Is Monogamy Not Right for You?

Is Monogamy Not Right for You?

This post was contributed by Alexander, a Hotline/loveisrespect advocate

Is monogamy the only “right” way to have a relationship? It can seem that way based on what we might see in the media, our culture or our own families. We live in a society that shows monogamy everywhere and highly values that structure. However, monogamy isn’t the “only” or “right” way; relationships can take many different shapes and forms.

Monogamy is important to some people but not to others. If you’re feeling like monogamy isn’t quite right for you, it can be confusing and stressful trying to figure out the best way to approach a different kind of relationship. We wanted to offer some tips for identifying what you want and bringing up different relationship styles with your current or future partner(s) in a healthy way.

First, Identify What You Want

A relationship can be defined however you want it to be, as long as you and your partner(s) all agree to the boundaries set. First, it’s important to identify what you personally want out of a relationship. Do you want to have one partner you’re emotionally committed to and still engage in sexual activities with others? Do you want to have a relationship where you have multiple partners who are all in the same relationship together? Do you want to have several different relationships going on at the same time? You have the right to decide what’s best for yourself.

Think About How You Want To Communicate

Open and honest communication is important in all relationships, but it can be a little more complex in a non-monogamous relationship. How and what you communicate depend on what each person is comfortable with and the boundaries everyone sets. Do you want to know if your partner(s) are going to date another person or sleep with someone else? Would you prefer not to know who they’re seeing? Do you need a keyword or key phrase to inform your partner(s) if you’re going to be with someone else for the day/evening?  It’s a good idea to think through the boundaries around communication that work for you and address them with your partner(s) ahead of time. Remember, each person might have different boundaries, and boundaries can shift or change over time, so working together to consider how you can make sure everyone is comfortable is important. Also, keep in mind that a key component of healthy communication is trusting your partner(s) fully. If you find you’re unable to trust your partner(s), then maybe the relationship isn’t right for you at this time.

Another essential part of healthy communication is sexual boundaries, including having safe sex. Does everyone want to engage in sexual activities together? Apart? Or a combination of both? However you want the sexual boundaries to work, it’s important to communicate your wants and needs. If at any point in time you feel like your partner(s) are putting you at risk for HIV and/or STIs, then that might be a sign the relationship structure is unhealthy.

How Can I Bring This Up With My Partner?

For a lot of people, it can be really tough to start a conversation about non-monogamy with their partner(s). When talking to your partner(s), it can be helpful to use “I” statements to create room for healthy communication over a difficult subject (for example, “I feel that having a different kind of relationship is best for me right now. I’d like to talk about that with you.”). Some people may need time to think about and process what they just heard. Giving partner(s) space to think about reforming the structure of the relationship is healthy and respectful. If your partner(s) feels like what you want isn’t right for them, then they have every right to voice that feeling and/or choose to leave the relationship.

In the end, it’s important that everyone involved can agree on and honor the boundaries of the relationship, whether it’s monogamous or not. If at any point someone doesn’t agree with the relationship’s boundaries, it might be time to reconsider whether the relationship is a good fit. Keep in mind that it’s not okay to coerce or force someone into any kind of relationship. Every person has the right to decide what kind of relationship works best for them.

Unhealthy Signs To Look Out For

Like all relationships, non-monogamous relationships can become unhealthy or abusive. In a healthy relationship of any kind, all partners should be able to trust one another fully, treat everyone like equals and respect each other. If you feel like one or more partners has more power and control in the relationship, that might be a sign the relationship isn’t healthy. Also, if you find that the boundaries aren’t equal (for example: you can’t have sex with others outside of the relationship but your partner(s) can), then that can also be a sign the relationship is not healthy. For more information on how to identify unhealthy or abusive behaviors, be sure to check out our Power and Control Wheel.

Still unsure about how to approach this subject with your partner(s)? Feel free to to chat live with one of our advocates 24/7. You can also call us at 1-866-331-9474 or text loveis to 22522 at any time!

Comment section

4 replies
  1. Thank you for writing this!! Getting honest information about poly relationships is difficult to come by, and it is especially refreshing to read something that doesn’t condemn the practice.

    1. Hey Kit,

      Thanks so much for your comment, I am happy that you found our article helpful! We believe there are many types of healthy relationships and monogamy, although common in U.S. society, is definitely not right for everyone. Healthy relationships are all about respect, open communication, and trust, so if those aspects are present, then that is what is most important.

      I hope you can continue to enjoy our blog posts, but if something changes and you do need to reach out to us, we are always here 24/7 by phone 1-866-331-9474 or by chat at http://www.loveisrespect.org.

      Take Care!
      Advocate KB

  2. I think its because so many people are not commiting to one person an there is so much fidelity out there. I believe that is why relationships are not like they used to be. There were more respect. Ladies were good wifes, not crazy demanding girlfriends, men were hardworking an respectful, not controlling an self centered. It because when someone feels less commited, its easier for them to disrespect that person, to not give them their full love an attention because they have a back up. Im glad you guys are here to support people in bad relationships, but we shouldnt be encourging others exspecially the youth to have mutiple relationships which will obviously all be mutiple sexual relationships.

    1. Hi Chrissy,

      We appreciate you being a member of our online community and taking the time to share your views. It is incredibly difficult to see people choosing abusive or unhealthy behaviors in their relationships because of the pain and heartbreak those behaviors cause. No matter how someone identifies or what the right type of relationship is for them, everyone deserves to be safe and treated with respect. We recognize that every person has the right to make the choices about their own life, and when it comes to their romantic relationships, partners and sex lives, that can include abstinence, an open relationship, monogamy or polyamory. No one has the right to make choices about your life except for you. Whatever kind of relationship is right for you, it can absolutely be a healthy one built on trust, consent and respect.

      Take care,

      Hotline Advocate AS

Comments are closed.

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