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Last week I had the pleasure of meeting Kathy Labriola, author of the book Love In Abundance: A Counselor’s Advice On Open Relationships, when she gave a talk at Modern Times Books in San Francisco where I’ll be speaking on Aug. 30. Kathy offered a standing-room-only crowd a wealth of wisdom on the subject of polyamory, gleaned from her practice as a counselor in this area. (She uses the terms polyamory, open relationships, and nonmonogamy interchangeably.) I’d heard some of it before — about jealously arising out of insecurity, for example.

But here’s one insight that stuck with me: Men who are in relationships most often seek additional partners because they want more sex than they are getting. No surprise there. But women, she said, most often seek additional partners because they want more quality time or more intimacy than they are getting. That’s something to think about.

I estimated that two thirds of the audience were women. That fits the stereotype that women are more interested than men in talking about relationships. And we were just talking. Still, there’s a lot of risk involved in exploring polyamory and it impresses me that women are so often in the vanguard of this movement.

5 Responses to “Kathy Labriola on why women are into polyamory”

  1. Kathy

    Hi Laird!
    Thanks so much for the blog post, I appreciate your discussing my book on your blog!

    It is true that men are more likely to be seeking either more sex (not enough quantity/frequency of sex) or more sexual variety (need for novelty and new sexual partners, or different kinds of sexual activities than they have with their initial partner). I always am reluctant to make any generalizations about women or about men, but my experience is that this is true for at least two-thirds of the poly men I have seen as clients, and that is enough of a trend to be worth noting.


  2. Laird

    I guess what puzzles me a little is that I am assuming poly relationships are sexual. If women were just looking for more intimacy or quality time, why wouldn’t they just spend more time with close friends?

  3. Kathy

    Hi Laird!
    No, because they are looking for the type of quality time, bonding, and emotional intimacy that occurs in a romantic relationship, usually as part of sex and romance. I did not mean to imply that women do not want to have sex in a poly relationship, sorry if that is the impression I accidentally gave you. Women love sex as much as men do, but they are much less likely to seek an outside relationship primarily for sex.  What I meant is that women frequently complain that they do not get enough quality time or emotional intimacy with their male partner, and long for more of that. It is not the same as the emotional intimacy and quality time you can have in a friendship, there is a sensual, passionate, romantic element to the experience that is not usually present in platonic friendships.

  4. Susan-Jane

    There is a connection to be seen there in your second paragraph. When women feel connected and intimate, they want to have more sex. So this is what men need to pay attention to if they need more sex and want to have it within a monogamous relationship…

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