Non-Monogamy Raises the Bar


Non-Monogamy Raises the Bar You might think that being non-monogamous would open up my options in terms of partners; that I wouldn’t have to be so selective, because I don’t need to find one person to encompass all of my desires and needs. There may some truth in the latter part of that, but actually, identifying as non-monogamous is proving to bring its own details and definitions to the table. Now, not only do my partners need to match my personality and attitudes and (to some extent) tastes, they also have to be non-monogamous – or, at least okay with me being non-monogamous. And that is proving to be something of an issue.

This is yet another place where I feel I can draw very strong comparisons with being kinky. Not only in that it raises the bar for potential partners, but also in that it is very easy to say “yes, I don’t need monogamy” without really thinking it through. The same way it is easy to say “yes, I will spank you” without truly knowing what that implies or means to the person requesting it. Furthermore, as I discussed last week, there is a difficulty in definition. People are naturally wary of stepping into relationships that don’t have a structure they are familiar with, and whilst I can make the way I handle relationships as clear as day – and that is helpful – I can’t do much to change the fact that most of the people I want to date have grown up in a society saturated with the idea of long-term, monogamous relationships.

Don’t get me wrong: I am not short on offers from potential partners but, and forgive me for perpetuating stereotypes, they seem to mostly be from men who believe I will be open to helping them cheat, or from men who are only looking for casual relationships. Whilst I am not quite comfortable (yet) under the term ‘polyamorous’, what I want is much closer to that than to swinging. I would say I am settled somewhere between progressive swinging and polyamory, but I am hesitant to use either term until I’ve had more practice – I am still a novice, after all. So whilst casual relationships may be fun – and they are! – I’m simply not looking for any more than I already have at present.

But it’s not all bad news! Simply identifying as non-monogamous has brought other people in non-normative relationships out of the woodwork – perhaps not as fast or as many as I would like, but they are appearing! Also, although I’m not sure it’s a good idea for me to be converting people whilst I’m still learning, I am getting more “Huh… that never occurred to me” responses from people who would usually identify as monogamous, and maybe some of those people do go away and re-evaluate their love-lives. I’d like to think so anyway.

And, of course, there is another answer to my problem: I need to connect with more non-monogamous communities. It sounds scary to me, but – and here comes another BDSM comparison – when I realized I was kinky, I had to find communities for that as well, and although it took me some time, I did it! And I can do it again. And this time I’m at an advantage, because being in the world of kink and sex writing, I happen to know a handful of openly non-monogamous people I can ask. I just need to pluck up the courage to ask. But… perhaps I’ll wait until my exams are done for the year. Maybe.


Harper Eliot is a writer and podcaster whose work mainly centers around eroticism and social observation. You can find an archive of work, and links to all her other projects, on her website Harper Eliot. Harper lives in London, but rarely sees her own house, spending most of her time on public transport, listening to podcasts and tweeting too much. Her vices include cigarettes, lubricant, Earl Grey tea, opera, nail polish, and pinwheels.

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