7 Real Alternatives To Monogamy


What comes to mind when you hear the word ‘relationship’?

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Really think about it. What comes to mind when you hear the word ‘relationship’?

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I have no way to substantiate this, but I bet you likely thought of a couple. Not all of you of course, but a good number would.

We are conditioned to believe that the relationship between a man and a woman is the world natural order. After all, it if from this type of relationship that procreation and the continuation of the species come from.

It is not the world natural order.

Relationships have evolved into a range of options, each “designed” to fulfil our unique and different needs.

Before exploring some alternatives, it would be useful to define the word ‘relationship’. “The state of being connected or related.” * At the basis of all relationships, whether by blood or otherwise, there is connection, and connections come in many forms.

KINK

Thinking of kink as a relationship style is difficult for many, as the word is more often associated with an unusual sexual preference or behaviour, rather than a relationship type. However, for those who adopt kink as a lifestyle, it is not uncommon to see very specific types of relationships.

Dominant and submissive or Master and slave are two such examples of lifestyles with very specific dynamics and etiquette. In these relationship types, the participants usually take very specific roles and operate by certain agreed parameters.

POLYAMORY

Gaining popularity, especially among the young generations who have experienced the high rate of failure in their parents’ monogamous relationships, is ‘polyamory’.

Polyamory is defined as “the practice or condition of participating simultaneously in more than one serious romantic or sexual relationship”^.

The experience of polyamory is quite varied and despite some purists who would attribute to the term a specific relationship type, there are in fact many forms of polyamory…perhaps as many as the poly-amorous people within them. To some it is exclusively about romantic relationships, to others it is exclusively sexual, and to others a mixture of the two or something entirely different. At the basis of it, however, is the understanding that the relationship includes several people, and is likely to involve emotional connections.

SWINGING

Swinging refers to the consensual engaging of sexual partners outside a primary relationship; the swinging community, however, also includes a lot of singles.

Differently from polyamory, the typical focus of swinging partners is on sex. This is not exclusively so and there are indeed swingers who establish diverse relationships beyond the mere sexual interaction.

OPEN RELATIONSHIPS

‘Open relationship’ is often considered an umbrella term to include polyamory and swinging and all other non-monogamous arrangements.

According to Michaels and Johnson (2015)~ the term was coined in 1972 by Nena and George O’Neil and popularised in their book Open Marriage.

Today, the term has come to label a broad range of relationships, each with its unique combination of arrangements, but all sharing the idea of exploration and experimentation outside of a primary relationship.

FRIENDS WITH BENEFITS

‘Friends with benefits’ (FWB) refers to friends who engage in sexual activities with the understanding that these are not necessarily linked or leading to a romantic connection.

ASEXUAL

As the term suggests, ‘asexual’ usually refers to a person who does not experience sexual attractions; this would not necessarily imply that no sexual activity is taking place, rather, just that the attraction is not there.

This lifestyle could be adopted by singles, and by couples, where one or both partners experience no sexual attraction and choose not to engage in any sexual activity or limit themselves to a certain type.

SINGLE

And finally, perhaps counter intuitively, here is the relationship with oneself, including the sexual type.

People who are or choose to be single could consider themselves in a relationship. The concepts of solo-sexuality and self-love are gathering momentum among individuals who are single and want to feel good about it, without considering themselves as incomplete or wrong, as society would often lead them to believe.

There are many relationship types, more than the ones listed here.

No relationship is static. We, and our partners, grow and change on a daily basis as individuals. It is only natural, therefore, that the relationship, which is an overlapping of our individual realities, also changes on a constant basis.

As such, what works for us may not work for our neighbour or may stop working one week, two month or five years later.

Thank you for reading my article.

I base all my articles on real case studies and research findings that are relevant to my clients. If would like to read future posts, please join us here.

If you would like help with a similar challenge, you can book a free introductory consultation below and we can explore a way of working together.

*: Dictionary.com definition – Retrieved on 1 Mar 2016 on http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/relationship

^: Dictionary.com definition – Retrieved on 1 Mar 2016 on http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/polyamory?s=t

~: Michaels, M.A. & Johnson, P. (2015) Designer relationships. NJ, United States: Cleis Press


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