Example Of Research Paper On Subjectdate

Type of paper: Research Paper

Topic: Love, Relationships, Marriage, Social Issues, Family, Health, Society, America

Pages: 7

Words: 1925

Published: 2020/12/12

Who We Love and How We Love Them: America’s Evolving Sexual Mores

ARTICLE REVIEWS
In an article on The Atlantic.com, “Multiple Lovers, Without Jealousy,” Olga Kazhan explores the history, prevalence, and characteristics of polyamorous relationships, a pluralistic model of relationships which has garnered attention in recent years as the dialogue on sexuality and gender issues moves into the national spotlight. Those identifying as polyamorous not only permit sexual freedom to themselves and their partner, but may also engage in serious long-term relationships with someone (or multiple someones) other than their partner. Kazhan’s personal interviews weave nimbly in and out of statistics, popular polls, and a history of non-monogamy throughout the ages, deepening the reader’s understanding of those who choose non-monogamy or polyamory as well as providing a rational basis for the argument that polyamory deserves to be recognized and accepted as natural and healthy for those who choose it, much like any other sexual preference or orientation.
The personal accounts of Kazhan’s interviewees highlight the positive characteristics of polyamorous relationships, citing healthy communication, honesty, and trust- all of which they assert are required to engage in a satisfying polyamorous relationship. Kazhan counters many common arguments against polyamory, including increased strife within a relationship due to jealousy (not true, according to those interviewed), increased risk of sexually transmitted infections (STI) (a myth roundly debunked by studies she cites in the article), and the effect of polyamory on children growing up in polyamorous homes (positive rather than negative, according to her subjects). Kazhan suggests America’s 40-50% divorce rate is indicative of a society-wide struggle with monogamy, and provides a historical context for polyamory throughout the ages to suggest that it is healthier and more natural in terms of human evolution than true sexual monogamy, which she posits is a relatively recent development in society.
In Helen Fisher’s “Casual Sex May Be Improving America’s Marriages,” traditional sexual mores are challenged from another angle. Fisher, a biological anthropologist and senior research fellow at the Kinsey Institute, outlines the shift currently occurring in how today’s singles date, noting that singles today move throughout the courtship and commitment process much more slowly than in the recent past, but seek physical intimacy much sooner. Fisher asserts that this rush towards physical intimacy, rather than being detrimental to the bonding experience and ruining potential for long-term commitment (as in the commonly echoed “why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free” argument), is actually more in line with how humans develop feelings of love and attachment on a biological level and is thus enabling today’s singles to form healthier, more enduring partnerships that are dictated by true feelings of desire and attachment rather than societal expectations.

ARTICLE COMPARISON

Kazhan’s article dedicates equal time to “de-othering” the polyamorous through personal narratives as she does to normalizing non-monogamy through a historical and evolutionary lens. Fisher eschews all personal narrative, relying instead on research completed by her team and others across the globe to demonstrate and describe just how natural our desire for rapid physical intimacy and delayed commitment is, biologically speaking.
Kazhan focuses on explaining and demystifying why and how the polyamorous love, while Fisher devotes her research and her piece to explaining the science behind how we as humans fall in love. Both assert that the relatively recent shift towards sexual liberalism is enabling individuals to have more freedom in how they love and who they love - a positive development, according to Kazhan and Fisher.
Both articles seek to justify lifestyles and mating habits that have long been labeled nontraditional or alternative. Fisher’s piece is more accessible to those holding traditional conservative views of relationships and marriage; while she advocates what some traditionalists may consider promiscuity for today’s singles, she maintains that permitting and encouraging this shift in morals and dating patterns actually strengthens individual marriages, and thus the institution of marriage, by leading to partnerships that are healthier and more permanent. Kazhan’s piece may be more difficult for proponents of traditional marriage to digest; for all of her efforts to normalize and demystify polyamory, the concept of a pluralistic relationship, partnership or union (however sincere, respectful, or loving) remains perplexing for many.

SUPPORTIVE LITERATURE

Kazhan and Fisher’s pieces are both well-supported by recent research into human sexuality. Both authors reference and cite scholarly journal articles and research studies completed by psychologists, sexual health researchers, and reputable polls (such as the Pew Research Center) to make their cases. Fisher’s assertion that humans are hard-wired to engage in physical intimacy more quickly than emotional intimacy is supported by her own research (cited in the article) into attachment and bonding between couples, which used a combination of subject surveys and fMRI imaging to demonstrate that while feelings of romantic desire and love appeared early in couples, the area of the brain associated with true emotional attachment did not become active until a couple had been together for a great length of time. Fisher’s view that the shift in dating trends leads to healthier marriages appears to hold some truth, but it will be impossible to determine if her projection is valid for many years - until this generation of singles has married and remained married, there is simply a lack of hard data to prove it.
One of the most common arguments against non-monogamy, multiple partners, and polyamory is that of the increased risk for sexually transmitted infections. Kazhan cites in her article a research study completed by a team of sexual health researchers that surveyed sexually monogamous individuals who admitted to being sexually unfaithful to their partner, and individuals who self-reported being involved in a “negotiated non-monogamous” relationship. Shattering the stereotype of careless sexual promiscuity commonly associated with the polyamorous, the research study concluded that those in non-monogamous relationships were more likely to consistently practice safe sex as well as monitor their sexual health and get regularly tested for STIs.
Regarding Kazhan’s assertions about the overall emotional and physical benefit of healthy communication between polyamorous partners, no research has yet been completed regarding how ‘healthy’ polyamorous relationships are as a whole. This is a difficult outcome to measure, as individuals tend to be subjective when describing romantic relationships.

