Posted in Advice, Dating, Friendships

Redefining Monogamy

It seems the new civil rights movement about to get cracking is that of polygamy. I’ve already been seeing reports on the news, and with shows like “Sister Wives,” there’s an emphasis on alternative relationship situations becoming mainstream. Things that were once taboo are not anymore, and the more taboo, the more mainstream it seems to be becoming.

*Warning: this will be a post with Adult themes!*

the power struggle

Take BDSM, for example. Thanks to the Fifty Shades debacle, housewives everywhere think they’re ready to jump right into the BDSM world, but they don’t know the first thing about what that entails: the trust required, the safe words, the actual pain that is mixed in with the pleasure. They were turned on by the hideous writing (my favorite review counts the “oh my god’s” and various other repetitive banal phrases) and the happy ending and think they can handle that world.

Take it from me, after watching an episode of Mr. Robot (definitely worth the watch, by the way) with my mother, a scene in which our most visible villain uses the red ties to tie down his equally sociopathic, pregnant wife and then she tells him he’s not done, at which point he pulls out a ball gag…

After watching that scene, I realized that my sweet innocent mother, who LOVED the Fifty Shades atrocity, really didn’t understand what she had read. She actually said as much. She told me she didn’t understand probably 70% of what she’d read in the books…

Cue awkward conversation where I had to explain to my mother what a ball gag was.

The Try Guys from Buzzfeed illustrated how ill-prepared the general public was for the BDSM life quite well:

Side note: if you’re really interested in a movie that shows a little of the BDSM world, watch Secretary with James Spader and Maggie Gyllenhaal, NOT Fifty Shades of Grey


In fact, if I didn’t know for a fact that the Fifty Shades garbage was a twisted version of Twilight fan fic, I’d be certain that the author stole the idea from the Secretary movie. In fact, James Spader’s character is also named Mr. Grey!

See how quickly my distaste for that book/movie got me off track? *Sigh*

The point was that more and more, non-traditional relationships are showing up in the spotlight.

In the news, there’s been talk of polygamy and polyamory. It seems the uber conservatives were a little right: now that same-sex marriage is legal, other non-traditional marriage practices are looking to be recognized as well.

And I’m not sure exactly where I stand on the issue.


The Libertarian in me says there’s no reason why it can’t be legal. The hopeless romantic in me believes that monogamy should be achieved for a spiritually fulfilling relationship to exist. So this is a post where I’m going to be doing a bit of soul searching about how I feel about it, truthfully.

It’s also come up because it seems to be a deal breaker for a couple people I know. As in, being in a monogamous relationship is unacceptable. And not just male friends of mine feel that way.

A West Coast friend of mine (not Mr. West Coast, just someone else in that realm of the country) is part of a polyamorous constellation. As in she and her husband each have separate lovers, and some of their lovers have lovers of their own, and they all function like a team. Everyone has their part, and offers different things to their various partners, but no one person seems of higher importance than any other.

This is counter to the discussion I had with someone much closer. He said that his wife would come first (he’s not married yet), and that any other lovers would have to understand that his wife came first. The idea being that a spouse is of a higher level of importance than the others, and (in my limited understanding) the others would then be people who would offer some sort of service that the spouse couldn’t or chose not to perform.

sugarbabeThe second scenario seems most like the idea of Negotiated Infidelity, which I think I’ve talked about before, but perhaps not. Five years ago (to the day!), CNN posted an article about a woman in Australia known as the “Sugarbabe” and a book she wrote on the subject.

One of the things she says that really sticks with me is when she says that “Monogamous men are heroes; cheating men are normal.”

But she also says that one of the main reason men cheat is simply because they aren’t getting enough sex at home… And that they still love their wives/partners, but they just aren’t getting what they need.

Personally, I feel like monogamy is the goal. The idea is to find that person who completely makes you feel head over heels. The person you can’t wait to get home and rip their clothes off and have your way with them.


But also that person who you can share quiet nights watching TV, or going to the museum, or to the movies, or a variety of other simple, relaxing, fun to share experiences.


They should be someone you’re completely comfortable telling all your secrets to, and sure, that takes a while to reach that level of comfort, but your partner should be someone whom you’re interested enough in them that you’re willing to do what it takes to get to that point.


Does that mean I’m completely against the idea of negotiated infidelity, the idea of creating rules for cheating so both partners know about the other’s transgressions? No. I’m not against the idea. I dated a bisexual guy once, and it was understood there were just things I could not, and would not do for him. In order to meet those needs, we had to come up with an arrangement, in which I got to meet the person who would provide the type of things he needed that I couldn’t provide.

It worked for a while.

In the end, he couldn’t handle being with someone other than me. He was willing to give up those needs to maintain a relationship with me. Which is what the goal is: find someone who is important enough that they become all you need for your relationship to work.

We didn’t work for an entirely unrelated reason.

But the idea that he was willing to give up those other things for me is sort of what I’m looking for. In his case, I think he would have eventually resented not being able to have those things, at which point we’d have to renegotiate our arrangement… assuming the hurt feelings hadn’t gotten so far out of hand that the relationship was already dead.

So, I think I personally want a new definition for monogamy, so it’s not a bad word anymore.


In my discussion with my male friend for whom Polyamory is a must, I used the term “Emotional Monogamy,” and I think that is the most accurate explanation for what it is I’m looking for. I really wish I could say I coined the term, but it seems it already exists

Emotional monogamy is the feeling of maintaining the relationship no matter what the odds.

Strangely enough, I think this is what the Boy and I have, even though ours is not a romantic relationship. We go way out of our way to maintain a relationship that is often awkward and fraught with communication foibles. We discuss our needs and are currently trying to regain our comfort level with one another in order to give each other what it is we need.

It is probably the reason that every now and then I think the Boy may be interested in something a bit more serious. Not holding my breath, of course, but it sometimes doesn’t make sense that he’s willing to maintain such a difficult relationship with such little reward (not for lack of trying on my part, I assure you).

But that’s not important for this post.

What’s important is that what my friend described about his view of a polyamorous arrangement, where he and his spouse put each other above their other lovers, possibly even sharing them if that was something both parties were interested in, is in line with the emotional monogamy that I think is most important.


To me, it is more important that the emotional needs of the one person chosen to be the spouse (or primary or partner or lifemate, or whatever name you want to call it) come first. There needs to be an agreement that they maintain a monogamy where their emotions are concerned. Sex is separate.

Assuming that both parties feel that way. For some people there is no separating love and sex. It creates miscommunications. A lot.

The Artist wanted to be one of those people who didn’t view love and sex the same way, yet he would try to convince me that ours was a loving relationship in order to try to talk me into sex. Same with Superman.

The miscommunications with the Boy started because I read his actions as coming out of a place of love, because his actions matched what I’d seen and experienced in romantic relationships in the past. As he remembers it, that’s not how it was intended. Though, I think it’s more accurate that he did, at least in the beginning, have romantic intentions, and then thought we were moving too fast, which made him uncomfortable, and thus instead of slowing down, he pulled an all stop.

But now, he and I are working on communication and being there for each other in the way that works for each of us. It requires effort, and compromise, and honesty. All the things that happen in an emotionally monogamous relationship. Except we’re not dating… C’est la vie.

One day I’ll find a man willing to put forth that level of effort that DOES want to date me.



High school teacher by day, relationship/romance blogger by night. Help me add author to the list. Vote for my book idea here:

4 thoughts on “Redefining Monogamy

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