There are many reasons why a monogamous person might want to have a long-term relationship with someone who is non-monogamous but not many people try to make it work. Most people assume that someone who is ethically non-monogamous could not possibly make someone who is monogamous happy.
Many times, they would be correct in that understanding.
The problems arise when one person believes that their way of having relationships is the “right” way. If you can’t look outside your belief system and allow the person you love to make their own decisions, it is unlikely that you will be able to maintain a relationship with someone who has a different relationship style than you do.
Why Would Anyone Mix These Two Relationship Styles?
There are many reasons why someone who is ENM might find themselves in a relationship with someone who is monogamous. They can have a long and happy relationship if they are both committed to making it work, though.
One of the most common reasons that people who are monogamous and ENM find themselves together is because they were in a relationship before one of them became ENM. One person may decide that monogamy is not for them and feel compelled to change their relationship style. The other person is committed to being with one person only.
This can be hard on a relationship but it works for some people.
Another reason the two relationship styles might mix is because one person has a higher sex drive than the other person. In this instance, one person remains monogamous while accepting that their partner needs more sex and agrees to them adopting a non-monogamous lifestyle.
Finally, sometimes two people meet and they just like each other enough that they want to pursue a relationship together, even though their styles are different. Again, this can be a challenge but if they work on it, it can be successful.
What Kind Of Ethical Non-Monogamy Is Involved?
Whether it is a new relationship or an existing relationship, the partner who is ENM must be clear about what kind of non-monogamy they want to practice. Do they want to be polyamorous or are they interested in swinging?
The importance of understanding how they define their non-monogamy and how they want to live a non-monogamous life is critical. It is only by being clear and open about the life they want or the life they have that the monogamous person can feel secure.
For a monogamous person to be confident and happy in a relationship with a non-monogamous person, they must understand what they can expect from the other person. They need to know if the other person is going to be bringing dates by the house and they are expected to meet them or if the non-monogamous person will be discreet. Will they be dating publicly?
Even if a new relationship is building between someone who is monogamous and someone who is not, clarity and transparency will go a long way. It helps build trust.
The Two Involved Understand and Respect Each Other
It’s important that the two people in the relationship understand and respect each other’s positions on relationships. If one person is always trying to change the other, there will be a lot of resentment.
The person who is ENM can’t try to convince his monogamous partner to try his way of life if she is committed to monogamy. The monogamous person must wholeheartedly accept the ENM person for who they are.
In order to reach this kind of understanding and acceptance, each person in the relationship is going to have to do a lot of work on themselves. They may have to take steps to break down the socially accepted norms that society has taught them.
If a couple begins this relationship dynamic, they may have to see a counselor for a time. It’s not easy to make these kinds of changes without professional help!
Each Person Must Set Their Own Boundaries
Whether a monogamous/ENM relationship evolves from an existing relationship that was once purely monogamous or is built into a new relationship, it’s important for each person to create some boundaries. Boundaries define what is and isn’t acceptable to you personally and help you communicate what is important.
Each person has the choice to accept the other person’s boundaries. Accepting them means that you won’t cross them. Not accepting them might mean that the relationship doesn’t continue in the future.
When you talk about boundaries and help each other set them and you both agree to them, they can be stronger than any rule. Boundaries are about respect for the other person. Rules say, “Have respect for me.”
Some Other Considerations To Discuss
Before a monogamous and non-monogamous relationship can work, there must be a great deal of conversation. Whether you are in an existing relationship or starting a new relationship, here are some other talking points that you should both agree on if you want your partnership to last.
- Time: Who will you spend holidays with? How much time can the non-monogamous person spend with other partners? Are there periods that are dedicated to the two of you? How will you organize your time? Does the non-monogamous person need to consult with the monogamous person before making plans with others?
- Sharing of information: What kind of information are you expected to share with each other? If the non-monogamous person begins to date someone new, are they expected to tell their partner? And if yes, how many details do they have to include? Name? Where do they work? What else?
- Sexual safety: How will the non-monogamous person ensure that their partner is safe from sexually transmitted diseases and infections? Will they always use condoms and dental dams? Or will they begin to use condoms with their current partner? How often will they get tested for STIs/STDs?
- Personal boundaries: Will one partner’s new partners be invited into the home? While the other partner is absent? If there are children involved, what will they be told (if anything)?
- Public appearances: Will the dating partner be able to date publicly or must it all stay behind closed doors? Can they be friends with them on social media? Can the partners of the non-monogamous person contact the non-monogamous person?
- Don’t ask, don’t tell: If the monogamous person wants nothing to do with their partner’s partners and doesn’t want to know anything, this is a DADT relationship. This can work for many people, but how will you manage it if new partners want proof that the monogamous person is knowledgeable and consents to the arrangement?
- Veto: Does the monogamous person have veto power over the non-monogamous person’s relationships? Can he tell her that she can’t see someone anymore because he thinks she’s not safe? Or how about if he just doesn’t like the new partner?
Non-monogamous and monogamous people can make a relationship work. However, just as in any other relationship, there’s a lot of work and communication required. Even more than in traditional relationships.
Both parties must be in agreement. If both partners don’t agree on how the relationship should work, it might be time to consider ending the relationship.