1. I’m a student in the UK about to finish an undergraduate dissertation about polyamory and gender equality. I found your research on poly-hegemonic masculinities, and women’s sexual subjectivity and power, fantastically helpful, so I’d just like to say thank you.

    1. Thanks Zoe, and best of luck to you on your research!

      Cheers, Elisabeth

  2. Dr. Sheff;

    I am doing a research paper on the affect that polyamorous family units have on children and I came across your name and research. I am very interested in the research that you are doing in this area and am wondering if there is a way to offer my help free of charge. I read in one of your articles that funding for research on polyamory families is low at the moment, but my interested outweighs the financial gain and feel it would be a great opportunity.

    1. Hello Ms. Bailey,

      Thanks for contacting me, and I am glad you are excited about the research. It is very kind of you to offer your help as well. The only thing I can think of right now would be helping to publicize the book when it comes out in November, or help to generate interest for it now. Once I have a web blurb or social media thing I will share it with you and would love your help spreading the word.

      If I think of other more interesting things for you to do I will let you know, and thanks again for reaching out to offer your help!

      Cheers, Elisabeth

  3. ann marie taylor says:

    Do you have a mailing list for notifying people when the book is released?
    Thank you!

    1. Hi Ann,

      Thanks for your interest. I do not have a mailing list for that, but it is a great idea and I will put your name at the top 🙂

      Alternately, you can pre-order the book from the publisher’s website at https://rowman.com/ISBN/9781442222953

      Cheers, Elisabeth

    2. Hi Ann,

      The book is coming out on November 19, at least that is what Amazon says 🙂

      Cheers, Eli

  4. Michelle Martinez says:

    Dr. Sheff,

    I’m the new chair for the BDSM/Kink/Fetish Studies panel for the Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association.

    Our annual conference is April 16-19, 2014 in Chicago and I’m looking for presenters.

    The online CFP is here: http://pcaaca.org/bdsmkinkfetish-studies/
    We are interested in any and all topics about or related to the study of BDSM, sexual kink, or sexual fetishes in all genres, all media, all countries, all kinds, and all eras. All representations of BDSM, Kink, and fetishes in popular culture (fiction, stage, screen—large or small, commercial, advertising, music, song, dance, online, real life, etc.), from anywhere and any-when, are welcome topics of discussion. We also welcome any academic discussion of the real-life practice of BDSM, sexual kink, or sexual fetishes, as well as the lived experiences of people identifying as kinky.

    I sincerely hope you’ll consider presenting at our conference. And I would greatly appreciate your assistance in spreading the word about the conference, which is open to everyone. Grad students, faculty, researchers, and independent scholars in all areas are welcome to present.

    Michelle Martinez (mmartinez@shsu.edu)
    English & Arts Librarian
    Assistant Professor
    Sam Houston State University

    1. Hello Dr. Martinez,

      Thank you for the invitation, the conference sounds quite interesting. It sounds like the perfect place to discuss my research on race and class among people who identify as kinky (and as polyamorous, but that does not have to be a big focus in the presentation) or the differences between BDSM and intimate partner violence/domestic assault.

      Unfortunately, my finances are quite restrictive at the moment and traveling to conferences is a luxury I can not always afford. Does your organization offer any travel stipends to assist presenters with no money in their attempts to attend the conference?

      Thanks again for contacting me, I really appreciate your efforts to diversify the conference presentations!


      Elisabeth Sheff

  5. Hi Dr. Sheff,

    I was given your name by Deborah Anapol after telling her a bit about my situation.

    I’m in a poly triad with a man and a woman, and the three of us have been in a committed relationship and living together for nearly two and a half years. We’re very dedicated to our relationship and love each other very much!

    My female partner has a two and a half year old daughter that was a month old when we began to become ‘serious’ in our relationship. I think of her as my daughter. The biological father has not been in the picture – he’s seen the child all of the three times since birth!

    He’s (very) recently opened up a court case, asking for full custody of our daughter based on the idea that we are raising in her in an unethical home. I know that you’ve written a lot about this topic and I was wondering if you had any advise on how we should move forward. Do we have anything to worry about in court? Should we be seeking an expert witness?

