One-on-one relationships aren’t the golden standard for everyone. Many people gravitate toward a more open style of dating that allows them to be involved with multiple partners. Since monogamy has long been considered the norm, you might have much to consider before exploring new ways of dating.
You’ll have some additional questions to weigh if you’re currently in a monogamous arrangement and desire other partners. It’s helpful to analyze whether the idea of monogamy isn’t working or if it’s specific to your current significant other.
5 Things to Consider if a Monogamous Relationship Isn’t for You
Only you can decide what fits your needs and lifestyle best. However, here are five things to think about if you think monogamy, isn’t your preference.
1. Prioritize Your Sexual Wellness
Your sexual wellness is a huge factor in your overall health, no matter the type of relationship you’re in. Using contraception and screening for sexually transmitted infections are two of the most significant components to keep in mind. Discovering the right birth control plan for your situation gives you more power over your reproductive journey. When you’re in a relationship with multiple partners parenting dynamics aren’t assumed, so pregnancy prevention is an important aspect to consider.
Routine STI testing is crucial for anyone’s sexual well-being, but this is especially true if you sleep with multiple partners. You should make it a habit to ask any new hookups about recent screenings. It’s also recommended to get tested between rendezvous with new partners. Your primary care physician, OBGYN, health departments, and local clinics should all be able to provide testing options and information.
2. Be Open and Honest with Your Partners
While non-monogamy might be growing in popularity, it isn’t the norm for everyone. Be upfront with your potential partners about your specific approach to dating. Disclosure allows them to decide whether this type of partnership is a good fit for them. You should try to bring up the topic early on to see if you all are on the same page. Disclosing that information too late can feel secretive and lead to feelings of betrayal.
If you’re into online dating, consider including the fact you’re non-monogamous on your profiles. Giving this disclaimer before engaging with prospective dates helps weed out those not on board with the relationship dynamic. The information could also attract partners who seek a similar arrangement.
3. Educate Yourself on the Polyamory Space
Since monogamy isn’t your thing, you may find it helpful to educate yourself on the world of polyamory. A polyamorous arrangement is a type of non-monogamy where a person is involved sexually or romantically with multiple partners. Consent is a huge component of this setup. Without the willingness of all partners, you are engaging in non-ethical non-monogamy, more commonly known as cheating.
An estimated 4 to 5% of the U.S. population currently practices polyamory. Unfortunately, a stigma surrounding polyamory still exists, despite the large number of people subscribing to this lifestyle. Most of the judgment is rooted in a misunderstanding of polyamorous relationships. Polyamory looks different for each individual, so take the time to explore the right fit for you.
4. Understand Your Own Needs
A big appeal of non-monogamy is that multiple partners can fulfill your different needs. For example, one person may be a great source of emotional support, while another brings out your fun and carefree side. Understanding your needs also requires the ability to communicate them to others. These open conversations allow your partners to demonstrate how — and if — they will show up for you.
Therapy could be hugely beneficial in helping you dig deep into what you are truly after in a relationship. A mental health professional is an excellent resource for practicing communication and unveiling patterns in your past relationship. Some providers are more knowledgeable about non-monogamy than others, so do some research to find the best match.
5. Accept That Everyone Might Not Understand Your Lifestyle
While non-monogamy might be your version of authentic living, everyone may not understand this way of life. A lot of the judgment is based on ignorance. Decide how comfortable you are educating outsiders on what it is like to veer away from monogamous space. While it isn’t your responsibility to defend your choices, sharing information may be beneficial and eye-opening for others.
Boundaries will be necessary if some people remain committed to misunderstanding your choices. It is worth examining if these individuals actually deserve to have space in your life. You deserve to be surrounded by supportive people who allow you to live in a way aligned with your values. Someone shouldn’t have to live the same way you do to be accepted.
Living Your Most Authentic Life
Despite some societal expectations and common media representation, monogamy will not feel natural to everyone. Partnerships should be molded in whatever way you want as long as the people within them understand the dynamic. Consider adopting a more polyamorous approach if you find it difficult to have all your needs met by one person.
Certain components of non-monogamy might be more challenging to adapt to than others, especially with partners practicing the same lifestyle. If this is your first time dating someone who also dates other people, feelings of jealousy may arise.
Understanding your needs and how to communicate them will make the learning curve simpler. Sometimes discovering what you want begins with learning that you have a choice in the first place. Then, you get to decide what relationship dynamics align with your wants and needs.