A Year as the Novice Non-Monogamist


A Year as the Novice Non-MonogamistOnce upon a time, fifty-two mini-articles about non-monogamy ago, there lived a girl.

That’s right – this piece marks a year of my Life on the Swingset column, The Novice Non-Monogamist, and just over a year of identifying as non-monogamous. There has been happiness and heartache, tears and joy, frustration and contentment… but mostly there has been a lot of contemplation. I have written many pieces about jealousy and time-management and communication and various forms of non-monogamy, and hopefully learned something along the way. For myself, I have brought a new person into my life, and I have transitioned (or perhaps fallen in) to polyamory and love. Though life is never perfect, I do feel particularly blessed at the moment, and I am happy to have come through this first year relatively unscathed.

But I do have a few things to say about writing my way through what most consider to be “that difficult first year of non-monogamy”. (Not to say I think I am out of the woods; in fact most people have described those “difficult first two years” at least, if not three!, so I’m not going to count my eggs before they’ve hatched.) As I mentioned, I feel I have come through this year without too much difficulty, and I think there are a few contributing factors to this. First of all, it has to be said, I think being a single person, rather than part of a couple who are opening up their relationship, means I haven’t had to grapple with the difficulty of changing an existing dynamic. Of course, doing it as a single person comes with its own difficulties – I don’t have a base, and often feel a little lost out here on my own – but it’s not too wildly different from being single and dating, so it feels somewhat familiar.

The other large contributing factor, I believe, is this column. That’s not to say it hasn’t also had a negative effect at times; but the act of writing my way through less wonderful moments and getting feedback from other people who have been through similar things, has been incredibly valuable. The written word has always been my preferred choice of exorcism, and for me it does help to know someone is reading. (I’ve never been particularly good at maintaining diaries, except for that one Summer I cycled around Holland and developed highly superficial crushes on several classmates; but even then I wrote little of note.) However, on occasion – and I am not overly proud of this – I have expounded upon matters here before I have discussed them with my partners, which has led to more than one conversation I should have had the strength to begin by myself. Nevertheless, this has also been a learning curve, and as a result of taking the coward’s way out these several times, I have also learned not to do it, and I think I’m getting better at facing difficulty head-on, at least before I write about it here. And, if I were being really kind to myself, I suppose I could also suggest that perhaps my articles have prompted conversations that needed to happen and had no other way of being sparked; but that might be a stretch…

In any case, it has been an incredible year, of personal growth and new lessons learned, and I feel I have overcome several of my own demons. However, one way in which I am certainly not richer is time; writing a column a week is no mean feat (and I’m sure it often shows!), and alongside time constraints, I have gained a huge amount of respect for Cooper and the podcasting co. and their ability to find an hour’s worth of non-monogamy based topic a week!, whilst I struggle to think of something – anything! – new to say to fill a meagre six hundred or so words. Therefore, it is with a complex mixture of trepidation and relief, that I am now switching from a weekly column to a monthly one, thereby allowing more time to develop ideas and, most importantly, more time to sleep!

So until next month, fair readers, I bid you adieu…


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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