Episode 77: Making the Leap

If non-monogamy is a no go, should you say goodbye to a five year relationship on a hunch?

That’s what’s on this week’s episode of Non-Monogamy Help.

Discussion Topic:

When was the first moment you sort of recognised that you might be polyamorous or interested in non-monogamy?

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Thank you to Chris Albery-Jones at albery-jones.com for the theme music and a big thanks for the podcast art to Dom Duong at domduong.com.

Podcast transcript

I am a male and have been dating my fiancé for 5 and a half years now. We are in a monogamous relationship but I have done my fair share of cheating as well. We have talked about my cheating and are working through it with each other. I have also been going through lots of therapy to better understand myself. Through this process I have come to the conclusion that I am non-monogamous and was seeking something more (which I am still working though) that I wasn’t getting sexually from my partner.

The thing is I deeply care for her and love her. I am having trouble deciding if it would be best for both of us if we break up or if I am willing or even able to stay faithful in a monogamous relationship with her. I am doing so now fine but that doesn't mean it won't change in the future. I want to mention as well that I have opened up to her as there being a thought of me not being monogamous and her response coincides with her not being okay with that.

I also want to mention that when I was cheating I did experience a decent amount of anxiety doing so and received no satisfaction in the secrecy of it all, in fact the idea of being open more is a turn on for me. I've mentioned that I wouldn't mind if she was with other people as long as she told me. But she has expressed no interest in doing so. If you have any advice or thoughts on this, I would love to hear it.


Basically I think that it is better for you to break up. And I say that for two reasons.

I don't necessarily think that cheating means that you're non-monogamous. Because if you— it's hard to say. You say that you are not getting— you want more than you're getting sexually from your partner so I don't know if that means that you have an expectation that you will always have the same type of libido as your partner which I don't think is a realistic expectation. I don't know if that means that your partner is unwilling to try things that you want to try. I don't know if that means that your partner is not interested in the same things like you could be interested in monogamy, and be monogamous, and just, you know, not be sexually compatible with this person.

Or you could be non monogamous and for you part of the appeal of being non-monogamous is the sexual variety that you can have with other partners. So either way, it doesn't necessarily bode well for this relationship. I would be more interested to see how— if that's changed in five years because I do really, really think that there are some times when I see people who are super interested in non-monogamy or— they sort of have this false expectation of the way that monogamous relationships should be.

So they're very influenced by the idea that things should always be dramatic. That the new relationship energy that you feel with someone when you're new to each other should continue, because you've been together for five years. And it is quite normal, in a monogamous relationship and I don't think that is abnormal in polyamorous relationships either for you to have a kind of big burst at the beginning and to be kind of in that honeymoon phase and then for things too low a bit or kind of have an up and down. That is pretty normal.

I do think that it's not a bad thing for people to want to have non-monogamy because they can then meet new people, have that new relationship energy, and then it's not such a big deal if that relationship ends, or they decide to go see someone else new. They can kind of have that continuous supply of new and exciting bubbly thing. I don't think that's necessarily a bad thing.

But I do think that sometimes people just put a little bit of an unrealistic expectation, especially if you're with someone for a long time, especially if you live together, it is quite normal — even if you are polyamorous— I think it is quite normal for there to be lulls and peaks and troughs in libidos peaks and troughs and sexual experience.

And I also think that, you have to put effort into it and I think that that is another thing that people kind of unrealistically expect in monogamy is that sex is just gonna just happen and be, you know, always fun and spontaneous and that you don't have to put any effort into it and that you should both just effortlessly just be into each other all the time because that is kind of how it is when it starts out.

You kind of are that way because you're in an exciting honeymoon phase. It is something that you have to work on. And so I think that if you are having this expectation in your relationship that it should always be exciting and fun and new, and it's not and so you're seeking more exciting and fun and newness, I don't necessarily know as that non-monogamy is going to always cure that.

Because you may end up just kind of bouncing around and being that comet partner as it's called, for some people, where you come into their lives and then you leave. But, you know, that is what that is. And if you have that expectation and understand your needs and you understand you like that new relationship energy, and you don't mind that, then that is one thing.

But if you are deciding that this specific relationship isn't for you because it's changed or because you don't have the same libidos which isn't going to necessarily be any truer for you if you're polyamorous, then that might become still a problem for you in polyamory. So it's worth thinking about what your expectations are of this relationship. Are your expectations of your relationship that you expect sex to just happened spontaneously and for there to be no effort put into it, what kind of efforts have you put in.

Because like the cheating thing is rough, and that's difficult. That creates a barrier between you and your partner and erodes trust and makes it harder to for them to want to sleep with you. So is that kind of part of the problem here? So how much have you unpacked about that? How much have you thought about that? What reasons do you have for seeking other— is it about the variety of sexual experiences? Are you interested in that aspect?

Because the thing that I always kind of say and that I think people make this mistake a lot: Polyamory isn't necessarily about finding multiple unfulfilling relationships until you reach a level of permissible statsis. So you're not trying to basically go, “Okay well this relationship is kind of works, this kind of works, and I'll put together and form like a Franken-relationship”. That's not necessarily what it's supposed to be about. You shouldn't stay with people who aren't fulfilling and it's not to say that one person should necessarily be completely and utterly perfect for you or anything like that, but that doesn't also mean that you stay in a relationship that doesn't work.

So, yeah, it's complicated. I do kind of wonder though and the reason why I said break up initially is that if you're not sexually compatible with each other, then  that is an issue and would be an issue regardless. And even if you were to be able to be non-monogamous and not cheat, that isn't going to take away from the fact that you don't feel like this is working for you and it's not selfish or a bad thing to want to have sexual fulfilment in a relationship. It's just about what it is behind that.

Because the thing of it is, is that you could break up with her, you could go into a polyamorous relationship with somebody, maybe end up living with them, and if your expectation about how sex works in a long term relationship is that it's always going to be fun new and exciting and bubbly, you're probably going to find that same sort of lull in a polyamorous relationship. Being polyamorous doesn't inherently mean you have a higher libido. It doesn't necessarily mean that you're interested in more things. It doesn't necessarily mean that you are more adventurous.

Sometimes that coincides just because polyamory obviously isn't considered by most cultures to be a automatic choice or something that people even consider without going through other communities like the sex positive community, but it doesn't mean inherently that someone is necessarily more sexually adventurous. There are lots of ace polyamory people. I am somewhat on the ace spectrum. I don't necessarily enjoy dating. I don't necessarily have any interest in huge sexual variety. That's not at all what I'm interested in. So, yeah, I think you're probably sexually incompatible.

And my initial instinct is to not force yourself into monogamy and it is to kind of think about breaking up, or think about separating, Especially since she's very, very clear that she does not want to try it. And that's fine. She's allowed to have that. She's allowed to feel that way and I do not think you should convince her. But I think it's worth having a little bit of self-examination if you haven't already about what your expectations are.

What is it about the variety that is interesting? Is it the new relationship energy? Is it that excitingness, the bubbliness? Because if you go into polyamory with that expectation still I think you're still going to have problems. Luckily in polyamory, you will be able to sleep with other people as long as it's informed, but you're still going to have that problem if you expect everything to kind of be explosive, if that makes sense. So yeah, I hope that helps. Good luck.

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