Have you ever considered opening up your relationship? A surprising number of couples are starting to consensually see other people outside of their relationship. It’s not cheating, it’s simply being “monogamish.” If you’ve never heard of the term, don’t worry. We’ve got everything you need to know right here—maybe it’s a trend that could work for you!
The term has been around for years. Being monogamish isn’t exactly a new thing. It’s one of many relationship-defining terms that have fallen by the wayside in the past. But not anymore! Interest has increased in the lifestyle in the past few months. This could be because certain liberal sectors of society are becoming more comfortable with discussing relationship non-conformity. Basically, some people have become a whole lot more chilled out about polyamory.
Sex and relationships expert Dan Savage first coined the term. Savage is a gay, married, nonmonogamous father who also happens to be a leading expert on sex and relationships. He’s been in a monogamish relationship with his husband, Terry Miller, for some years now. The two are pretty happy with their arrangement! Savage first came up with the term to describe his own non-conventional relationship. He began publically speaking about his new label shortly afterward, and the idea eventually caught on.
It’s an extension of the term “open relationship.” To be monogamish, you have to be mostly monogamous with the occasional infidelity. You have to be totally honest with your partner about any flings you have. Sometimes, monogamish couples set pre-arranged conditions that any outside affairs must meet. For example, your partner may not permit you to sleep with somebody you know well. You might only be able to have extra-marital sex a certain number of times per year. The exact terms of the situation are all down to the couple in question.
Some famous figures may well have been monogamish. Not everyone conforms to ideals of monogamy, you know—not even all famous people! Savage has reason to believe that a ton of famous figures from the past may well have been more monogamish than you’d think. He believes that Amelia Earhart, the famous aviation pioneer, fit this label “before it was cool.” Earhart was generally a liberal badass, so it wouldn’t really surprise us.
It’s not the same as cheating. A monogamish relationship doesn’t have the same connotations of betrayal and secrecy as cheating does. The whole agreement relies on honesty, openness, and mutual trust. All extra-relationship dalliances basically have to be pre-agreed, and nothing can be kept a secret. Breaking these fundamental aspects of the monogamish lifestyle can lead to trust issues brewing and relationships coming under strain.
It HAS to be consensual. Here’s the thing: you can’t go out and cheat on your partner and then claim that you’re just monogamish now. That’s not how it works. Both partners need to be on board and you can’t start sleeping around until AFTER you’ve agreed that it’s acceptable. It’s amazing just how many people try to use labels like this to get out of owning up to cheating. You’re not ‘monogamish’ if your partner has no knowledge of your liaisons. You don’t qualify if you open the relationship without their consent. If you do that, you’re just a douchebag.
Despite some negative stereotyping, it’s not a result of so-called “gay promiscuity.” Critics of the monogamish movement have claimed that it’s just an excuse for people in gay relationships to be “more promiscuous.” For one, that’s a blatantly offensive and homophobic attitude based on harmful stereotypes. However, it’s also just plain untrue. Yes, some gay couples are monogamish, but they don’t have a total monopoly on the term. Straight people open their relationships up too. It’s a choice that depends on the wants and needs individuals involved. It has nothing to do with sexuality.
It can be a stabilizing force in a relationship. While many people assume that infidelity of any kind can only damage a couple’s bond, that might not always be the case. Dan Savage believes that the deep trust and honesty that being monogamish entails can actually strengthen a relationship. As long as all parties involved “behave ethically,” occasionally opening a relationship to release sexual tension can make it last longer. Being honest about each other’s sexual needs can bring an added closeness and a deeper mutual understanding. If both parties work hard at it, opening a relationship really can make it stronger.
However, it shouldn’t be jumped into without proper consideration. Being monogamish definitely isn’t for everyone. It’s not something to jump into without fully considering the emotional effects it might have. If you’re a very jealous person, for example, it might be difficult to hear about your partner being with other people. If you’ve got trust issues, non-monogamy is a definite no-no. In many ways, you can’t really know if being monogamish is for you until you try it: the theory of being non-monogamous often feels very different to the reality. Not everyone’s cut out for it, and that’s fine.
Savage has a podcast that may help you to understand the term better. He’s basically the leading expert on the subject. If you’re interested in learning more about being monogamish, maybe give his podcast a listen. Even if you already know it’s not for you, his perspective is an interesting one to hear!
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