Non-Monogamy: Taking Advantage of a Mononormative Society


Non-Monogamy: Taking Advantage of a Mononormative SocietySo. I have met a man who won’t get involved with me, sexually, unless I am in a relationship with someone else first. Now, I am all for non-monogamous-positivity, but this seems like a step too far! I mean, if everyone felt like this, there would be no way of transitioning to non-monogamy at all! We have to start somewhere!

But it got me thinking about a couple of things. If there are people who need a partner to be monogamous and committed to them, there must also be people who need a partner to have other people in his/her life. I believe the latter is rarer, but as they say, it takes all sorts. Although having this as a prerequisite would strike me as somewhat odd. After all, relationships end, people break up; what if you have two partners, partner A needs you to have partner B, but you and partner B break up. Where do you then stand with partner A? Hopefully, partner A would be able to handle that time of transition, where you may be dating, and looking for other partners. Still, it seems like a particularly bizarre situation, in its small significance. I would be very interested to hear from anyone who has experienced this, or something similar. Although I would note that I think the imbalance that may occur in a couple when one partner has several lovers and the other partner does not is a little different.

In my situation with this man, however, the above is very superficial. The fact that he won’t get involved with me unless I have someone else is just the symptom, not the root of the issue. But as a non-monogamous girl, the issue is also problematic. We get on very well, and while his wife has consented to him seeing other people there are some strict guidelines that go along with her consent; there is a lot to be discussed on the topic of consent with strings attached, but for today I am just taking it as read that she is giving her consent in the only way she can, and I will respect that. However, he is afraid that if he gets too involved with me, he will become attached, and it will make the whole situation very awkward. Again, whether or not this is a situation I should even be putting myself in seems like another post for another day, so you’ll just have to bear with me on that. I respect his point of view, and I understand what he means; we are already pretty close and I think his concerns are very real.

However – and if you’re polyamorous you may already have skipped forward to this – as a non-monogamous person (hovering somewhere between progressive swinging and polyamory) I’m not sure that me having a committed relationship of my own is going to do much good in preventing the attachment he and I have to each other. (I do have other lovers, but as my relationships with them are closer to progressive swinging than to polyamory, it doesn’t quite meet the requirements of what he would like me to have if he and I were to become involved.) As a non-monogamous person, it also strikes me as a little politically incorrect to support his argument, which is actually very mononormative: if I’m committed to someone else, attachment to him becomes less of an issue, because I am already taken. Ugh.

On the one hand, this is exactly the kind of mononormative thinking I would like to see change in our society. There is also the fact that my attachment to him doesn’t detract from my affection for my other lovers, which goes some way to proving that for me, being involved with someone else is not going to take away from my feelings for him either. On the other hand, I do understand where he is coming from. It seems comparable with men who don’t feel threatened when their female partners want to sleep with other women. Technically if you are a man in a relationship with a bisexual woman, other women should be just as threatening as other men. But this is a situation where our politically incorrect hetero-normativity works in the woman’s favour, by allowing her to sleep with other women without her male partner feeling threatened. It’s the kind of immoral thinking that can be quite useful. And when I think of it like that, I can’t really condemn him for taking advantage of the fact that we live in a mononormative society. He is using a somewhat immoral truth to his advantage.

In the end, as always, I think these things need to be taken on a case by case basis. Human beings are weird and wonderful creatures, and even when something is true 95% of the time, those generalizations still have to be altered to fit each situation. But, I never thought I would be in a situation where I would hear the words “I’d feel more comfortable fucking you if you were in a relationship with someone else.”

Oh brave new world, that has such people in’t.


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.


  1. I’ve heard some of my male friends in the swinger world say that (that they’d rather not fuck single women), because the single women tend to get attached to them, which then creates problems for everyone. I wish that weren’t the case, but I can see where they’re coming from…

  2. The term mono-normative is a great one to describe our culture. There is still a stigma out there that singles are trying to be home wreckers or steal our husbands away.

    I’m not sure in your individual case, this is really coming from the husband or if he is just projecting his wife’s insecurities onto you. It could be that he only wants his wife to play with “attached” people because of his own insecurities, and then extending that rule to himself.

    My husband prefers me to play with married men because he is worried the single guys will want to steal me away from him. I ask my husband, “How do you think I would respond if someone asked me to leave you?” I know he’s secure in our relationship’s solidity so that sometimes helps.

    Personally, I’d rather play with single men simply because, as a woman who plays alone a good percentage of the time, I seem to find my relationships ending due to discomfort either on the part of the wife or the husband in regard to feelings, closeness, or attachment. (Which are not necessarily things I try to avoid.)

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