Are there any discourses related to promiscuity?

Are there any discourses that address the topic of sexual promiscuity in the EBT’s? Or was the Buddha silent on this issue?

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Try a search regarding the precept of Sexual Misconduct :slight_smile: A lot has been written on this subject.


Thank you for letting me know. :pray:

I shall search/look.


The prospect of ethical promiscuity seems a bit tortuous in practice. Indeed, seeking respectable partners would be difficult, since said partners would have to be so free of resentment that they would have to be arahants.

Uhhh. But wait…

That means they wouldn’t be inclined to such activity. :thinking:

AN2.9:0.1: 9. Conduct
AN2.9:1.1: “These two bright things, mendicants, protect the world.
AN2.9:1.2: What two?
AN2.9:1.3: Conscience and prudence. If these two bright things did not protect the world, there would be no recognition of the status of mother, aunts, or wives and partners of teachers and respected people. The world would become promiscuous, like goats and sheep, chickens and pigs, and dogs and jackals.


said partners would have to be so free of resentment that they would have to be arahants

I don’t think this is true. Before I started practicing celibacy all my relationships were polyamorous and I almost never had this issue of resentment. However, poly relationships take up an incredible amount of time and mental energy that you can certainly spend doing more productive things.


That makes total sense to me. Polyamory seems rather demanding. And the faculties that support the gentle consideration and love for multiple partners would naturally incline one to a spiritual path. The love required is greater, as is the commitment and insight required to avoid traps of resentment. Thank you for the correction.


Perhaps you are re-defining promiscuity here? Can promiscuity, as defined in the way you astutely cited above, ever be positive?
Maybe this is conflating “promiscuity” and “polyamory” - perhaps these two are distinct? Perhaps promiscuity in the context above is always harmful, but polyamory may be harmful/unbeneficial or harmless/beneficial?

Thank you for sharing.

This discourse came to mind as it seems to mention promiscuity.
However, the main focus of this discourse seems to be “shame about bad deeds” and “fear of consequences of bad deeds” rather than promiscuity specifically. It seems to mention promiscuity as like a negative effect of the lack of development of these two qualities.

Are there any other discourses that address the topic of promiscuity directly and perhaps exclusively?

What exactly do you both mean by “resentment”?

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Promiscuity is defined by its transience and is fueled by desire. I believe that polyamory as used by @Potato tends more towards polygamy with a caring for others absent legal commitments.

My phrase “ethical promiscuity” was intended as an oxymoron to explore the rationale for the Buddha’s rejection of promiscuity. Indeed, the quote focuses on ethical behavior, thereby emphasizing the impossibility of ethical promiscuity.

Intention is critically important in Buddhism. Ethics pertain to intention.

Many suttas discuss resentment and ways of getting rid of it:

AN5.162:2.1: “Reverends, a mendicant should use these five methods to completely get rid of resentment when it has arisen toward anyone.

Resentment is a common challenge in long-term relationships with asymmetric expectations. And promiscuity attempts to bypass resentment by lowering expectations (i.e., one-night stand). With promiscuity, relationships devolve to “goats and sheep, chickens and pigs, and dogs and jackals.” Nothing more is expected than a quick gratification. Last month’s one-night stand partner would not drive you to the airport if you asked. Indeed, they might resent it if you asked since it would not serve any of their needs or desires.

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What exactly do you both mean by “resentment”?

In the context of this discussion, anger, dislike, not being satisfied specifically because of or in relation to other partners one or more of my partners has. Like being mad that partner A is also seeing partner C. Irritation at the arrangement of the relationship and a wish for it to be different.

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Please be mindful when the discussion veers away from what the Buddha said and towards current views :pray:


Thank you for explaining and clarifying. Makes sense.

Is this attempt to address this problem in accordance with the Dhamma-Vinaya though?
Pop culture usage of eastern philosophies about living in the moment certainly seems to lend itself to such an interpretation.

According to Buddhism, is such “anger, dislike, dissatisfaction, or resentment” contrary to the Dhamma-Vinaya (DV)?
I don’t remember anywhere in DV where any form of anger is every condoned anywhere.

That being said, the poly-community’s understanding of resentment seems to suggest that “those who are less resentful for their partners being sexually involved with other beings” to be more in accordance with Dhamma-Vinaya or “better” or “more evolved or enlightened” than “those who are more resentful for their partners being sexually involved with other beings” - in some sense, it seems to imply that polyamory is more in accordance with the Dhamma than say monogamy.

It seems to me that neither are inherently better or worse than the other (harmful sexual actions seem to be harmful no matter what, regardless of whether in a poly- or mono-gamous relationship).

That being said, the monastic ideal of zero partners seems closer to monogamy that polygamy, perhaps at least partly for the reason that you mentioned before (“However, poly relationships take up an incredible amount of time and mental energy that you can certainly spend doing more productive things.”).

It seems like King Bimbisara and Pasenadi had multiple wives, whereas Siddhartha had only one wife.

Aside from this reference to promiscuity, are there any other discourses that directly address promiscuity?

SuttaCentral search provides this answer.


Seems like you rightly identified what seems to be the only reference to promiscuity in the Dhamma-Vinaya.

Well-done and thank you! :pray: :slightly_smiling_face: