I suspect the title of this post might raise a few eyebrows. Even though I’ve been in non-monogamous relationships for the past 7 ish years, it’s often not something that comes up in conversation. We’re open about it, but given the contexts most people just assume that we’re monogamous. It’s the default position, especially if you have 2 heterosexual individuals who are married and identify as partners.
It’s interesting how actually prevalent non-monogamy is. Many couples have some sort of “loose” guidelines. For some, it’s just things like flirting, while others may have defined a hierarchical, non-hierarchical, or anarchy relationship model.
There’s something interesting that happens when you embrace non-monogamy. The required extra communication, the ability to talk about thoughts and feelings that are often taboo, having thoughts about someone else, wanting to flirt, feeling joy and excitement from being with others. These are all things that “regular” society says is bad. If you feel these things, then you’re doing relationships wrong. You then feel shame, disgust, or sadness at feeling them. You start to question your current relationship, even if it’s objectively great because well, if you feel those things, then surely something is wrong. This person can’t be “the one” if you have those thoughts or feelings.
It also brings about some introspection with regards to self confidence and jealousy. If you really start to dig down into it, often our thoughts, fears, feelings of jealousy, etc, are products of what we’ve been told are what makes “good” relationships. Clearly if our partner is enjoying being around someone else, that must mean we’re not good enough. Maybe we’re not “enough”, maybe they’ll leave us, maybe they were never that into you. If we examine it, I think we find that many of these are internal problems, problems with our thought patterns. If you truly have a good connection with someone, you should know, understand and be able to talk thru these things.
Many people make analogies to explain it. Just because I usually love vanilla ice cream doesn’t mean I won’t take chocolate once in a while. We can also compare it to our partner playing a video game by themselves or spending time with another partner. Would we be jealous of the video game? I would say no. (I can see someone saying that yes, they could be, and perhaps that is the case, but if so, I’d argue the video game is not the problem. If your relationship is so tenuous that spending time on another activity causes you pain, something deeper is probably wrong.)
If you want to learn more, this intro to polyamory is very interesting. There are also great books on the matter such as: Opening Up (There are also many others).
If you have any questions feel free to post them in the comments or send me a DM.