What type of monogamy do you want?
by Steve Sweeney
At last, you have met someone special.
You’re feeling intimate, connected, sexually charged, excited and just cannot wait to get back in the sack and feel them again. Gaze into their eyes and experience once again that intoxicating, addictive mix that can only come from being with your new lover.
Time goes on and now you spend more time together, getting closer and deeper, it’s just what you have been seeking for so long now. As the relationship develops there are adjustments, compromises and decisions to negotiate.
This is a time where it is tempting to hold back and not be entirely truthful about what we really want, as we can feel like we run the risk of losing who we have just found. Or in having the passion and intensity diluted and diminished with disappointment, or unmet expectations.
It’s so easy to compromise yourself at this stage of a new relationship, and once done there can be hell to pay to change these decisions further down the track. Apart from the compromises, just how many of these negotiations and decisions are based on assumptions and unexpressed expectations?
Take the foundational concept of monogamy for example. It means the same for all of us - doesn't it?
You’re mine and I’m yours - we don’t have sex with anyone else - nothing could be simpler. But is it?
In my work with individuals and couples over many years, it is clear there is a range of very different ideas coupled with quite a large spectrum of varied sexual and relational behaviour, that is labelled ‘monogamy’.
And many, if not all of us, assume and expect that our partner has the same definition of monogamy as ourselves. An assumption, that can be the cause of much; hurt, disappointment, frustration, dismay and sometimes betrayal.
This range of ideas and behaviours seems to begin at one end, where a couple, or at least the dominant partner’s concept of monogamy, is restricted to mean they only spend time with each other and are definitely not allowed to look at another person - without causing great angst, fear or conflict within the partnership.
While another couple’s concept of monogamy, not only includes being able to appreciate attractive members of the opposite (or same) sex, but potentially the active pursuit of them as potential partners - in ménage a trios, or two couples exploring sexuality & pleasure together.
Further out on the edge of this spectrum, a couple may decide to have; a lover on the side, attend swingers parties, invite a sex worker, sexuality teacher, or tantric practitioner into the relationship – while still considering themselves to be in a monogamous, committed relationship.
There are many more variations to this spectrum. Yet the question is ‘Where are you on this spectrum of various behaviours and expression, that constitutes monogamy?
And maybe more importantly, where do you want to be?
These are important foundational questions to bring into honest and open consideration with your current, or prospective partner. Although challenging and definitely scary for many – having the safety within the relationship to consider these questions, gives permission for each partner to take more of a risk being authentic in expressing their sexual desires within the bounds of the relationship.
This in turn has the potential to deepen the trust, love, intimacy and bonding between you. Honouring the vulnerability experienced in expressing the depth and breadth of your authentic sexual desire, and what it is that constitutes monogamy for you.
So the next time you find yourself intoxicated with lust filled, starry eyed wonder with a new lover, that has the potential to evolve into a committed relationship. Create the safe non-judgmental space to engage in a mature ongoing, and possibly shifting conversation, about what defines monogamy for each of you. And what would it look like if you both entered into a long term, committed, relationship?
Philip Millroy is an Awakening Within relationship/sexuality coach & educator based on the Sunshine Coast. He is also a qualified and experienced body worker, reiki master, cuddle party facilitator and speaker/trainer.