On Polysexuality (3/5)

by Jason Stotts

The Value of Polysexuality

Now that we have seen polysexuality is natural, you might be tempted to stop here and insist that since it is natural, that is a sufficient reason to want to engage in it.  Perhaps it is; on the other hand, naturalness is not a very compelling reason to do something: running may be natural, but I generally desire a more compelling reason to do so.  Further, I want to know that not only is polysexuality natural, I want to know whether it is also ethical.  After all, sex is vitally important in a good life and if polysexuality would jeopardize this, then it must be avoided, not matter now natural it may be.

The question of why you want to engage in polysexuality is the first and most important question that must be asked of anyone wanting to engage in it: your intentions and what you hope to gain from it are major moral considerations.  Having good reasons to want to engage in polysexuality is certainly not morally sufficient, but such reasons are necessary and without having proper intentions and desires, then there is no morally permissible way to be polysexual.

Before a person should even consider a polysexual lifestyle, he must engage in some very serious self-reflection and introspection about the reasons why he wants to engage in polysexuality and what he hopes to gain from it.  It is imperative that this person is not evasive or self-deceptive in the process so that the reasons that he identifies are authentic reasons and not simply rationalizations designed to allow him to realize his whims.  This process should, ideally, take place over a long period of time to make sure that the reasons that a person identifies are real, and persistent, reasons, instead of momentary desires.  In order to judge good reasons and bad reasons, we need a standard by which to judge.  Since we are trying to discover a moral way to engage in polysexuality, we will employ the standard of morality: the good is that which improves a person’s life and happiness as well as those of his partner, while the evil is that which harms a person’s life or happiness or those of his partner.

Once a person has begun this process and come to realize that he has good reasons for wanting to engage in polysexuality, then he should bring it up to his partner and explain his desires and his reasons for them.  Then, his partner must decide whether he or she also desires to engage in polysexuality.  His partner must be given sufficient time to come to a free and fully informed decision on the matter and if his partner decides that he or she is not willing to engage in polysexuality, then his or her decisions must be respected.  Although, this is not to say that the matter must be closed.  Ideally, the process of deciding to engage in polysexuality should be done together as a couple with the partners working together to make the decision, all the while considering the implications of their choices for their long-term health and happiness.  Further, this is not to insist that a person must wait until after he has made up his mind in order to talk to his partner, this decision can be made together.

In the realm of good reasons for polysexuality for a couple, there are things like:

  • A couple wanting to strengthen their bond by engaging in an activity that they both enjoy and can do together.
  • A couple wanting to save a marriage that is otherwise good, but that has become sexually stagnant or sexless due to exogenous factors like children or work, but not from fundamental problems in the relationship, like lack of alignment on fundamental values.
  • A couple who wants to increase their sexual and self knowledge by exploring sexuality and improving their sexual techniques and practical skills in order to increase their sexual pleasure and satisfaction.
  • A couple in which one or both of the partners is bisexual and who wants to allow this person to experience the full range of their sexuality.

In each of these reasons, polysexuality could bring value to the couple’s life and increase their happiness, without harming their life or relationship.

In the realm of good reasons to want to engage in polysexuality for the individuals qua individuals, there are things like:

  • There is a great value in sexual variety and novelty.  For example, men in long-term monogamous relationships have decreasing levels of testosterone leading to lowered energy and libido, and a general distance from life’s pleasures.  Further, men with lower levels of testosterone are “four times more likely [sic] to suffer from clinical depression, fatal heart attacks, and cancer when compared to other men their age with higher testosterone levels.  They are also more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, and have a far greater risk of dying from any cause (ranging from 88 to 250 percent higher, depending on the study).”  However, men who have affairs or multiple sexual partners show higher, or increasing, levels of testosterone.  (SAD, 289-295)
  • Polysexuality helps marriages, as well as the individuals in them, to thrive.  If we look at statistics for divorces in the US, we will notice that roughly 40 percent of all marriages end in divorce in the US.  Of these, a large number are due to sexual reasons like infidelity or sexual incompatibility.  This means that many marriages end because the individuals in them are sexually unsatisfied.  Polysexuality might help solve this problem by giving the individuals the things they need sexually, while also giving them the benefits of the stability and security of a committed long-term relationship.
  • Polysexuality encourages open and honest communication in sexual relationships.  Let’s face it, it’s not like we magically stop desiring other people when we enter into a relationship, we just stop looking for partners to have a relationship with: these are two separate things.  In a polysexual relationship, the incentives for dishonesty are removed, allowing the partners to be honest with each other about their desires when they find another person attractive.
  • Polysexuality lets people explore the full range of their sexuality with partners who are interested in, and enjoy, the same things that they do and which their primary partner may not.  This can range from anything like S/M, to role-playing, to different positions or locations, etc.
  • Studies show that the increased ejaculations for a male can increase fertility (SAD, 238), reduce their likelihood of developing prostate cancer (SAD, 238), and make them 50% less likely to die from coronary heart disease (SAD, 238).
  • Women who are exposed to semen are less likely to suffer from depression  (SAD, 267).  Since sex tends to wane in monogamous couples, polysexual couples should, ceteris paribus, tend to be healthier and happier due to their higher levels of sex.
  • Polysexuality encourages people to stay in shape in order to remain attractive for new partners and in order maintain their stamina and endurance.  In addition, the sex is itself a great form of exercise.

