"The life of a blended family". Our Poly Life is written by any one of a poly-fi quad. Each month they will share with readers about issues they face as a blended and committed poly family with nine children still at home. You can read more about them at their website; Our Poly Life.

Previous editions of this column can be found in the Monthly Columns Archives.

More or Less than Normal

Maybe because it’s spring and practically every species in existence is mating during this season, but the subject of sex has come up in several arenas lately, and I don’t think a series of Practical Advice for Poly-ville would be complete without at least nodding in the direction of how a polyamorous lifestyle influences the sex life of it’s followers.

There is great debate among outsiders and poly folk alike as to whether or not more lovers does indeed equate to more sex. While on one hand I can see the reasoning behind the persons who assert it’s simple mathematics (more must therefore equal more) there are just as many who will claim the opposite is true (more people equals less sex per.) Since I am not necessarily a scientific mathematical type, I won’t get into the nitty gritty of those that derive complex formulas to explain the infinite possibilities of poly relationships.

While I can’t, and won’t even try, to speak for anyone else’s personal bedroom schedules. I do, however, have some first hand experience in the poly styled trial and error that our quad had to sort out when we began cohabitating. And, as luck would have it, I’ve managed to trade a few favors for the allowance of spilling the beans, so to speak, on how this is working out for us.

Several months ago, after hearing from both men in our household that each felt himself the recipient of the lesser amount of physical attention, I began tracking what I lovingly refer to as “sex math.” I now have four month’s raw numbers on when, what, and with whom. This information was originally intended for my eyes only, but once I realized some accusations had been thrown around quite hastily, I felt compelled to let the numbers speak for themselves.

As coincidence (in which I overwhelmingly do not believe) would have it, Chias contacted us shortly thereafter asking if we would add this issue to our upcoming column topics. The good news being my judgment on the “more or less sex” debate was no longer opinion in the Our Poly Life quad. I have empirical data to support the changes we’ve noticed in our own life.

Perhaps the first thing one should do when presented with a question like, “Do polyamorists have more sex than normal?” is reply, “What’s your definition of normal?”

We did a little internet research (for what its worth) and discovered that according to the National Opinion Research Center (NORC), the national overall average for sexual encounters in America is 58 per year, roughly once a week. They state sex “declines with age” and can peak around 84 times per year dwindling to near 40 times per year as Americans reach senior status. The Kinsey Institute gives a range based on age between 69-112 encounters per year for that statistic. Men’s Health magazine quotes the “Average Guy” as having 70 encounters a year, at 1.5 times per week. For sake of argument, we will use these figures as the norm. But normal for whom; and in what situation?

When we measure sexual activity, are we measuring by a single person and the number of times that one person has sex each week? Or rather are we looking at a couple? Then there are considerations of a group or a poly family as a whole. Because when we dig into some poly groupings there are those who are in quite different poly situations; long distance relationships, cohabitating poly-fis, or multi faceted dating tribes will all have differing styles and schedules. Certainly in some configurations one could find “proof” of more sex; or less for that matter.

Without completely exposing our private lives, I can say as a quad there is more sex than when we were two separate monogamous couples living apart. I will not try to convince our readers that there isn’t some fluxuation from week to week or month to month between members of our family in terms of who is or is not having more sex. Across the board where both of our men are concerned, impartiality, fairness, and relative equality does exist in our home. Taking into consideration the predictable ups and downs, hectic schedules, business trips, lover’s spats, and normal stressors, there is consistency in the broad sense of the word.

Somewhere in the Poly Percs forum archives is a thread called “Bedroom Bingo.” A very poly-inexperienced Laundry Goddess asked for advice on how other tribes went about finding their niche in the world of polyamorous sleeping schedules. There were many responses where people contributed what had and had not worked for them, but the bottom line clearly resembled other pieces of advice given in the poly world; “It works differently for everyone and you have to figure out what works best for you.” After a year and a half of diligent exploration into all types of options and alternatives, I’m beginning to believe that bit of subjective truth is more mantra than counsel.

So, if the question must be asked, “Do polyamorous people have more sex?” From what I can tell the answer is age old; “It depends.” Depends on the situation, the timing, the current circumstances, and many other factors that effect how each of us feel from day to day.

I am a little fascinated why people are so curious about the sex part. Perhaps the more appropriate question should be, “Do polyamorous people have more love?” Because after all, it isn’t about the sex. Shouldn’t it be about with whom we choose to spend our time? Isn’t it all about relationships and intentional family? Our quad came together for relationship reasons. Any change in our sex lives was merely a result of a synergistic effect.

In a lifestyle that is still considered alternative and controversial, we all will have to make our way through, finding what works for us and our family; each finding our niche and our own patterns of behavior. May we go forth and define for ourselves; because aren’t we all normal, more or less?

~the Laundry Goddess, May 13, 2007

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folks have read this article.