3 (0.10) ―

aSignificant p values are bolded (< .05). bFor the pairwise within-group comparisons, due to small expected number of cells, we utilized Fisher’s exact test; χ2 and Cramer’s V cannot be presented. cWill not add up to 100% because participants may select multiple options.

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p < .001; Cramer’s V = .23). Among female-identified participants, bisexual was the most commonly reported sex- ual orientation identity for those who were in polyamorous relationships (43.6%), whereas heterosexual was the most commonly reported sexual orientation for women who were in monogamous relationships (71.9%). Among male parti- cipants, heterosexual was the most commonly endorsed sexual orientation category for both relationship types (poly- amorous, 64.6%; monogamous, 79.6%). Pansexual was an orientation that was frequently mentioned by polyamorous females (20.1%), but this orientation was mentioned less often by polyamorous males (9.0%, p < .001). Gay/lesbian was the least mentioned sexual orientation category among polyamorous males and females (males, 3.3%; females, 4.1%; p = .337). Across both groups, those who were transgender or identified with other genders often reported pansexual or “other” sexual orientations. Due to the sparse number of participants in some of these categories (e.g., monogamous gay/lesbian transgender participants), further statistical inferences were not performed. (Data for an enu- meration of all possible pairwise comparisons are available upon request or on the OSF: https://osf.io/z8cme/.)

Highest Level of Education

Participants in polyamorous and monogamous relation- ships differed in their highest level of education achieved (χ2 = 6.27, p = .043; Cramer’s V = .05). Most participants reported having at least a bachelor’s degree or higher, although participants in monogamous relationships were more likely to have a bachelor’s degree or higher than participants in polyamorous relationships (polyamorous, 63.5%; monogamous, 68.8%; p = .022). There was no

difference between participants in polyamorous and mono- gamous relationships whose highest education was high school or less (polyamorous, 17.6%; monogamous, 16.4%; p = .529).

Parental Education

There were no statistically significant differences between participants in polyamorous and monogamous rela- tionships in their reported parental education (χ2 = 3.47, p = .177; Cramer’s V = .03). Just like the participants themselves, the highest level of education attained by either parent was typically a bachelor’s degree or higher (polya- morous, 63.7%; monogamous, 59.5%).

Religious Affiliation

There was a difference in the distribution of religious affiliations between the participants in monogamous and polyamorous relationships (χ2 = 182.36, p < .001; Cramer’s V = .25). The largest difference was for Christianity, such that participants in monogamous relation- ships were more likely to identify as Christian (monoga- mous, 29.4%; polyamorous, 10.8%; p < .001). By contrast, participants in polyamorous relationships were more likely to choose the option for “other” religion than were partici- pants in monogamous relationships (polyamorous, 30.9%; monogamous, 12.7%; p < .001). For both groups, common open-ended responses included “secular humanist” (n = 3), “Wiccan” (n = 34), “spiritual” (n = 70), “pagan” (n = 230), and “none” (n = 47). The proportions of agnostic (poly- amorous, 23.0%; monogamous, 29.4%; p = .002) and athe- ist affiliations (polyamorous, 28.4%; monogamous, 22.1%; p = .003) differed significantly between the two groups, such that participants in polyamorous relationships were less likely to identify as agnostic and more likely to identify as atheist compared to participants in monogamous relation- ships. Finally, there were no participants in polyamorous relationships in this sample who identified as Muslim, and very few, yet significantly more participants in monogamous relationships, who identified as Muslim (polyamorous, 0.00%; monogamous, 0.37%; p = .033).

Parental Religious Affiliation

Participants most commonly reported that their parents were Christian (polyamorous, 70.6%; monogamous, 72.4%; p = .432), followed by agnostic (polyamorous, 20.6%; monogamous, 17.3%; p = .094) and atheist (polyamorous, 12.0%; monogamous, 11.3%; p = .699). There were no statistically significant differences between the two groups regarding parental religion.

