Aella just published her Polyamory vs Monogamy survey results.
If you haven’t read it yet, go read it.
First, you should read it un-primed by my comments. I am dropping major spoilers and stuff below.
Second, this is directly about one of the findings, so this post likely won’t make sense without the context of the original posting.
Ok, now that you’ve done that…
My personal takeaway is that many of the findings round off to “poly and monog relationships are actually pretty similar in many metrics, with the exception of ‘slightly monogamous’ people.” Or, to quote the best line, “The difference here is slight (remember it’s zoomed in), but the pattern seems to be that “slightly monogamous” people are sucking a bag of dicks”
There were two usual results though.
Poly folks had a big bump in how much sex they have with their longest-relationship partner at 15-21 years into the relationship. Aella’s comment: “This… confuses me quite a bit more, actually. Why are we getting a sex bump at 15-21 years of relationship, but nowhere else? Did my survey get shared in some niche FB group of “poly sex fiends about to celebrate their 20th anniversary’ or something? The sample size is kinda small and the prediction interval is pretty big, so is it just an artifact? Or are we seeing a phenomenon where people “go poly” in their relationships 18-21 years in and then have a bunch more sex… with each other?”
Poly folks had a big bump in total lifetime sex partners as they hit their 40s. Aella’s comment": “Um, holy shit poly people aged 50+. There’s a poly jump again around 45+; what is going on here? I’m again confused if I’m measuring a real thing or if my data ended up weird for some reason I can’t detect.”
1. Nerds Bloom Late (Socially)
For simplicity, I’m going to use “Nerds” as shorthand for “Autistic-leaning Neurodivergent” and “Normies” as shorthand for “Neurotypical.” I know this is cringe bullshit on my part or whatever, and I don’t really care.
In “Why Nerds are Unpopular” Paul Graham points out that being popular takes a LOT of effort. Normies put in the effort and get popularity, particularly when they are young. They have extremely rich, complex, and (I must assume) fulfilling social lives when they are young. This is also probably when they have the most sex, since sex is a social activity (citation needed).
Social norms do manage to keep their sex lives strongly suppressed though, which is interesting! Less than five partners by age 25.
Nerds, OTOH, put their youthful energies into nerd stuff. Academics, tech, fiction, whatever. They don’t go to many parties. They don’t date much, if at all. I went to zero parties that had girls attending in high school (but I really enjoyed the LAN parties I did attend). I had my first date after I dropped out of college.
As they get older, normies seem to socialize less? They settle into a core group of family and friends, which slowly whittles away. They go out less. They don’t have nearly as many house parties or even just group gatherings.
Nerds have the opposite trajectory. All the energy they plowed into learning stuff pays off in the long run via compounding effects, so they’ve experienced some measure of career/life success. Other people are nicer to the successful nerd. The nerd has some weirdly interesting things to say, sometimes. The nerd tries this “working out” thing, at first because its said to boost cognitive ability and mood, and soon discovers that they also get more positive attention from others due to looking better. Soon, “socialization with other people” becomes a Significant Interest in its own right! The fascination lottery focuses on other people.
I’ve personally seen this a lot, and it happened to me as well.
So, first part of explanation, normies have peak socialization in teens/twenties, nerds have it 15+ years later.
2. Nerds Are A Lot More Poly
I have no stats, but I believe this to be true by observation. Most nerds aren’t poly, but the nerd vs normie ratio among the polyamorous is far higher than in the non-poly population. Especially among the dedicated “This is who I am, this is what I need to be happy in life” folks.
This is significant, because combined with the first point, it means that many poly people only become comfortable enough to start really meeting and pursuing lovers later in life. They may have been poly, and known it, from a young age, but the pool of potential partners is pretty darn limited when your socialization is limited to the same dozen people you feel safe around for many years. A great expansion in socialization in later life means suddenly you’re meeting a lot more people, and you have the skills and confidence to seduce/be seduced by a reasonable subset of them.
Additionally, due to having accumulated a fair chunk resources once the nerds have reached their 40s, they have the luxury of extra time to focus on other things, like new partners! There’s a lot of advantages to being early- or semi-retired if you’re interested in going out a lot. Socialization takes time, and money can buy a lot of time.
Finally, social pressure is significantly lessened as one ages. Not just because younger people are most responsive to social pressure, but because society just seems to care a lot less about older people having sex. Teens boinking? UNPOSSIBLE! People in their 40s lovingly building out sex dungeons and roleplaying vore? Eh, good for them, it’s nice to see them still having passion. This doesn’t lead to more sex partners if one is actually monogamous, by definition, but it can really make the sex thing easier and more pleasant for those who aren’t.
3. But More Sex With Spouse?
This could explain the jump in sexual partners, but doesn’t explain the jump in sex with the partner one has had a 15+ year relationship with, though, right?
It easily does. Sex begets sex. The more excited I am for sex with a new partner, the more excited I am for sex in general as well. I often can’t see a new partner very frequently, but I’m still living with my long-term partner, and that energy transfers. Likewise, when your partner is getting laid it’s sexy as hell. I want to hear all about it, and I want to bang her all the more. When either of us is getting laid more outside our relationship, we’re also getting laid more inside the relationship. And sometimes, a sex with a new partner is ALSO a sex with the current partner, causing both stats to rise at the same time.
In summary: Nerds are overrepresented among poly folks. Nerds bloom late, socially. So a fair chunk of poly folks bloom late socially, leading to greatly increased sex-having rates later in life. This explains much of both the poly sex bumps.
As a fellow nerd, I approve of this message! 🤓