The first International Academic Polyamory Conference was held in Berkeley CA February 15-17, 2013 with approximately 100 attendees. Polyamory is the practice, desire, or acceptance of having more than one intimate relationship at a time with the knowledge and consent of everyone involved. It is not new or revolutionary that individuals may be involved with more than one other party; what is new is the openness, acknowledgement, and support and encouragement of the situation.
A number of academic studies were presented by researchers from around the world regarding the practice of polyamory. Polyamory is a niche, but increasingly becoming a defined field of sociology research. Theory papers and discussion drew on social movement theory, queer theory, intimacy theory, performance theory, and other aspects of philosophy and sociology. Other conference tracks discussed public education, experiential aspects, and legal and political issues. Some common themes were the notion of plurality and choice in relationship models and a superior level of communications mastery and emotional intelligence.
Plurality in Relationship Models
There may be many relationship models aside from traditional normative monogamy. One only has to look at the fluidity and nuance in the reality of lived existence to see different kinds of relationships. There is the notion of bringing other relationship models into the light for greater legitimacy under the umbrella that would include monogamies and non-monagamies. Any individual may have an almost endless stream of potential demographic self-identifications to make in the categories of Race, Ethnicity, Religion, Gender, Sexuality, Relationship Model, and other categories. Each category has a plurality and range of possible answers and it would be considered discriminatory and inappropriately normative to privilege any specific identification.
There may be a belief that polyamorous individuals have a silver bullet and do not experience jealousy and other challenging emotions often occur in relationships. This is not at all the case. The polyamory community has not mastered jealousy, but it is often true that individuals are in trying on an ongoing basis to master communication with the self and others. Individuals in polyamorous relationships may have more experience, permission, and tools at their disposal for recognizing, acknowledging, and managing jealousy and other emotions that arise in human relationships - poly people may be more skilled at dealing with the situation.