Political Affiliation

Participants in polyamorous and monogamous relation- ships differed in their political affiliation (χ2 = 36.07,

Table 2. Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity of Participants

Participants

Gender Identity N (%)a

Male Female Transgender Other Total

Polyamorous Heterosexual 545 (64.6) 329 (23.5) 1 (2.0) 6 (4.7) 882 Gay/lesbian 28 (3.3) 57 (4.1) 3 (5.9) 7 (5.5) 95 Bisexual 152 (18.0) 611 (43.6) 8 (15.7) 17 (13.3) 788 Pansexual 76 (9.0) 282 (20.1) 18 (35.3) 59 (46.1) 435 Other 43 (5.1) 119 (8.5) 21 (41.2) 39 (30.5) 222 Total 844 1403 51 128

χ2 = 671.81; p < .0001; Cramer’s V = 0.30 Monogamous Heterosexual 152 (79.6) 245 (71.9) 1 (33.3) 1 (25.0) 399 Gay/lesbian 17 (8.9) 14 (4.1) 0 0 31 Bisexual 17 (8.9) 55 (16.1) 1 (33.3) 0 73 Pansexual 3 (1.6) 12 (3.5) 1 (33.3) 3 (75.0) 19 Other 2 (1.1) 15 (4.4) 0 0 17 Total 191 341 3 4

χ2 = 86.61; p < .0001; Cramer’s V = 0.23

Note. Table shows the distribution of sexual orientation identities (column) and gender identities (row) in the study. aPercentages are calculated as subtotals of the columns.

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p < .001; Cramer’s V = .11). While Democrat was the most commonly endorsed party by both groups, participants in monogamous relationships selected this option more fre- quently than did participants in polyamorous relationships (monogamous, 48.6%; polyamorous, 43.2%; p = .024). There were a few Republicans in the current samples for both groups, although participants in polyamorous relation- ships were less likely to select Republican than were partici- pants in monogamous relationships (polyamorous, 3.0%; monogamous, 5.6%; p = .006). There were not many partici- pants who selected other parties, but polyamorous participants were more likely to identify with smaller parties, such as the Green Party (polyamorous, 5.5%; monogamous, 1.5%; p < .001) and Libertarian (polyamorous, 7.1%; monogamous, 4.3%; p = .016). Independent was an affiliation that was equally endorsed by both groups (polyamorous, 36.3%; monogamous, 37.3%; p = .692), yet slightly more participants in polyamorous relationships selected “other” political affilia- tions than did participants in monogamous relationships (polyamorous, 4.9%; monogamous, 2.8%; p = .038). For both groups, “other” affiliations included “anarchist” (n = 21), “progressive” (n = 10), “none” (n = 11), and “Democratic socialist”/“socialist liberal” (n = 20).

Parental Political Affiliation

Participants could select more than one option for their parents’ political affiliation. Just like the participants them- selves, the most common parental political affiliation selected was Democrat (polyamorous, 57.0%; monoga- mous, 53.4%; p = .143). Unlike the participants, though, many parents of participants in both monogamous and poly- amorous relationships were Republican. However, the pro- portion of Republican parents did not differ significantly between groups (polyamorous, 40.9%; monogamous, 40.5%; p = .899). With regard to third parties, there were significant differences in the proportions of Libertarian par- ents (polyamorous, 3.8%; monogamous, 1.3%; p = .005), Independent parents (polyamorous, 15.9%; monogamous, 20.6%; p < .001), and those who selected “other” (polya- morous, 4.9%; monogamous, 2.2%; p = .008), indicating that the parents of participants in polyamorous relationships were more likely to be Libertarian (although this percent is low), more likely to identify with another party, and less likely to identify as Independent.