    Thanks so much in advance!

    1. Hello Brandie,

      The short answer is yes, be afraid. The longer answer is it kind of depends on who the judge is, what kind of mood s/he is in that day, and what kind of ammunition the ex-husband has. Because some of this is legally sensitive, I am going to provide a more complete response in a private email. But the larger answer is yes, being poly and facing a custody issue is an extremely tenuous situation and there are a number of things that you might consider doing in order to prepare for a legal challenge. It is not right, fair, or ethical to assume that a family is harmful simply because they are polyamorous, but that does not stop people from doing it. My heart goes out to you and your family.

      Cheers, Elisabeth

  6. Just wondering how did your posting on diversity came out? I’m still here if you need me.

    1. Hey Ron,

      The post is out, and I would love to know what you think about it if you get a chance to read it and comment on it that would be great!



      1. Sure thing.

      2. Very nice and on point. I’m gonna share in our Facebook Black & Poly Facebook group https://www.facebook.com/groups/blackpolyamory/
        Feel free to join us, as we are open to any and everyone. I think you’ll really like what we’re doing there.

      3. Thanks for the invitation. I will definitely join.

        Cheers, Eli

  7. Kathy Ann Thomas R says:

    Hi, Dr. Sheff!

    I turn to ask you the occasion of inquire into certain articles to the polyamory and it would be all a pleasure to know your opinion on this. So I preferred to send you an e-mail to your address, so the discussion was more private. However, I publish this here to be sure that the message has come to you. If so, please respondame.

    Thank you. Merry Christmas! And happy new year!

    Kathy Ann Thomas. Evolutionary psychology student.

    1. Hello Kathy Ann,

      I received your email, did you get my response?

      Cheers, Elisabeth

  8. Hello Dr. Sheff – I would like to ask if you are open to providing a personal consultation by the hour, about specific issues within the scope of your expertise. I have sent you an email with my personal identity and contact information.
    “SpectrumAmore” at jeeeemail dot com

    1. Hi Spectrum Amore,

      I do one-time relationship consultations and ongoing relationship coaching for people who are considering/having polyamorous or BDSM relationships. More information below:

      Relationship Consultation
      • $100 per hour
      These consultations are designed to answer clients’ questions regarding their own actual or potential relationships. Dr. Sheff uses her research data to answer client’s questions and offer feedback about what others have done in their position. Sessions aim to provide information and help clients to clarify their own thoughts and expectations, and consider some of the pitfalls that are common in this type of relationships, how other people have dealt with these difficulties, and how those various strategies worked out.

      Relationship Coaching
      • $100 per hour*
      These ongoing coaching sessions are designed to help clients identify relationship patterns, improve communication skills, and devise strategies for managing challenges. Using extensive research and knowledge from 20 years of interviewing and observing polys and kinksters, Dr. Eli can help clients contemplate a wider perspective and consider a range of alternatives. * Sliding Scale

      While clients often discuss their emotions during these consultations and there is plenty of room for expressing feelings, these are not therapeutic sessions and Dr. Sheff is not a therapist. For clients who wish to seek ongoing therapy, Dr. Sheff is happy to provide clients with referrals for therapists.

  9. I was wondering if you are familiar with the work of Dr. Ruskin? Personally, I feel your work and support of polyamory is unethical as a medical professional. I understand your advocacy for certain populations but polyamory…..not so much.


    1. Hi Robin,

      Thanks for suggesting that I read Dr. Ruskin. I am appalled at her assertions and will be writing a blog in response to the blog you pointed out. Watch this blog or Psychology Today for that response and please let me know what you think.

      Cheers, Eli

      1. I would love to read or hear your response to this woman’s piece of work. As a mother of 2 in a stable/committed polyamors family for 10 years, this woman does not have a clue.

      2. Hi Tasha,

        I can’t tell which woman’s piece you mean — unfortunately I get lots of outlandish responses to my work and only post the ones that are safe for public consumption. Which of the ones I posted are you reacting to?

        Thanks for reading and commenting!

