Q & A

Struggling with Monogamy in a Poly Relationship

Loving Couple in Bed

Dear Jamie,

There I was, reveling in a really exciting and fulfilling dating and sex life, meeting women who were both polyamorous and kinky. I was living my best life. Along came the pandemic and suddenly the doors were closing, lovers in my circle were pairing off or limiting new sexual partners.

I felt relieved that one of my lovers felt comfortable pursuing our lifestyle with common sense, but as the situation became more dire, Lisa changed her mind and asked me to stop seeing other women. I didn’t mind for a while, it just made sense to “do my part.” But there seems to be no end in sight to this thing.

I should be grateful that I have a kinky lover because lots of people are not dating at all right now and loneliness is a real problem for so many. But I am just not wired for monogamy and am struggling. Any advice? – Ahmad

Ahmad, I hear you.

It feels like life has taken the wind out of our sails in so many ways. With so many people losing their livelihoods, losing loved ones to illness, and being separated from aging parents or other close family, the last thing I want to do is complain about not having the kind of sex I’m used to! But changes we didn’t anticipate can be traumatic. After all, sex IS life, am I right?

Since you’re currently struggling with monogamy, there are two ways you can go here.

One, you can leave Lisa and carry on with polyamorous dating. Lots of poly people have modified their number of partners but still see more than one lover. Many have a polycule bubble that maintains multiple partners but does not include new lovers for any of the members. Some have cut down on frequency to limit exposure, and some regularly take medical tests and ask for testing from new lovers.

The other option is to stay with Lisa and cope while struggling with monogamy for the time being. It might help to talk it out together, as she may feel the same way you do. She obviously made a sacrifice to protect her health and yours, and sharing your anxieties together can help you cope with them.

How to Cope When Struggling with Monogamy

There is a real rush of intensity that comes from sex with a new partner. Our hormones rage at the novelty, and exploring a new body is exciting. A lover who we have seen and felt over and over doesn’t trigger that same cascade of chemicals and not having that overwhelming rush in our lives can feel monotonous.

Read: What’s Missing in Monogamous Relationships

People who are monogamous by choice give that novelty up in exchange for warm, familiar sex with someone they trust. Polyamorous people get it all—secure, familiar sex with long-term lovers and heady, new sex with new flames.

Neither you nor Lisa can be more than one. If you decide to stay with her and stay monogamous for now, you can make the most of it by really understanding what’s at stake.

Get creative and focus on the kinks that excite you both. Explore new ones together.

While you can’t trick your body into thinking you’re with a new lover, you can engage your mind with novelty through role playing. Role play is unlimited, from dress-up to age play to domination and submission. It can be light and fun, or very intense! Want something less active? Watch porn together and share the excitement that results from seeing and fantasizing about other lovers.

For more tips on poly-mono relationships, read Advice for Poly-Monogamous Couples, or explore the intersection of polyamory and monogamy with When Polyamory and Monogamy Collide.

This won’t last forever. Do what it takes to get you through. Let us know how it goes!

Are you currently struggling with monogamy? Please share your story in the comments!

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