I need to come out of the closet…
Very few people know this about me, but I think it’s important that you do.
I am not monogamous.
Yes, I have a partner, and yes, I am married. But we practice something that falls under the umbrella of “consensual non-monogamy”.
Now, before you click away and decide “this is NOT for me”…
I hear you.
Consensual non-monogamy is NOT for everyone.
I would absolutely not recommend it for all people.
In fact, I think monogamy is a beautiful standard for relationships. If that’s you, uphold it as well as you can.
But there are some things you might be able to learn from consensual non-monogamous relationships.
I was 27 when I met my partner, and at the time, I told him straight up, “I don’t think I want to just sleep with the same person for the rest of my life.” I was lucky that I knew this about myself at a relatively young age, but many people realize this when they’re older.
A lot of people realize this when they’ve been married for 20 years and they start asking themselves, “… is this really it?”
Maybe this is something you’ve been thinking about for a while, or something you’d be interested in exploring.
Here’s the thing: it’s not bad, shameful, or wrong to want to have sex with multiple partners in our lifetime. It’s literally in our DNA.
Which is why, in this article, I’m giving you the low-down on:
- what the heck consensual non-monogamy is
- whether or not it makes sense for you
- how to enter into it without risking unnecessary pain
- how it can help you thrive and grow as a person (and in your relationship!)
What is a Consensual Non-Monogamous Relationship?
The key term here: Consensual Non-Monogamy, or CNM for short.
Consensual means that it is done with the permission and knowledge of all parties involved. Everyone is consenting, which means this situation is free from coercion, free of force, and takes place transparently.
On the other hand, NON-consensual non-monogamy: infidelity, cheating — is a huge breach of trust and often destroys relationships.
Consensual Non-Monogamy can be Scary, But Makes You Grow
I’ll be honest, sometimes consensual non-monogamy can lead to very human feelings of jealousy and insecurity. This is perfectly normal.
In my experience, these feelings have led me to better myself. Consensual non-monogamy allows us to pinpoint and address our deepest insecurities.
And in fact, if you are secure in knowing monogamy is right for you, the lessons of consensual non-monogamy can show us that WE ALL experience the painful feelings of insecurity and jealousy, but it’s all in how we handle those feelings.
It’s all in how we grow from them.
That’s why I believe that learning from CNM can be a fabulous highway to personal development.
What are Some Common Consensual Non-monogamy Scenarios?
Consensual non-monogamy is born from multiple scenarios…
Whether you’re happily married but don’t have a spark in the bedroom anymore…
Or whether you’re on the dating scene looking to be involved with multiple partners, each contributing their own flavors and personalities.
Maybe you find yourself married to someone who doesn’t enjoy sex at all, and you still need to get your needs met.
No matter what the situation, there is a consensual non-monogamous setup. Here are some examples:
- Sex clubs where you might just watch and be watched by other couples, there’s swinging and partner swapping
- There’s cuckolding and hotwifing
- There’s threesomes
- There’s casual sex
- There’s polyamory
- BDSM and the fetish kink community
- Seeing sex workers with permission
- And then finally, there’s don’t ask, don’t tell with consent!
How do you know if consensual non-monogamy is right for you?
Just because it’s something you fantasize about, doesn’t mean it’s right for you and your relationship. Here’s what you need to know in order to make consensual non-monogamy work for you.
1. Make sure you have a strong relationship.
Consensual non-monogamy does not fix relationships.
Involving other people doesn’t make things less complicated.
Your relationship must be in a good place for you to engage in this new lifestyle.
2. Make Sure There are No Double Standards
If you’re going to ask for additional freedoms in your romantic relationship, be willing to extend those to your partner.
If you are having trouble extending those, ask yourself what your motivation is and if that’s coming from a place of real authentic integrity or if it’s coming from a place of jealousy and insecurity.
3. You Need to be Emotionally Intelligent
Be honest with yourself… do you have the emotional intelligence to handle this?
There is a lot more to it than a sex drive and an open calendar. You’re going to need to be very emotionally present, personally aware, and adept at communicating.
4. Be Honest About the Cost and Benefits.
Are you willing to put it all on the line?
Are these benefits good enough that if these costs come to bear?
Consider everything that COULD happen… what are the costs of staying monogamous? What are the benefits? Likewise, consider the costs and benefits of consensual non-monogamy. You might find it’s worth it — or not.
How to Embark on Consensual Non-Monogamy
Is this something you’d be willing to explore?
If you say ‘NO’ – then good on you buddy. You know what you want.
But, if you say ‘YES’, this next section is for you!
1. Get clear on what you want
Refer to the list above. What type of situation feels right to you?
The more clear you are, the better. This is going to be super helpful later for yourself and for conversations with your partner.
2. Research, Research, Research
I may be a sex and relationship coach, but let me be clear — this blog article is coming nowhere CLOSE to scratching the surface on the world of consensual non-monogamy.
Trust me, other people have come before you. They have made mistakes. You do not want to repeat them. The more that you study history, the less that you are doomed to repeat it.
3. Communicate with your partner
You cannot have consensual non-monogamy without communication. Straight up.
After doing research, show your partner you’ve put in the work! Show them you’re ready to get serious about honoring everyone’s needs.
Also, be willing to hear no. This doesn’t mean that the conversation is over… prepare on having multiple conversations about this over a long period of time.
4. Keep the conversation moving
Keep that momentum moving! This is something that can drag out for years — something you both can talk about forever and never actually do — or it’s something you can achieve through evolving the conversation further.
If it’s really important to you, you need to keep the conversation moving.
5. Call in the Experts
Look into counsel by talking with a therapist familiar with non-monogamy. And not all therapists are. Some therapists will go so far as to judge you for it. If this is the case, this therapist is not a good fit for you.
Or discuss the situation with an experienced sex coach that’s familiar with non-monogamy, polyamory, who is sex-positive and pleasure-positive professionals.
A professional can help you work this stuff out.
6. Move at the pace of the less-sure partner.
You need to respect the person who has concerns, who is feeling not too sure with the idea of non-monogamy. Respect their needs. Don’t rush their process!
So while we want to keep things moving, we don’t want to move faster than the least comfortable person.
7. Take baby steps and celebrate the heck out of them!
When society tells us that monogamy is the only path to a healthy relationship, it can feel extra scary to embrace consensual non-monogamy. I’m here to tell you: embrace the little wins. Enjoy every move you make — whether it’s creating a dating profile on a non-monogamous dating app or going out and having consensual sex with another person.
You did it! Celebrate that.
Talk to each other about what worked, what you could have done better… but always focus on the positive. This is a great way to grow together.