        Cheers, Eli

  10. I think if your blog will be more of your unfounded personal beliefs that this lifestyle is not harmful to children, then I will pass on reading it. I have found supporters of this lifestyle to be completely unwilling to acknowledge any possible negative consequences of putting their own immature relationship ideas over their children’s wellbeing. I had hoped if you could consider what some of your colleagues had to say on this matter you would rethink your position but I see that is not the case. Best of luck to you in your future attempts to brainwash others into believing polyamory is harmless, I’m sure in a society where everyone is entirely self-absorbed you will have no shortage of irresponsible followers.

  11. Hi Robin,

    You clearly have not read any of my peer-reviewed journal articles, book chapters, or either of my books. If you did you would hear that I am not telling everyone to be polyamorous or that polyamory is free of risk. Polyamory is not for everyone, and every relationship style has risk associated with it, so saying that poly is completely risk free would be ridiculous.

    It is fine if you don’t want to read this blog, please feel free to skip it. However, my ideas are anything but unfounded. I have conducted the only longitudinal study of polyamorous families with children, so I must say that 20 years of research with over 100 people is the opposite of unfounded, If you are unwilling to listen to research evidence that is fine, but you have no grounds to call it unfounded.

    Sincerely, Elisabeth Sheff, PhD, CSE, CASA

  12. You are comparing a very small subset of the population who, in believing their lifestyle is appropriate, would be likely to represent it in the best light possible. 100 families over 20 years is nothing, and to treat it as such is faulty science and deliberately misleading people to support your own agenda. Show me how the children raised in an environment like that fair as adults in their own marriages twenty years from now. I can tell you, I have seen firsthand the negative effects of polyamory and would not recommend anyone raising a child in such an environment.

  13. Do you have available statistics on how many poly parents lose their children due to polyamory in custody battles? Specifically, what percentage of poly parents who find themselves in custody cases lose custody of their children due to polyamory?

    I lost primary residence with my daughter at the age of 8, personally, and it was mainly because her father played the “poly” card. (She hadn’t even lived with him before that, ever.) It’s insane. I definitely believe this is a form of systemic oppression, as children are *routinely* taken from poly parents in custody courts. Do you agree? Are polyamorous people oppressed?

    1. Hi Angi,

      I apologize for the long lag time in my response.

      Unfortunately I do not have statistics on how many poly folks lose their kids. Anecdotally I can say that initially everyone whose custody was challenged in court lost their kids. In the past few years I have heard of a couple of families who have been challenged and kept their children, but still the majority lose kids when polyamory is the source of the challenge. In my work as an expert witness I make the case that poly families can be in the best interests of children when — like in all families — the adults handle things in a responsible way. Parents who have sex with or in front of their children are problematic, regardless of the number of people involved in the sex. Parents who maintain appropriate sexual boundaries with their children can have whatever kind of sexual (and non-sexual) relationships they wish among consenting adults. As long as the child remains insulated from the sexuality with the usual boundaries (limited public displays of affection in front of children, a hug and kiss but no heavy groping) then the parents’ sexuality is irrelevant.

      As far as poly people’s sexuality is used against them maliciously, they are oppressed by compulsory monogamy (check out Pepper Mint and ??Caroline?? Emmens for more on that). In other ways they enjoy a lot of social power — the mainstream poly community in the US is largely white, educated, middle class, and hetero or bisexual. So I guess the short answer is yes and no, depending on what kind of oppression you are talking about.

      All the best to you, and thanks for writing.



  14. I heard you speak highly of your editor while listening to you on a Polyamory Weekly podcast. I am looking for an editor for a book on disability that I’m in the process of writing. You said you were particularly happy with her. Would you be willing to share her name and for whom she works? I enjoyed your thoughts and speaking!

    1. Hi Margo,

      My favorite editor of all time (OK, of the two I have had 🙂 is Eve Rickert at Thorntree Press http://thorntreepress.com/

      Let her know I recommended her, and the very best luck with your book!