Ethnicity

There was a significant difference in the distribution of ethnicity between the two groups (χ2 = 10.43, p = .005; Cramer’s V = .06). Overall, most participants were White (polyamorous, 83.2%; monogamous, 86.1%; p = .118), although participants in polyamorous relationships were more likely to identify as multiethnic than were participants in monogamous relationships (polyamorous, 10.9%; mono- gamous, 6.5%; p = .003). There was a low number of single ethnicity, non-White participants in both groups

(polyamorous, 5.9%; monogamous, 7.4%; p = .222), and the most common non-White ethnicity was Hispanic (poly- amorous, 4.4%; monogamous, 4.5%; p = .907), followed by Asian (polyamorous, 2.4%; monogamous, 3.5%; p = .131), and African American (polyamorous, 2.7%; monogamous, 2.4%; p = .881). “Other” responses include “mixed” (n = 8), “Jewish” (n = 9), and “Middle Eastern”/“Arab”/“Persian” (n = 5). The “other” option was more often selected by participants in polyamorous relationships than by partici- pants in monogamous relationships (polyamorous, 2.1%; monogamous, 0.55%; p = .018).

Income

There was a difference in the distribution of income between the two groups (χ2 = 21.21, p = .003; Cramer’s V = .09) such that participants in polyamorous relationships tended to report a lower income bracket than did those who were in monogamous relationships. Participants in polyamor- ous relationships were more likely to make less than $20,000 per year compared to participants in monogamous relation- ships (polyamorous, 29.0%; monogamous, 23.1%; p = .007). Conversely, participants in monogamous relationships were more likely to report making more than $100,000 per year compared to participants in polyamorous relationships (mono- gamous, 16.1%; polyamorous, 12.1%; p = .020).

Profession/Work

There was a difference in the distribution of professions between participants in polyamorous and monogamous rela- tionships (χ2 = 73.13, p < .001; Cramer’s V = .16). Participants in polyamorous relationships were more likely to work in information technology (polyamorous, 17.8%; monogamous, 10.4%; p < .001), whereas participants in monogamous rela- tionships were more likely to work in education (monoga- mous, 15.2%; polyamorous, 7.3%; p < .001). Participants in polyamorous relationships were more likely to be unemployed (polyamorous, 4.3%; monogamous, 1.9%; p = .006). Participants in polyamorous relationships also were more likely to select “other” for their profession (polyamorous, 24.3%; monogamous, 19.5%; p = .018); these responses com- monly included “writer,” “transportation,” “wholesale,” “self- employed,” “retired,” and “legal.”

Marital Status

Participants could select all marital statuses that applied. Many of the participants in this study reported that they were married (polyamorous, 40.9%; monogamous, 43.8%; p = .230). Although the proportion of married individuals did not significantly differ across groups, participants in polyamorous relationships were more likely to be in a civil union than were participants in monogamous relation- ships (polyamorous, 10.0%; monogamous, 5.5%; p < .001). Participants in a polyamorous relationship also were more likely to report separation (polyamorous, 4.6%;

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monogamous, 0.56%; p < .001) and divorce (polyamorous, 17.3%; monogamous, 7.5%; p < .001), and less likely to report never being married (polyamorous, 34.6%; monoga- mous, 43.2%; p < .001). Differences were found between the two groups when comparing the number of divorces between participants in a polyamorous and monogamous relationship (χ2 = 38.11, p < .001). Participants in polya- morous relationships were less likely to report never being divorced than were participants in a monogamous relation- ship (polyamorous, 70.5%; monogamous, 83.1%; p < .001), and participants in polyamorous relationships were more likely to report at least one divorce (polyamorous, 22.3%; monogamous, 14.1%; p < .001). Very few participants reported two divorces (polyamorous, 5.4%; monogamous, 2.4%; p < .001); of those participants who did report two divorces, participants in polyamorous relationships were more likely to have been divorced twice.

