I Believe Ethical Non-Monogamy Is More Productive Than Monogamy, and This Is Why.
I Believe Ethical Non-Monogamy Is More Productive Than Monogamy.
Before I get started, the title of this article might have some of you scratching your heads.
What is Rosie going on about now? Ethical non-monogamy, more productive, what?
But bear with me; it does make sense, I promise, and even if you don’t fully agree with me (this is another controversial topic, my friends), I hope that by the time you have read this article, you will be at least see the point I am making, and maybe, just maybe, you will think she might be onto something.
So, how did this article or this thinking come to fruition?
First, we need to talk about religion, specifically Monotheistic religion. Monotheism is a religion or belief system that revolves around a single God. Monotheists believe this omnipotent, omniscient figure is the creative source for everything, thus providing the believer with all the answers they need.
The monotheistic religions include the world’s largest religions: Christianity, Judaism, Islam, and Sikhism. Now, this post isn’t about swinging and faith (I’m not ready to tread there yet); instead, I am simply using the structure of Monotheistic religions as a comparison.
This article has nothing to do with whether God approves of ethical non-monogamy. I am merely using it as an example.
The belief behind Monotheistic religions is that, in effect, there is one God who provides all the answers. Now I’m not an expert on religions, but one that I do know a ‘socially acceptable’ bit about is Christianity. And if you are familiar with Christianity, you will know that within this religion, there is one God, the big G.O.D, who provides for you all the answers.
Think about it for a minute.
Who created the world? God.
Who gave us food to eat and animals to farm? God.
Who loves you more than you ever thought possible? God.
Who do you turn to in times of difficulty, hardship and struggle? God.
Monotheism, in effect, provides you with all the answers, so you don’t have to seek them elsewhere (hmm, sounds familiar).
And this is not useful (so I believe).
We all know that saying ‘putting all your eggs in one basket’ well, I believe that with monotheism, that is exactly what you are doing. You don’t need to ask any more questions, as you have all the answers in front of you; if in doubt, ask God.
Within this type of religious structure, it appears there is no room for ‘what-ifs maybes, but I don’t subscribe to that’ because, essentially, there is no wriggle room. After all, if the answer is right in front of you, why would you need to question it?
Now let’s look at monogamy.
Before I get started, it’s not that I am against monogamy (or Christianity, for that matter) I’m not. And whilst it’s not a relationship dynamic that I subscribe to, I have lived monogamously for periods of time and do see how useful a tool it can be. I’ll shed more insight on this later.
So why am I comparing monogamy to Monotheistic religion? Well, both are centred around the idea that one person, belief, set of ideas or dynamic can provide you with all the answers. Thus, eliminating the need to seek them elsewhere. And this, my friends, is where monogamy stops being productive.
Within traditionally monogamous relationships, there is very little wriggle room.
Let’s look at what expectations are placed on people who practice monogamy; this applies regardless of gender or sexuality.
Each person is expected to support their partner emotionally, physically, romantically, sexually, and mentally, contribute financially, and sometimes provide offspring and raise them. Within a monogamous relationship, you are expected to ‘forsake all others; and be devoted to your one person (something you can still do while practising ENM, by the way) in sickness and health, forever and ever…bla bla… ok.
That’s an awful lot to place on one person.
To expect them to fulfil every desire we have, or forgo their own desires to keep the peace, tick every box, be on board with everything we want to do, or not do, and be entirely 100% focussed on each other, with no room for discussion.
And for some people, this works. And thats OK, but for many, it doesn’t. Because, let’s be honest, if it did, people wouldn’t cheat on each other, But the thing is, within traditionally monogamous relationships, there is very little wriggle room.
When we decide to be monogamous, we are, in my belief, hugely limiting our experiences. Monogamy can place relationships under so much unnatural strain.
I believe you can run the risk of never really fulfilling your desires; this can be out of fear of rejection or fear of creating upset within your relationship. You can also be guilty of ‘self coercion’- signing yourself up for something you may not be on board with simply because there are no other answers.
Let’s look at a very real example.
Meet Steve. Steve was married to Jen for 20 years. They had three kids; they lived in an affluent part of West London and lived a pretty comfortable life. Expensive holidays and nice cars; life was pretty peachy. Like so many of us, Steve and Jen subscribed to society’s dream: monogamous marriage, commitment, and family. And that’s fine; it did what it said on the tin for a while.
