The other day in my Theories of Personality class, we were discussing psychological/personality traits that were evolutionarily beneficial. The trait that we were focusing on was jealousy. According to the textbooks, jealousy was a beneficial trait, since males wanted to make sure that their partner’s offspring was actually theirs, and females wanted their male partners to stay around long enough to help raise the offspring. This was all good and dandy, until I decided to bring up polyamory.
I asked my professor how she might defend this notion of jealousy being evolutionarily advantageous when thinking about individuals with multiple partners. I don’t really know what I was expecting when I asked this question, but I definitely didn’t imagine that my professor would look at me, puzzled, and say, “I’m sorry, poly- what?”
I then took the time to explain polyamory to my professor (and probably to several members of the 50+ person class) in fairly frank and simple terms. My professor blushed and commented on the fact that she was embarrassed, and then use the term later in class in conjunction with the statement that “she is hip now”. While it was a little bit frustrating that my psych professor knew nothing about polyamory, I was really happy to be the one to explain it to her and the rest of the class.
I later got a text from one of my classmates thanking me for bringing it up, since it’s a topic that isn’t discussed very frequently. I guess I would just take this as a sign that it’s important to keep spreading the knowledge (and the love)!