While there are many possible reasons to engage in polysexuality, the reasons that will motivate a couple to engage in polysexuality are ultimately those that they personally find most compelling.  Of course, while the above is not exhaustive, they are all good reasons to want to engage in polysexuality.  However, it should not be forgotten that there are still moral constraints that a person must take into account, which we shall address shortly.

The realm of bad reasons to want to engage in polysexuality is much larger, as it is generally easier to go wrong than to go right.  Thus, this list will certainly not be exhaustive, but I will try to indicate a range of reasons that are immoral.  Some bad reasons a person might have include attempting to salvage a failing relationship where the partners are fundamentally incompatible, in order to placate his partner, in order to debase or humiliate himself, to increase his “numbers” or conquests and gain a false sense of self-esteem from sexual exploits (cf. Don Juan), because he is bored of his partner and is looking for a new partner, because he simply wants to violate norms and/or taboos, et cetera.  The principle is that what makes a reason bad is that it harms a person’s health or long-range happiness, or those of his partner.  In general, bad reasons a person can have fall into just a few categories:

a. It is self-deceptive or evasive.

b. It is dishonest to his partner or potential other lovers.

c. It is damaging to himself, his partner, or his relationship.

d. It is a way of ignoring actual problems with himself or his primary relationship.

While I can’t give exhaustive accounts of either the good reasons or bad reasons to engage in polysexuality, I hope that the above will serve as guidelines in order to help people evaluate their reasons.  As long as a person is guided by the principle that the good is that which improves a his health and happiness as well as those of his partner, while the evil is that which harms a person’s health or happiness or those of his partner that we identified above and then elaborated upon, then he will likely have good reasons to want to engage in polysexuality and avoid moral problems.


Part 1
Part 2

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Part 5

5 Responses to “On Polysexuality (3/5)”

  1. Kelly Elmore

    •Polysexuality helps marriages, as well as the individuals in them, to thrive. If we look at statistics for divorces in the US, we will notice that roughly 40 percent of all marriages end in divorce in the US. Of these, a large number are due to sexual reasons like infidelity or sexual incompatibility. This means that many marriages end because the individuals in them are sexually unsatisfied.

    Do you really think that most infidelity happens because the person is merely sexually unsatisfied? Seems to me that people act out their whole feelings about the relationship through sex, and that infidelity is cause by many things besides sexual dissatisfaction (for example, excitement, looking to fulfill other values that the person doesn’t get from his partner, revenge for hurts, or the desire to feel loved and valued). More sex from other partners won’t cure these things.

  2. JasonStotts


    I must have missed this comment when I was initially responding to comments.

    I think that infedelity is caused by many things: dissatisfaction with a relationship in general, lack of communication of needs, as a way to sabotage a relationship, etc. I also think, though, that polysexuality could help to reduce infidelity. For example, the man who has a strong preference for X will need to have this satisfied and if his partner won’t satisfy it, then he is almost guaranteed to stray. To use one of your examples, there seems to be the same amount of excitement from having sex with a new partner whether it is in a polysexual situation or not. If the person merely likes to feel naughty, or bad, or that he is doing something wrong, then there are worse problems at play here than infidelity. I do think that polysexuality can help reconcile sexual differences, for acts or frequency, by allowing the partners in the marriage to get their sexual needs satisfied in a way that works for them.


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