SOCIAL IMPACT

While many Americans maintain that traditional courtship and marriage practices are relevant in modern society, an increase in sexual liberalism is encouraging those who disagree to emerge from the shadows and participate in a meaningful dialogue regarding whether or not there is room for more freedom, flexibility, and fluidity in how and whom we love.
At a time when Americans are marrying later than ever, if at all, and 40-50% of marriages end in divorce, one would be remiss in failing to at least make an effort to understand why society’s traditional relationship models are becoming increasingly unsustainable, and examining the potential benefits of expanding our definitions of love, commitment, and marriage for individual families and society as a whole. While many seem to fear that an increased acceptance of alternative lifestyles will lead to the dissolution of family life as we know it in America, one need only look at the rising divorce rates to recognize that this concept is already eroding, independent of any widespread acceptance of alternative lifestyles and alternative families. As a society, we seem to be slowly shifting concern from how well we are preserving the institute of marriage to whether or not individuals are engaging in and raising offspring within stable, committed, and healthy relationships, as evidenced by an increased acceptance of gay and lesbian marriage and adoption.
Fisher’s research seems to normalize and explain dating trends that have become readily apparent in recent years, much to the chagrin of some in older generations who feel that physical intimacy should only come after some level of emotional intimacy is attained. While earlier generations allowed religious and social traditions to dictate how they courted and committed, younger generations seem less influenced by tradition as by their peers. Casual sex, one night stands, and confusing relationship statuses have become the norm for many, and do not carry the same social stigma as they did a generation or two ago. Today’s young and single were more likely to have grown up affected by divorce, reducing the stigma of divorce and changing life partners and leading them to question the institution of marriage itself; modern singles seem increasingly wary of making a lifelong commitment knowing that the odds of remaining together are no longer overwhelmingly in their favor.
A rise in the number of openly polyamorous families would require that society further shift its perspective on what constitutes a ‘family,‘ much as it has been forced to do in response to the gay community’s demands for general acceptance, marriage equality, and the right to adopt children. The concept of family values is deeply rooted in our society, and while it can adapt with the times, public opinion of and support for alternative lifestyles tends to advance slowly.
Just as the gay marriage debate raised questions regarding the rights awarded to spouses of the same gender, the polyamorous marriage debate will raise even more polarizing questions. Is adultery a valid reason for requesting divorce within a poly marriage, as it is in traditional marriages? Are polyamorous couples allowed to marry other individuals beyond their first spouse? Can all members of a polyamorous relationship commit legally to each other through a civil union? If a polyamorous family has a child, whose name goes on the birth certificate, and does the non-biological parent have any parental rights? Who receives health insurance coverage? Who is granted the right to be with their loved one on their deathbed, and plan their funeral services? These questions are the most pressing for many poly families, and due to their sensitive legal and political nature, may have the greatest impact on our society as a whole.

PERSONAL IMPACT

While increased openness by and acceptance of polyamorous families has little personal impact on me as a non-polyamorous individual, the shifting trends in dating and commitment described by Fisher do. While modern singles are increasingly open-minded, a great deal of criticism, mistrust, and double standards complicate our efforts to connect with each other in a meaningful way.
A commonly accepted attitude towards dating holds that if you are interested in a serious relationship with an individual, it’s best to wait longer before becoming physically intimate, unlike those seeking a casual fling or one-night stand. I, like many my age, fear that engaging in physical intimacy too soon will lead potential partners to see me as promiscuous and not being respectable enough to enter into a serious relationship with. Fisher’s research suggests that this anxiety is not as warranted as I may have previously thought, and illustrates that meaningful relationships can and do arise from early sexual intimacy.

Works Cited

Fisher, Helen. “Casual Sex May Be Improving America’s Marriages.” Nautilus: Science
Connected. Nautilus Think, 5 March 2015. Web. 6 March 2015.
Kazhan, Olga. “Multiple Lovers, Without Jealousy.” The Atlantic. The Atlantic Monthly Group,
21 July 2014. Web. 6 March 2015.

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