I’m in a happy, secure, loving relationship. It’s a lot like other relationships in many ways. It’s different to other relationships in many ways. Like the fact we’re allowed to smile at, dance with and kiss other people. Technically we’re in a non-monogamous relationship. I think it’s time to talk about these.
What is non-monogamy? It comes in many forms really: Group sex, polyamory, casual relationships. As a student, it’s likely you’ll have been in a non-monogamous relationship. It’s not likely that you’ll have discussed it however. Non-monogamy is seen as dirty; the preserve of strange, redneck Americans and creepy older men. In reality it is often as romantic, as loving and as intimate as most monogamous relationships, just with different parameters.
And why? Because we’re spoon-fed monogamy by the media. It’s all around us. To be in a non-monogamous relationship breaks sexual codes and shakes up the way society runs. It’s an abrasive, intrusive, two fingers up to the way things are ‘supposed to be.’ I for one believe that’s a good thing. When it comes to society, non-monogamy questions ‘family values.’ It goes against the idea that one mother and one father is the healthiest way to raise a child. It opens the doorway to multi-parent relationships, which are often intellectually, emotionally and economically better for both the carers and the child. It says ‘hold on a minute’ when people presuppose that married couples deserve benefits such as tax breaks. It allows for the idea of a more versatile, adaptable society which isn’t contained to a heterosexual, idealised family unit.
On a more intimate level, non-monogamy has equal benefits. Sexually, it allows for couples to explore themselves and their relationship through the likes of threesomes, group sex or swinging. Romantically, it allows for a deeper level of trust and discussion within a couple. There is no longer a gaping silence when it comes to what your relationship means to you – you can set boundaries that you both are happy with, and stick to those. With 44% of couples now regularly checking each other’s texts, 1 in 3 marriages ending in divorce and infidelity on the rise, perhaps it is time to ask – Is the person you love the only person you lust for? Probably not.
Love goes beyond the sheets. It spreads itself out and allows you to enter into a deeper relationship with your significant others, or others. It does not occur as soon as you sleep with someone. It does not suddenly burst into life from a kiss. It does not mean you will leave the person you care about deeply because you want to lick someone’s something. Rather, it means you want to be with that person, or those people, even if others are available to you. You can be in love with one person, while sleeping with numerous others. You can be in love with two people while sleeping with just one of them. People imagine cheating to be a sexual act, but considering the complexity of a relationship, the emotional side if often forgotten. And that’s often the most brutal side of infidelity, the fact that your partner has decided not to share their true feelings with you, but instead leave you with feelings of confusion and, too often, guilty – all because they were too scared to come clean before anything happened.
We need to reconsider the possibilities of a relationship beyond the unnatural ‘family’ which has been forced upon us for various reasons. We need to look at what non-monogamy could do for us and for our children. We need to open up to the idea that, actually, your husband can love you and only you, but enjoy a night of passion with another women. For myself and my partner, this means that we are able to get with other people for now. If at some point this dynamic changes, perhaps it will mean something different for our relationship: a threesome, an open relationship, stricter monogamy. Who knows? What I am happy with however is that my partner and I are able to communicate about such possibilities, and aren’t crushed by the nagging weight of the relationship we’re supposed to have.