      Cheers, Eli

  15. I know that polyamory is not for everyone, but I have raised two fully functional, non-“damaged” daughters who have successful, healthy (non-poly) relationships as adults. And to that end, (I wish she was still reading this) ROBIN can go stuff it. Whenever someone has a cross to burn, it is because of their own fear, judgment and misunderstanding. BTW, for an “educated” person, you should learn to use the correct form of a word. One does not “fair” well or poorly, one “fares”. Since any form of “bigamy” is criminal in the USA, I would say that finding 100 families willing to complete that long of a study and risk “outing” their status in their community is a great accomplishment for Dr. Eli, and certainly a large enough sample from which to draw some measurable conclusions.

  16. Dr. Elizabeth,
    Last night/this morning (I’ I’m a night shifter) I read your article about going into a polyamory related when one is poly and the other is prefers monogamy. I unfortunately am the one who prefers monogamy. This is a very recent thing in my wife’s and my marriage. I love my wife so much it hurts. I simply can not be without her. That being said I need much advice as to how to accept this new style of relationship. I am very hurt, upset and have much anger because of this but I am not mad at her. I realize that she can not help it if that’s how she feels. I get that. Anyway, any help in learning to cope with this would be very much appreciated.

    1. Hi Cory,

      Sorry to hear you are in such pain, I know exactly how excruciating and terrifying that mismatch can be. Know that you are not alone. It is so common, in fact, that I am doing a summer workshop tour with the Non-Monogamy Mismatch workshop among several others. You can find the dates and tickets here, in case you can make it to one of the cities along the tour. Practicalnonmonogamy.squarespace.com

      I also provide relationship coaching for individuals, couples, groups, and families, you can find more information here https://elisabethsheff.com/relationship-consultations/

      It is a challenging relationship quandary you are facing, and unfortunately there is no magic solution that will make it all work out. People have been able to navigate this situation in my research experience with the polyamorous community, but it is a delicate process that requires a lot of communication, negotiation, and care. Most people do better with community support (look online, there is a ton on facebook and other places, even a poly/mono facebook group) at a minimum, and direct guidance can really help too.

      Best of luck to you!


  17. Hi! I was wondering if you could point me to any peer reviewed research to back up the article you wrote here: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-polyamorists-next-door/201312/jealousy-and-compersion-multiple-partners-1.
    Especially this bit: Practiced polyamorists talk about focusing on the emotions that are underlying the jealousy, often insecurity or fear of loss. By facing those fears directly, polys are able to address the issues head on instead of allowing them to run the show from behind the scenes.
    Thank You1

    1. Hi Annelise,

      Check out my first book The Polyamorists Next Door — you can link to it from this website under writings.

      Also check out Jillian Deri’s book Love’s Refraction that documents her research on jealousy with polyamorous lesbians.

      Finally, see my articles and chapters listed at the bottom of the writing tab on this site.

      Good luck!



  18. Hi! I was wondering if you could point me to any peer reviewed research to back up the article you wrote here: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-polyamorists-next-door/201312/jealousy-and-compersion-multiple-partners-1.
    Especially this bit: Practiced polyamorists talk about focusing on the emotions that are underlying the jealousy, often insecurity or fear of loss. By facing those fears directly, polys are able to address the issues head on instead of allowing them to run the show from behind the scenes.
    Thank You

  19. i am writing an annotated bibliography and wanted to use your research on polyamory. unfortunately when i ran the name of this blog i couldn’t find it to find out if it was peer reviewed. if you could please get back with me because im very passionate about this subject and wanted to site your research.

    1. Hi Rose,

      The blog itself is definitely not peer reviewed, and I am not sure that any blogs are. Blogs are almost definitionally the thoughts of that person, or at least that is my understanding of them. I have many peer-reviewed publications that you can find under the writing tab, at the bottom it says academic pubs or something like that https://elisabethsheff.com/journal-articles-and-book-chapters/

      Also, the PolyamoryReserachers group has had several rounds of bibliographies that you could use as a base and update, that would then be useful to share with the group if you are up for it. We just moved to a new hosting platform and do not yet have the old archives fully transitioned, but I am sure that if you joined the group and asked for the bibliographies people had already posted so you could update them, people would be happy to help. Their new address and details are in a recent blog on this site labeled PolyamoryReserchers.



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