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Top 10 Reasons for Being – and Staying – Non-Monogamous

Wed, Oct 20, 2010

Advice, How To



The other week, we ran a lighthearted post called “Top 10 Reasons for Being – and Staying – Monogamous” (which we reposted this morning) as encouragement for those people who choose to be in exclusive, long-term relationships. Some of you took it as an indictment of non-monogamy, which wasn’t our intention at all. (See the comments section of that post for the criticisms and our defense.) To prove it to you, we worked with Dan, one of our most critical commenters, who came up with many good points (10 in fact!) in favor of the other side of this relationship coin (even though he himself is currently in a monogamous relationship). Both monogamy and non-monogamy have their pros and cons; in both the previous post and the one below, we’ve tried to focus on the pros. Neither is an attempt at telling you how to be, but rather an encouragement of who you are and how you choose to be.

Monogamy has had its turn, so let’s give non-monogamy a chance. In a culture dominated by fundamentalist religious values, it’s easy to be overwhelmed by the chorus of slut-shaming that arises when the topic of simultaneous multiple partners comes up. But polyamory has its privileges. Here are 10 reasons why responsible non-monogamy might work for you.

  1. It’s natural. Check out the book “Sex at Dawn: The Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality” by Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jethá. Monogamy didn’t arise until fairly late in human history, with the notion that wives and children were the property of the husband.
  2. Our culture is awash in it. The fact that terms like divorce, cheating, adultery, infidelity, slut, player, etc and industries like prostitution and pornography exist at all is a testament to the fact that sexual variety is a basic human need for many people.
  3. It takes a village. Families can reap significant benefits from sharing the all-consuming workload of parenting among a number of loving, devoted adults. Wouldn’t it be nice, when you’re exhausted and drained, or have no clue how to deal with a particular crisis, for there to be more than one other person in the house who can help?
  4. Variety can be hot. C’mon, ‘fess up: Don’t you sometimes fantasize about someone else, even if you’re committed to someone you love dearly? National newsmakers are telling us that fantasies (and masturbation) are the same as adultery. Wouldn’t it be better to be in a relationship where the way you are is OK and you didn’t have to hide it from your partner?
  5. Jealousy and possessiveness can be toxic emotions. Committed relationships are best when we take the risk to be intimate and vulnerable. But there is no requirement to hand over to any other person the power to completely devastate us if they have a fling with another lover. Allowed to run rampant, jealousy and possessiveness lead to emotional and physical abuse, and sometimes even murder. If jealousy is tearing you apart, it’s a mental health issue and therapy could probably do some good.
  6. Human (especially women’s) sexual orientation is fluid. If you get deep satisfaction from shared loving with more than one gender, lifelong monogamy would have you pick one and forever abandon any others. Non-monogamy doesn’t make you choose.
  7. Tight sexual boundaries lead to profound frustration. If you’re lucky, you grow and change as the years pass. Your sexual needs and wants are part of that very natural process, but there’s no guarantee that they’ll evolve in lockstep with your partner’s. Ask prostitutes how many of their clients come to them asking for things their partners refuse to do for them. With non-monogamy, you don’t have to choose between never getting those needs or wants satisfied and throwing away the entire relationship, just for the freedom to find the kind of sex you want with someone else. You can have those needs satisfied while letting your partner maintain any boundaries he or she feels are essential.
  8. The more the merrier. Some people are turned on by the thought of their lover having sex with another person, and there are, of course, many other fantasies and desires that involve more than one person in the bed at a time. Open relationships allow you the freedom to go there.
  9. Bad things can happen to good people. Disease, accidents, and mental health problems can rob a person of the desire or ability to function sexually. Why condemn their loving partner to a sexless, or dramatically limited, love life from that point forward? Openness and flexibility in the relationship at that point would probably be much better for all involved.
  10. Extra scrabble partners.
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12 Responses to “Top 10 Reasons for Being – and Staying – Non-Monogamous”

  1. Rain Says:

    I hate it when my spouse gets sick or something. I have to contemplate the idea of going outside the marriage to have my needs met. I think it’s very selfish of the sick spouse to expect monogamy. Sometimes I wonder if a non monogamous relationship would have been the best choice for me. I have too much love to share with the world. Why limit myself?