Household Members and Children

The distribution of number of children did not signifi- cantly differ between participants in polyamorous and monogamous relationships (χ2 = 2.31, p = .804; Cramer’s V = .03). Most participants did not have children living in the household (polyamorous, 61.6%; monogamous, 60.3%), although there was a significant difference in the distribu- tion of number of household members between participants in polyamorous and monogamous relationships (χ2 = 32.82, p < .001; Cramer’s V = .11). Participants in polyamorous relationships were less likely to have two household mem- bers than were participants in monogamous relationships (polyamorous, 33.2%; monogamous, 43.0%; p < .001), and they were more likely to have five or more household members than those who were in monogamous relationships (polyamorous, 7.6%; monogamous, 4.4%; p = .017).

DISCUSSION

Our study explored demographic differences between individuals in polyamorous and monogamous relationships recruited from two online samples of people living in the United States. Overall, differences emerged for gender, sex- ual orientation, level of education, religious affiliation, poli- tical affiliation, parental political affiliation, ethnicity, income, employment, and marital status. No differences were observed for age, parental education level, and paren- tal religious affiliation. This study extends previous descrip- tive findings by focusing on polyamory exclusively (rather than CNM overall) and by assessing differences in areas that have not been considered in previous research (e.g., employment type, income, marital status, religious affilia- tion, political affiliation, and parental background). The within-group differences among our participants call into question the view that polyamorous participants represent a homogenous group (see Noël, 2006; Sheff, 2005; Sheff & Hammers, 2011; Wheeler, 2011).

Diversity within the polyamorous sample is evident in participants’ reports of their gender identity. For example, over 7% of participants in polyamorous relationships iden- tified as transgender or “other” genders, whereas only 1% of participants in monogamous relationships identified as such. Findings concerning sexual orientation were consistent with past results among CNM participants (Haupert, Gesselman, Moors, Fisher, & Garcia, 2017; Manley, Diamond, & van Anders, 2015) in that individuals in polyamorous relation- ships were more likely to identify as bisexual or pansexual, or to indicate an “other” sexual orientation, whereas indivi- duals in monogamous relationships were more likely to identify as heterosexual. In fact, the difference in the pro- portion of individuals in polyamorous and monogamous relationships who identified as bisexual in our study was close to 20%, whereas the difference for heterosexual iden- tification was approximately 40%. One possibility is that bisexual individuals are more predisposed to enter and remain in polyamorous relationships. Alternatively, it is possible that being in a polyamorous/CNM relationship leads individuals to be more likely to acknowledge bisexual attractions or to experience sexual fluidity.

These group differences in gender identity and sexual orientation complement one another in that people who identify as trans or gender nonbinary tend to be more likely to endorse nontraditional sexual orientation categories (e.g., pansexual), which do not have assumptions of a binary gender (Kuper, Nussbaum, & Mustanski, 2012). It is also noteworthy that the least endorsed sexual orientation among individuals in polyamorous relationships was gay/lesbian rather than heterosexual. In fact, similar proportions of participants in polyamorous and monogamous relationships endorsed a gay/lesbian identity. This finding contrasts with the results of the LM study, where heterosexual was the least commonly endorsed orientation category among CNM participants (Cox et al., 2013). While it is unknown why this is the case, one may argue that our study’s recruitment strategies, which focused on polyamorous groups, may have underrecruited gay/lesbian polyamorists, whose poly- amorous identities may be less salient and/or who are pos- sibly more active in LGBTQ-oriented groups. Some literature has shown that a high proportion of gay men practice CNM, most commonly in the form of open relation- ships and swinging (Barker & Langdridge, 2010). An alter- native possibility is that gay men’s increased propensity to practice CNM does not extend to the practice of polyamory.

We also examined differences in the political and reli- gious affiliations of our respondents, as well as those of their parents. Of the political and religious affiliation com- parisons, the association between religious affiliation and relationship orientation was the strongest (Cramer’s V = .25). Individuals in polyamorous relationships (10.8%) were much less likely to identify as Christian compared to individuals in monogamous relationships (29.4%). This finding is not surprising in light of strong Christian prohibi- tions against nonheterosexuality and the high rate of non- heterosexuality we observed among persons in polyamorous

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relationships. Given this difference, one might suspect that individuals in polyamorous relationships would be more inclined to identify as atheist or agnostic. Although this was true for atheism, participants in polyamorous relation- ships were less likely to identify as agnostic compared to individuals in monogamous relationships. Individuals in polyamorous relationships were much more likely to have selected “other” religions.

