When most of us think of polyamory, we tend to envision a monogamous couple who’s decided to open up their relationship, each of them dating other people and looking to acquire additional partners. Something we don’t always consider are those couples who are dedicated to their relationship but choose to go in different directions, one of them branching out into the poly lifestyle, the other choosing to remain monogamous.
It might seem like such an arrangement would be rife with drama and jealousy, but it can work, especially when both people recognise the other’s right to choose for themselves what they want and need. If you and your partner are thinking of heading in the poly-mono direction, you might want to prepare yourselves for a few extra hurdles.
Advice for Poly-Monogamous Relationships
Ignore Society’s Expectations of Relationship Symmetry
What constitutes fairness in a relationship? According to mainstream society, a relationship is only fair when those involved are held to the exact same rules of conduct. “If I can’t sleep with other people, neither can you!” But what if we think of fairness as a mutual right to choose?
As long as everyone is being honest and is happy with engaging in a poly-mono dynamic, what’s the harm? People will probably tell you you’re fooling yourselves or that one of you is being taken advantage of, but it’s not for them to judge. Only you can determine what type of poly relationship works for you.
Figure out the Boundaries Early On but Keep Talking
One thing that’s important to every poly-mono relationship is the discussion about boundaries and expectations. Before you head off to find an additional lover (or encourage your partner to do so) you might want to talk about how comfortable you are with sharing or hearing about the details.
Keep checking in with one another fairly often about this and other things, such as how happy you are with the time you spend together and how connected you’re feeling. Honest communication is one of the most crucial aspects of making things work.
Trust Your Partner’s Experience of the Relationship
Does your monogamous partner insist that he or she is completely comfortable with the idea of you seeing other people, but you still feel guilty when you go out? Do you secretly wonder if your partner’s interest in being polyamorous is a rejection of what you have to offer? In short, do each of you doubt the other’s feelings about your relationship dynamic?
There’s a lot of monogamous conditioning to overcome in the quest for poly-mono happiness, but the first thing you can work on is just trusting that your partner’s feelings are genuine. It’s true that sometimes we do lie to ourselves about what we’re comfortable with and what makes us happy, but that’s for each of us to face individually.
To assume that your partner is in denial or just going along with things to make you happy is to insinuate that your partner is immature and unable to make healthy decisions, a belief that is not conducive to a healthy poly relationship.
So remember: talk often, listen closely, and try to ignore all those people who say you’re crazy and headed for disaster. Poly-mono relationships can be a strong and loving thing!