Only there was a problem.
Steve was bisexual. And he had been his whole life. But he was married to Jen, who had no idea that Steve was not the straight man she believed him to be. Now you could argue that why didn’t Steve tell her? Well, we both know that having this type of conversation, especially one centred around male bisexuality, isn’t exactly an easy topic to discuss. In the past, Steve had tried to have conversations surrounding intimacy and exploration (not even in an ENM capacity), and it had not gone down well.
Jen, like many monogamous people, had been confused as to why he might want to ‘explore’ other ways of enjoying sex. Did she not satisfy him? Did she not give him what he wanted? Was she not enough for him?
No. Sorry to break it to you, Jen. You see, as well as being Bisexual, Steve also was quite submissive and longed to be at the mercy of a dominant woman.
Was Jen willing to do this?
What she did instead was brandish him as a pervert and state that ‘real men are not into this’.
Now it could sound to you like I am judging and criticising Jen, but I’m not; in fact, I have quite a lot of sympathy for her. Because I think we have all been in her shoes. After all, she, like so many of us, had been raised to believe that monogamy was the only way to be and that monogamy would provide you with all the answers.
There’s no way on earth that Jen could give Steve what he wanted to experience; she didn’t have the tackle.
Sadly, monogamy, although it provided Steve and Jen with three lovely kids, a large detached house and a comfortable life, also caused Steve to explore elsewhere.
You see, this is my point. Monogamy does not allow us to flourish as human beings. Because ultimately, if your partner says no, that’s it. If you try to persuade them otherwise, you risk being called coercive. If you express your desires and they don’t like it, don’t agree with it, or are not curious about it, you run the risk of being judged, or it creates resentment.
Have you ever heard ‘You obviously don’t love me enough if you would like to explore xyz’
But it’s not about love. It’s not about how much you love your partner and not in any way about them not living up to your expectations. There’s no way on earth that Jen could give Steve what he wanted to experience; she didn’t have the tackle.
And if she had no desire to be dominant with him, that’s fine, but her being hostile to the point of dismissive about his desires, for me, is something that could easily be rectified.
Here’s how. Let’s say that Jen did listen to Steve when he said he had a fantasy about being dominated. Let's pretend she showed compassion when he opened up to her and thanked him for being so honest with her. From this point, they could have agreed that Steve could seek out a pro domme, who would form no emotional attachment to Steve and would be happy to facilitate his fantasies.
If they had been able to do this, then everyone would have benefitted. Jen would get what she wanted; middle-class monogamy. Steve would get what he wanted; being used like a service slu7. And the pro-Domme, she would have been £200 better off and have a happy client.
But, and here’s the sad thing, because they had both subscribed to the monogamous way of life, there was no compromise.
Because monogamy, like monotheism, provides all the answers, right?
If you subscribe to the idea like many people do that one person can provide us with every little bit of sexual satisfaction, fulfil every fantasy and be down for every desire we have, then I’m sorry, but you are doing yourself a massive injustice.
And we do this to ourselves all in the name of a relationship type constructed not to benefit the individuals but rather the society in which we live. No one questions monogamy as it is seen as the ‘accepted dynamic’.
But monogamy can be useful.
After reading this, you probably think that I am 100% against monogamy. The truth is, I’m not. I do see its value. Monogamy is great for raising offspring and creating a family unit. But after that, I see a limited benefit. After all, you can still have all of the emotional exclusivity you get with monogamy whilst also enjoying an Ethically non-monogamous relationship. I.e swingers.
There have been times that I have been monogamous within Ethically non-monogamous relationships as I/ we haven’t had the time to explore swinger clubs and parties and have put swinger life on hold for one reason or another.
When you practice ethical non-monogamy, I believe you see your relationship not as a one size fits all solution but rather as a malleable partnership with its roots firmly bedded in. And, even if the branches spread out, the trunk remains strong, supporting both branches as they continue to grow upwards.
You are essentially taking the pressure off your partner whilst continuing to support them. You begin to see them not as ‘the relationship’ but as an individual with their own needs.
You don’t expect them to have all the answers, and accept that you probably won’t have all the answers either.
But what you do have is the ability to explore and grow, and that is why I Believe Ethical Non-Monogamy Is More Productive Than Monogamy.