Although the association was not as strong as it was with religion, we also found that polyamorous participants were less likely to be Republican and more likely to be affiliated with the Green Party than those who were monogamous. This finding contrasts with previous findings for swingers, who are typically moderates or conservatives and tend to vote Republican (Jenks, 1998). This difference may stem from the fact that polyamorists (relative to swingers) seem disproportionately likely to identify as sexual and gender minorities. Given that sexual and gender minorities have historically been excluded by the Republican party (McGee, 2016), this could explain why they are less likely than swingers to affiliate with that party.

Another novel contribution of our study involved the assessment of differences among the parents of respondents. While no differences in parental religious affiliation and education level between monogamous and polyamorous individuals’ parents emerged, polyamorous respondents’ parents were more likely to report their affiliation as Green Party and Libertarian, and less likely to report their affilia- tion as Independent. Results need to be interpreted with caution due to the small number of participants who reported parents affiliated with these parties.

Across analyses involving gender identity, sexual orien- tation, religious affiliation, political affiliation, and ethnicity, we noted a tendency for participants in polyamorous rela- tionships to choose the “other” option more frequently than did participants in monogamous relationships. To our knowledge, there have been no other studies that have reported similar findings across demographic variables among people in CNM relationships. We speculate that this finding may reflect polyamorists’ preferences to reject or deviate from traditional group labels, similar to how trans people tend to reject traditional sexual orientation labels (Kuper et al., 2012) and how both sexual and gender mino- rities continue to challenge the traditional definition of families as exclusively involving monogamous heterosexual couples who have children together (Giddens, 1992). Rejection of labels in our data is corroborated by the open-ended responses for the ethnicity question, where some participants explicitly expressed their rejection of these traditional labels with such comments as “Race is a social construction.”

It is also important to note that we have replicated recent findings from Rubin and colleagues (2014), which challenged the prevailing belief that CNM (Jenks, 2014; Jenks, 1998) and polyamorous groups (Noël, 2006; Sheff, 2005; Sheff & Hammers, 2011; Wheeler, 2011) are homogenously White. We also found that

participants in polyamorous relationships were more likely to be multiethnic compared to participants in monogamous relationships. It is possible that compar- able results have not been reported because of how questions about race/ethnicity were asked in past studies. In the current study, the option of “multiracial” was a stand-alone choice. This approach has been taken in one previous study involving polyamory (Rubin et al., 2014), although many studies on gender and sexual minorities in the United States have not provided the option of multiracial (e.g., Conron, Scott, Stowell, & Landers, 2012; Kuper et al., 2012).

Our findings also suggest that individuals in polya- morous relationships had more turnover in their rela- tionships compared to individuals in monogamous relationships. Individuals in polyamorous relationships not only were more likely to have been divorced or separated but also reported a higher number of divorces than did individuals in monogamous relationships. Because individuals in polyamorous relationships reported having more relationships than individuals in monogamous relationships, we might expect that there would be more separations and divorces among poly- amorous participants. This is not to say that polyamor- ous relationships are less strong or stable in general; rather, it may be a reflection of the fact that with more relationship experiences subsequently come more break- ups. Caution in interpreting this finding is required due to the intricacies in the structure of certain polyamorous relationships. For instance, one may legally “divorce” one’s current partner in order to legally marry a new partner, while maintaining commitment to both partners (Musumeci, 2017). The prevalence of such practice is unknown and its contribution to the high rates of divorce within the polyamorous community cannot be estimated in this study.

