Polyamory is the contemporary practice of consensual and responsible non-monogamy. Using qualitative, open-ended interviews, I spoke with twenty-two queer, polyamorous women in Vancouver, Canada, about how and why they practice polyamory and specifically how jealousy is experienced, expressed and re-imagined in their relationships. Through the development of a polyamorous philosophy and subculture, polyamorists rethink feeling rules about love, relationships and jealousy with the goal of attaining compersion, a term developed by polyamorists to describe the emotional experience of pleasure felt in relation to a lover’s sexual and/or emotional connection with other people. It is through their participation in the polyamorous community and engagement with its philosophy that polyamorists shift their embodiment of emotion. Jealousy is connected to power relations; therefore I explore how polyamorists are affected by Western cultural regulation of sexuality and emotion, as well as how they rethink power relations within their personal dynamics. Using sociology of emotion, feminist intersectionality theory, queer theory, critical sexualities theory and an insider research methodology, I document a moment of this sexual subculture’s process and illustrate its numerous emotional challenges, punned polyagony.
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Thesis advisor: Travers, Ann
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