Until recently, the only kind of relationship that was given any respect was monogamy: get married, have kids, stay with the person you married until you die, and don’t mess around having affairs. In reality, although many people still get married and have kids, most of them are getting divorced and re-married. That’s called serial monogamy: having one lover, breaking up, getting another one, breaking up, getting another one, and so on. The truth is many couples are not monogamous; that is, they are not being ‘faithful’ to each other — one or other of them (usually the man) is having affairs on the side. Sadly, it’s usually done secretively. A couple who consciously decide to have an open relationship are considered polyamorous (the word polygamous would seem a more sensible choice since it relates directly to the word monogamous, but it’s been co-opted to describe a Mormon lifestyle where men have more than one wife).
Many couples in an established relationship choose to see that relationship as primary, because they will prioritize that partner, seeing that as long term and considering themselves less committed to other lovers. They may set rules: if X and Y regard themselves as primary, and then X wants to take another lover, maybe they agree that s/he can’t do so until s/he has spoken about it with Y, that s/he may not bring the new lover to their shared home, that s/he see her/him no more than a certain number of days a week, that she may only use safer sex methods, and so on. There are a million permutations to this, but they all depend on good communication. The biggest problem is often a person’s inability to be clear about what s/he needs in order to feel secure. Insecurity is the basis of most forms of jealousy, and it’s vital to address it early on, rather than let it fester. Polyamory support groups, which exist in many major cities in the US, can help enormously, since just about everyone has experienced insecurity to some degree, and everyone has different ways of dealing with it. Just being able to talk about it is huge.
Another form of polyamory is where one or both halves of an established couple have very casual lovers that they only meet in certain situations, like sex parties. This can work well when one half of the couple has a higher sex drive but doesn’t want anything serious with someone other than her/his primary partner. At the other extreme is a couple who takes on a third lover, and all live together or in close proximity. It may be that one half of the original couple isn’t sexual with the third person, but it’s usually important that they get along well. And then of course, a fourth person could enter the equation, or a fifth or sixth, and so on. And, there are plenty of people who want to have sex and still remain single. Perhaps they just don’t want all the expectations and obligations that come with a committed Relationship.
If you want to be monogamous, more power to you. Just know that there is absolutely nothing wrong with choosing a different model.
Mikaya Heart is an award winning author and a coach in the art of being fully alive. Her latest book is The Ultimate Guide to Orgasm for Women. Visit Mikaya – www.mikayaheart.org
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- What are People’s Perceptions of Open Relationships? (psychologytoday.com)
- Are ‘Open’ Relationships Also More Open to Communication, Trust? (atlantablackstar.com)
- New Project: Polyamory on Purpose (jessicaburdesblog.wordpress.com)
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