Our data also suggest that individuals in polyamor- ous relationships have been in more civil unions than have participants in monogamous relationships. This tendency toward civil unions may be driven by the lower desirability of marriage, especially in current Western societies which prohibit formal polyamorous marriages (Berkowitz, 2007; Duvall-Antonacopoulos, MacRae, & Paetsch, 2005) and enforce “socially imposed monogamy” (Eastwick, 2013), or it may be another sign of their attraction to nontradition labels. However, this explanation on its own seems insufficient, given that 41% of individuals in polyamorous relation- ships either were married currently or had been in the past. Thus, civil unions may be a way to signify com- mitment to partners other than marriage, after a mar- riage has occurred, or once a participant became polyamorous. Historically, sexual minorities have been on the forefront of family changes (Giddens, 1992), and the differences found in numbers of divorces, estimates of civil unions, and number of adults in a household may suggest a restructuring of the family.

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LIMITATIONS AND FUTURE DIRECTIONS

Because of the exploratory nature of these analyses, we did not adjust for multiple comparisons. As a result, the analyses were more sensitive to potential differences (i.e., to maintain low experiment-wise Type 2 error). As such, the interpretation of the differences we found should be constrained by the knowledge of a higher than typical experiment-wise Type 1 error rate in this study. Because there are no more than 10 pairwise comparisons per family of comparisons, we argue that only low p values (.05/10 = .005, thus p < .005) should be considered reliable (see Table 1). Those with higher p values should be considered tentative until replicated in an indepen- dent confirmatory study with well-controlled Type 1 error.

Future studies will benefit from using validated and more inclusive questionnaires to measure certain constructs, such as gender identity (Bauer, Braimoh, Scheim, & Dharma, 2017; Broussard, Warner, & Pope, 2017), as well as asking other relevant questions about religiosity and religious prac- tices (Freiheit, Sonstegard, Schmitt, & Vye, 2006; Koenig & Büssing, 2010). For example, it might be useful to assess the importance of religion in one’s life and one’s frequency of attending religious services. Also, because we restricted our sample to individuals living in the United States, there are important cultural constructs to take into account if comparisons are to be made among individuals across cul- tures in future studies. For example, the institutional and social sanctioning of consensually nonmonogamous rela- tionships would be important to consider when determining the kinds of legal (e.g., marriage) or public commitments (e.g., commitment ceremonies) that polyamorous indivi- duals are able to make with their partners.

Another limitation of the current study is generalizability. Our comparisons may not apply to populations that were not included in our final sample, such as those who are not living in the United States and those who are not connected online. Among those who are in the United States, our findings may not apply to individuals who are in monogamous relationships in rural areas with more religious and Republican leanings, given that political conservatives seem to be underrepresented in the current survey. The proportion of heterosexuals among participants in monogamous relationships was also much lower than the general population, which suggests that individuals in monogamous relationships in the current sample are more likely to be sexual minorities compared to the general population.

Although generalizability might be limited, we can be more assured that differences found in the current study were not due to sampling strategy as both samples were recruited similarly. This strategy may partially explain why some of our results differ from past studies. For example, the LM study used GSS data for its monogamous comparison group, which involved a weighted, probability-based sample of U.S. house- holds and assumed all participants in relationships were mono- gamous. Although their sample was more representative of the general population, the differences observed in the LM study may reflect the different strategies in recruiting monogamous and CNM participants. Results from Rubin and colleagues

(2014) support this hypothesis: Individuals who participated in CNM and who were recruited from online communities tended to be more homogenous than participants recruited by other methods. It is also important to note that these two studies recruited CNM participants broadly instead of poly- amorous participants specifically. Taken together, it appears possible that individuals in polyamorous and monogamous relationships are more alike in terms of age, education, and ethnicity than previously suggested.

To our knowledge, our findings on income and employ- ment inequalities within the polyamorous community have not been identified in prior research. More research should be conducted to investigate whether such inequality exists due to the marginalized status of one’s relationship or some- thing else, such as lifestyle choices, or the fact that indivi- duals in polyamorous relationships are more likely to be sexual and gender minorities. With the rise in the practice of CNM (Haupert et al., 2017; Moore, 2016), it is important to establish whether such inequalities are reliable, and, if so, the impact on those experiencing them.

Polyamory seems to be gaining some societal popularity and interest as a potential relationship alternative (Barker & Langdridge, 2010; Moors, 2016). With this in mind, social scientists are also increasingly turning their attention to the study of CNM and polyamory. While research has begun to document how polyamory is practiced and why individuals pursue such relationships, little research has examined who is in polyamorous relationships and how they might compare to or differ from individuals in more traditional monogamous relationships. Despite limitations, this is one of the first studies to examine demographic differences between individuals in polyamorous and monogamous relationships. Our findings suggest there are notable similarities between individuals in polyamorous and monogamous relationships but also some key demographic differences that need to be considered and potentially controlled. We trust this insight and our findings will be useful when designing future work.

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APPENDIX

GEOGRAPHIC ORIGIN OF INCLUDED AND EXCLUDED PARTICIPANTS

In the current study, polyamorous and monogamous participants were recruited from all over the world. However, for analytic purposes, we included only those who were presently living in the United States to ease interpretation for certain questions (e.g., we only inquired about American political affiliations and income in U.S. dollars). Those who currently lived in other countries but were U.S. citizens were included (e.g., those who wrote “currently in Bolivia but primar- ily live in the U.S.”). In other publications based on this data set that were not concerned with demographic differences, all participants were retained for analyses regardless of geographic location (Balzarini, et. al., 2017). The breakdown of participants based on country or world region is as follows:

Polyamorous (N = 3,517 Participants Who Indicated Their Place of Residence)

● United States (n = 2,428; 69%) ● Canada (n = 335; 9.5%) ● United Kingdom (n = 177; 5%) ● Europe, excluding United Kingdom (n = 356; 10.1%) ● Australia and New Zealand (n = 119; 3.4%) ● South America (n = 52, 1.5%) ● Mexico and Central America (n = 26; 0.7%) ● Asia (n = 12; 0.3%) ● Africa (n = 7; 0.2%) ● US Territories (n = 3; 0.1%) ● Middle East (n = 2; 0.1%)

Monogamous (N = 1,110 Participants Who Indicated Their Place of Residence)

● United States (n = 539; 48.6%) ● Canada (n = 486; 43.8%) ● United Kingdom (n = 16; 1.4%) ● Europe, excluding United Kingdom (n = 41; 3.7%) ● Australia and New Zealand (n = 15; 1.4%) ● South America (n = 4, 0.4%) ● Asia (n = 6; 0.5%) ● Africa (n = 3; 0.3%)

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  • Abstract
    • Demographic Comparisons Among CNM and Monogamous Samples
    • Demographic Comparisons Among Polyamorous Samples
    • THE CURRENT STUDY
  • METHOD
    • Participants
    • Measures
      • Age
      • Gender identity
      • Sexual orientation
      • Education
      • Religious affiliation
      • Political affiliation
      • Ethnicity
      • Income
      • Profession/work
      • Marital status
      • Household members and children
    • Procedure
    • Analytic Strategy
  • RESULTS
    • Age
    • Gender Identity
    • Sexual Orientation
    • Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity
    • Highest Level of Education
    • Parental Education
    • Religious Affiliation
    • Parental Religious Affiliation
    • Political Affiliation
    • Parental Political Affiliation
    • Ethnicity
    • Income
    • Profession/Work
    • Marital Status
    • Household Members and Children
  • DISCUSSION
    • LIMITATIONS AND FUTURE DIRECTIONS
  • REFERENCES
  • APPENDIX
  • GEOGRAPHIC ORIGIN OF INCLUDED AND EXCLUDED PARTICIPANTS
    • Outline placeholder
      • Polyamorous (N = 3,517 Participants Who Indicated Their Place of Residence)
      • Monogamous (N = 1,110 Participants Who Indicated Their Place of Residence)