Looking Back: Ethical Non-Monogamy

I’ve been absorbed lately by this idea of writing about basic ideas. Things I would have written about in the past but now pass by because “oh I’ve already written about that.” The weird thing is, things change. I change all the time. So wouldn’t my feelings on these basic ideas change, too?

I remember when I was in an open relationship I had this mentality that I could never be with just one person. It’s not too unbelievable. Our perception of reality is influenced by our current environment, our state of mind. I couldn’t imagine it then. I had a certain drive for exploration, certain needs to be met, certain dissatisfactions. I had spent days researching this idea of monogamy as unnatural and I believed that it would be impossible for me to ever truly give up all the other wonders. (One might say this is a self-fulfilling prophecy.)

There was a brief period upon becoming monogamous again where people were confused. And it’s an interesting transition. I spoke about it a little right when it happened. I remember some wariness. At one point I even said “I’ve forgotten how to be monogamous, are these things OK to do in monogamous relationships?” I was learning how to stumble my way around new boundaries. In truth, we probably all do this, at the start of any new relationship.

I held to the idea of ethical non-monogamy tightly. At some points, it felt borderline religious. My love is a seed, it grows, I grow, exploration, etcetera. This is one thing I have hung onto pretty deeply. In my friendships I’ve found deeper connections. I still recognize (more than in years past) the importance of having friends. Of developing other “relationships” with people in my life. To not remain secluded with only one other person to reach out to.

I also believe that ethical non-monogamy is in many, many cases, a huge relief for people. Whether they are opening their relationship for a threesome, having a night of flirtation, swinging, opening their relationship, or consider themselves poly. Ethical non-monogamy can make relationships stronger. They can make people stronger. They can feel natural and like a breath of fresh air.

And so, too, can monogamy. And this was the mistake I made when I was non-monogamous. I drank. the fucking. kool aid. Because just as monogamy is not the great secret solution to love, neither of non-monogamy. People and relationships are so different, so complex, so evolving in their nature, that there is no one solution that works for everyone.

Being in an open relationship and then transitioning into monogamy has made me more empathetic to people on all points of the spectrum. At the end of the day, relationships all require work, love, and attention.

It is uncertain whether I would ever dip a toe back into the pond. I do know that in this relationship I have felt a desire to move forward more mindfully than in past relationships. To look at my needs and his needs and make sure that those needs are being met. Stealing ideas from both monogamy and ethical non-monogamy has greatly influenced the health of my relationship.

What do you think?

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