"Ask Professor Foxy: Am I Nonmonogamous?"
A columnist for a top-notch feminist site gives advice for the nonmonogamy-minded:
Q: ...I have been dating my boyfriend for 3 and half years, and for most of that time we've been very happy with an amazing sex life! I've always had trouble when it comes to monogamy, though, and I've had to work very hard to resist the temptation to cheat.... As much as I hate to admit this, I have even reached the point where I slipped up and kissed a guy I met at a party. Because of all this, I have had a really hard time enjoying sex with my boyfriend....
I still really love my boyfriend and we're really happy outside of the bedroom. We have openly talked about these issues. I guess I'm just wondering, if I've always had issues with monogamy, do you think that will ever change?...
A: Nonmonogamous relationships in all their iterations (more about this in a minute) are just as valid and functional and workable as monogamous ones. The media and society really only portray monogamous relationships as valid and as soon as one person in a monogamous relationship begins to look at other people (GASP), the relationship is headed for doom. In reality, strong nonmonogamous relationships are much like strong monogamous relationships. The people involved talk about their feelings, their boundaries, and where they want the relationship to go.
It is also important to realize that there is a really wide range of nonmonogamous relationships. Some involve just the occasional kissing outside of the primary relationship, some just sex, and still others are polyamorous (many loves) and involve multiple relationships and lovers.
...Your boyfriend is really trying to accommodate your needs and desires. He gets big points for that.... Since you two are clearly having some good conversations about this situation, why not ask him about the possibility of opening up the relationship a little bit more. Not just for you, but for him as well.
...Start off slow maybe limiting it to kissing strangers at bars. See how that feels for both of you. You may love hooking up with others, but if he is engaging in the same behaviors: how do you handle it? Keep it there for a month or more, then see how it feels to ramping it up a little more: maybe making out without penetration of any sort (no oral, anal or vaginal sex or fingers into orifices).
You should make sure to discuss what I think of as a checklist for nonmonogamy:
1. What time and spaces are just for the two of you? For example, no kissing other people at family functions. Can other lovers come into your bed, or do you have to go to a neutral space?
2. What behaviors are off limit? People in nonmonogamous or polyamorous relationships often reserve certain activities just for the primary relationship. These are not just sexual activities....
3. What people are off limits?...
4. What about sexual safety?... Barrier methods are paramount here.
5. What must you tell other sexual interests? Do you tell other people you hook up with that you have a primary relationship and that needs to be respected?
6. What details do you share with each other?...
7. How do you honor your relationship? This is so, so important. After you hook up with someone else, what do you do to reconnect as a couple? Do you have dinner just the two of you? Do you cuddle for an hour? This step can be the most relevant to keeping your relationship healthy and strong. The other person needs to feel loved and cared for....
Read the whole article (June 13, 2009), and the interesting comments.
My beef is with item 5. Of course you tell the others that you have a primary relationship. Unless you're a scumbag who likes jerking hopeful people around on purpose. Sheesh.
Meanwhile, over on The Frisky, a columnist describes her latest doomed date with the latest unappealing man:
Dealbreaker: The Polyamorous Guy
...We were no more than two minutes into our first drink when he dropped a bomb. “I’m Polyamorous,” he said.
I coughed slightly and rolled my lychee martini around in my mouth, waiting to feel shocked or react at all, but instead I kicked into dating survival mode. “Okay!” I said with genuine enthusiasm as if he had just told me what college he went to....
What she'd rather he'd hid the potential dealbreaker till later? The time to lay it out is up front, I say. Reduces everybody's wasted time and hurt feelings. If anything, he should have told her before they met for drinks.