  2. Lexxx Says:

    Rain- you can’t be serious. You sound like a serious d-baggerooni.
    Ever heard of masturbation for those times when your spouse so selfishly ~gets sick~?

  3. Rain Says:

    This article is about the benefits of being and staying in a non monogamous relationship. Didn’t you read it? Duh, of course I masturbate. Clearly, the only way to sustain successful non monogamy is to have sex with other people, and unfortunately that includes those times when the other person is sick. That is just part of life. It’s just selfish and unfair not to think that.

  4. Mandy Says:

    Rain, they mean non-monogamy sans-cheating. Having sex outside your partnership just because your spouse is sick is selfish.
    If you’re always in a non-monogamous relationship it’s better, but if you’re going to whine that your partner is selfish for being sick and not looking after your needs I would hazard a guess that maybe you’re better off single and able to sleep around at anytime.

  5. Scotty Weeks Says:

    Great post! Those are all fantastic points, especially the reference to Sex At Dawn, it’s a great book. Frankly, I think that non-monogamy is the default human behavior and that monogamy is something that we’ve fallen into as a result of the move from hunter-gatherers toward agriculture and land ownership.

    The way the world is now—primarily urban dwelling with knowledge based economies—it makes far more sense to be non-monogamous. I wrote a sort of tongue in cheek blog post about the subject of monogamy: http://blog.heyfoxy.com/posts/fuck-monogamy

  6. Hubby Says:

    Great post. The most important points are that it is natural and that it prevents all sorts of emotional problems.

    It’s not easy to get there from where our society is but I think the level of happiness you can attain is worth the effort.

  7. Hubby Says:

    @Scott Weeks

    I love your post and the one on jealousy. You pretty much said what I trying to say on my blog.. http://www.our-open-relationship.com (can’t even spell my own website.. doh)

  8. Trish Says:

    Funny, when I have had candid conversations with people and I say that I don’t think monogamy is natural, just something we are told is the right thing to do, people think I’m strange. I think they think I’m promiscuous or something. We all like variety. That doesn’t mean we don’t love the one we are with.

  9. EmpressO Says:

    Trish, I get the same thing when I try to argue the benefits as well as the downfall of each side to this coin. Many people are just stuck on man+woman= family. I try to argue that love is love, regardless if it’s 2 men, 2 women, or whatever as long as those involved are happy. I am currently in the beginnings of a poly relationship and it is very interesting. It’s allowed me to come to realization that I’ve always wanted to have another person involved in my relationship. maybe it’s selfish because I just like having my space, I’m not very affectionate so for my partner to have someone else that can make him feel a certain way, all the while giving me the space that I need is great. It’s a win, win, win situation for us all. Thanks for this post, it’s awesome. The hard part is sharing with friends and family. Especially when kids are involved. we’re still working the kinks out.

  10. mike Says:

    agrees

  11. xxxmote.com Says:

    It sounds as natural a process to me as waking up in the morning and using the bathroom.

    Monogamy is a man made concept that all too often causes a strain on relationships between people that forces us to never reveal what our true sexual desires are.

    A woman can be bicurious but too afraid to even mention it to her husband of 10yrs because they are married to the code and typical ethics of monogamy.

    You two are right about just how obvious the need to be sexually free is just by the fact that divorces are real and on the increase like never before, terms like cheating and pre nups are at the forefront of almost any marriage.

    Its all up to what people want and how honest they are with themselves about what they want. Are they going to cloak their genuine sexual feelings for the sake of monogamy or let loose?

    We all like more players at the Scrabble table too Lol.

    Cameron
    xxxmote.com

  12. tommy Says:

    I very much agree with these points i am ok with my sexlife with my wife i love her and i know she loves me and i know it would be right up her ally 2 she would love it, my hold up is i am a kinda jelous person and i consider this because i hope it would take my worries away i know it would help the jelousy issue because i wouldnt have yo worrie about cheeting but on the other hand i might worrie about her leaving me for another man is this a strong possability? Or will it make her want to be with me more because of these freedoms? I also worrie about her not wanting sex with me at all how likely is this to happen? She says she really enjoys sex with me but she wanys it too much and im not down with some of the things she wants to try thats another reason i think this would be better kind of relation for us i could feel better she is totally satisfied with her sex life giveing what i said do you think this is the best way for us a females perspective would be greatly apreciated thank you


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