When I started working as a sex and relationship therapist about 15 years ago, the idea of open relationships was something my clients brought up every six months. These days, the question of whether consensual monogamy will be discovered arises almost weekly.
Consensual monogamy is an umbrella term we use to describe a variety of open relationship structures. Whatever structure a couple chooses, one thing is clear – the couple mutually agree to open and honest communication. This is no lies, no secrets, no sneaking, and of course… no cheating.
Many couples assume they are in monogamous relationships, but the cold truth is that cheating or cheating is more common than we’d like to admit. In the past, men cheated more. This was mainly because men worked outside the home and had more opportunities to linger. These days, however, with more women working outside of the home and how easy the internet has made meeting potential partners, both men and women are finding themselves tempted to arrange a secret date.
Cheating is more complicated than many people think. Despite still claiming to have feelings of love and devotion towards their primary partner, it’s hard to understand how someone could do such a thing. This begs the question: Maybe we’re not meant to be monogamous?
This is the question Timothy and Rose wanted to explore as part of their marriage therapy. They were happily married for 18 years and had a 14-year-old daughter. Despite living a mutually satisfying sex life, they both felt something was missing. They recently watched a TV show showing a couple going to an orgy, and although things went horribly wrong on the show, it sparked a conversation between them. Could they have sex with others without getting jealous, betrayed, or breaking their marriage?
“Let’s start with the cause,” I told them. “It’s always good to be very clear about your motivation.”
Rose started. “We got married pretty young and neither of us had much sexual experience before we bonded. I think we can agree that there is a part of us that wonders what it’s like to have sex with other people at this stage in life. I was very young doing experiments before I met Tim. I didn’t know my body. I did not know how to express my desires. Tim was incredible and I’ve grown a lot with him over the years. I think he would have said the same about me. But after seeing that TV show, I couldn’t stop dreaming. When I confessed my thoughts to Tim, he surprised me by admitting that he had the same curiosity at times.”
“I’m not going to lie,” Tim said. “It’s painful for me to imagine Rose with someone else. I’m sure I won’t be able to watch her like the TV couple at an orgy. But what I do know is that I will never cheat on Rose and I know she will never cheat on me. If this is something we’re going to discover, we want to go the right way. About that We’re here to get some information to see if there’s anything we need to keep talking about.”
“Well,” I told them, “I commend you for being so mature about it. It can be difficult to have these conversations, but you’re already clear about your commitment to each other. You can communicate effectively and that’s half the battle.”
“Does this really work for humans?” Rose asked.
“For some it is, not for others,” I told them. “Until recently, we didn’t have much research examining the effect of not being monogamous on marital happiness. However, some interesting studies have emerged recently. According to open relationship researcher and therapist Martha Kauppi, “love and libido” podcast, small recently to work stated that open relationships may not have a negative impact on relationships and may increase sexual satisfaction between the primary couple. Many people find that they have experienced something called the end. forceIt’s the heartfelt joy of knowing that your partner is experiencing pleasure even if it doesn’t involve them. Of course there are others who find they are wildly jealous and possessive.”
“So what should I do? joyful Think, doctor? Should people be monogamous?” he asked.
“I wish I had a clear answer,” I said. “It’s complex and science is complicated. We know that there is tremendous variation in people’s gender identity, expression and sexual orientation, and I think there is also variation in how people choose to relate. Some social scientists and anthropologists argue that as humans evolved from nomadic living to farming, monogamy became a socioeconomic arrangement between couples. Women needed resources from men, and men needed to make sure that the children they were funding were theirs. Now that women can provide their own resources and men can request paternity testing to confirm their offspring, we don’t really need this regulation.
“Other studies They suggest that people depend on having a double bond and falling in love, one person at a time. But we all know that the honeymoon period is finally over. This leads some scientists to argue that perhaps we are designed to be serial monogamists. Also, there is some species in the animal kingdom, which maintain monogamous relationships throughout their lives.
“I personally believe that some people are not designed to have monogamous relationships, while others feel completely satisfied with one partner their entire life – and it stays somewhere in between.”
“Interesting,” said Rose. “So how do we determine what might work for us, or even start experimenting with it?”
“I think it’s important to first determine what type of non-monogamous relationship structure you are happy with. As with anything, when it comes to sex, there’s a whole lot going on. Options. There is polyamory, which are romantic and sexual relationships that continue simultaneously, sometimes separate from and other times involving the primary partner; shaking, often described by couples who have sex with other couples; and open relationships where sex with other people is allowed and not considered cheating are just a few of them. You may spend some time exploring these options, but the key to running any open relationship is open and honest communication. You may also find that you need to set limits as you explore.”
Tim and Rose decided to start a trial period for an open relationship. They set boundaries, including using it all the time. sexual protectionThey never shared their home addresses with people they were attached to, and they checked each other weekly to make sure they were both emotionally and well as a couple.
Every couple’s story is different. Tim and Rose discovered that a few casual get-togethers made their sex with each other even better. It seemed to make up for what was missing. But after several months of research, they decided to return to monogamy. Who knows if they’ll choose to turn things back on in the future, but they left therapy feeling informed, empowered, and equipped with the tools to make changes when they needed to.