Part 12. Humans Are Blank-ogamous. Jankowiak’s Tripartite Conundrum

This is part 12 of a series on the evolution of human mating behavior. Please see the introduction here.

This video is a lecture by the cultural anthropologist William Jankowiak speaking at my alma mater, Binghamton University, on what he calls the “tripartite conundrum” between romantic love, companion love, and sexual desire. I think he has several insights, but realize that the lecture is lengthy.  If you can’t listen to it in its entirety, here is the heart of the matter:

“No culture is ever completely successful or satisfied with its synthesis or reconciliation of passionate, companion, or romantic love and sexual desire.

Whether in a technological metropolis, or in a simple farming community, there’s tension between sexual mores and the prescriptions governing the proper conduct for the expression of love.

Western societies are not unique in their ambivalence. We know from historical and ethnographic fact that there are no reported cultures where passion and affections are equally valued. One is always the more dominant value over the other… One passion is always a subset of an other… In short, no culture ever gets it right…

What human communities have in common is a universal compulsion to make a working piece with a three-way conflict between romantic love, companion love, and sexual expression. Every community must decide whether to synthesize, separate, blend, discount, stress, ignore one or the other.”



  1. Part 1. Introduction Link
  2. Part 2. Promiscuity Link
  3. Part 3. Promiscuity (Genetics) Link
  4. Part 4. Promiscuity (Anatomy/Physiology) Link
  5. Part 5. Pair-Bonding and Romantic Love Link
  6. Part 6. Many Intimate Relationships Link
  7. Part 7. Is It Possible to Love Two People? Link
  8. Part 8. Love and Suffering Link
  9. Part 9. Love Is an Evolutionary Compromise  Link
  10. Part 10. Wondrously Complex Paleo-Sex Link
  11. Part 11. Sexaptation: The Many Functions of Sex Link
  12. Part 12. A Tripartite Conundrum Link

2 thoughts on “Part 12. Humans Are Blank-ogamous. Jankowiak’s Tripartite Conundrum

  1. Some follow-up points, (1) It is a bit weird referring to “Binghamton University.” We called it SUNY-Binghamton, but this was phased out for marketing. (2) The more important point is that the various passions sometimes clash, but individuals and cultures come up with various workable, if imperfect, formulas for sorting them out.

  2. Pingback: Wrapping up the (Blank)-ogamous Series – Patrick F. Clarkin, Ph.D.

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