If you trust the media, it would be very easy to believe that ethical non-monogamy (ENM) is only for the younger generations. Whether it is articles in magazines, television, streaming networks, or movies, the various forms of ENM seem to only show younger people in their twenties. They might be in their early thirties.
You rarely see anyone who is 40 or older in any depictions of ENM, whether it is swinging, open relationships, polyamory, or something else. All the people in mid-life or older must be in established relationships, right? Either that or they are just living alone and not having any sex.
Is it true though? Is ENM and the many ways it is practiced just for younger generations?
More Younger People Are ENM
Younger generations are indeed more accepting of ethical non-monogamy. You may hear them using terms like solo polyamorous, relationship anarchy, rotational dating, or just non-monogamous more often than you’d hear someone older talking about it.
According to YouGov, more men and women under the age of 45 are interested in a relationship style that is not monogamy. In fact, only one-third of men between the ages of 18 and 44 were interested in a relationship that involved complete monogamy!
More women than men are interested in complete monogamy though. Only 13% of women between the ages of 18 to 44 were interested in complete non-monogamy.
What About Mid-Life To Older Adults?
There are definitely fewer adults who are 45 years of age or older that are interested in non-monogamy or some variation of that.
In men over 45, only 9% thought a completely non-monogamous relationship style was ideal. For women in that age group, it is even lower at only 5%. In women, 11% were open to considering a relationship style that was somewhere in between completely monogamous and completely non-monogamous. For men, as much as 25% of those 45 years of age or older were willing to consider a relationship style that was somewhere in the middle.
So, yes, there are fewer mid-life to older adults who are interested in non-monogamy but these people are still present!
Why The Difference In The Ages?
There are many reasons why more younger people are open to non-monogamy than older adults. One of the biggest reasons is likely due to the sociological norms of those age groups.
For people who are 45 and older, marriage and monogamy have been the norm for so long it is hard to imagine anything else. Committed relationships make them feel safe and secure. It brings about feelings of normalcy that many people crave.
Imagine being 50 years old and showing up to your son’s wedding with your wife and your girlfriend. Sure, your son and his friends might think it is no big deal but how about all the other people your age?
Most of your peers wouldn’t have the audacity to call you out at the wedding but you can be pretty sure they are going to go home and talk about you! Is that a bad thing? It depends on who you are and how you were raised.
The younger generations have a more accepting attitude towards things that were once considered immoral, wrong, or improper. They have grown up with people who are trans, bisexual, pansexual, lesbian, gay, and other parts of the LGBTQ+ spectrum. Younger generations have learned to adapt.
It’s no surprise then that it is younger generations who have adapted more to various relationship styles. They see love as a good thing no matter who someone loves or how many people they love.
Also, younger generations have seen that monogamy is not the perfect relationship style that is portrayed in movies and on television. Falling in love with your one true love and living together forever and ever is simply not reality. They’ve learned this by watching their parents get divorced, remarry, and divorce again.
Very few young people have grown into adults that have parents who are still married and still love each other. Monogamy is not the sure way to a happy life and they’ve seen that.
Why Do Mid-Life To Older Adults Become Non-Monogamous
Most adults who are in their forties or older stick with what they know. They may be monogamous in several relationships over the course of their life but they stay with monogamy because it makes them feel safer and more secure. It is frequently called serial monogamy.
For some people, that works. Monogamy is what makes them happy and it is the relationship style that they prefer. There’s nothing wrong with that.
But for some adults, as they get older, they find that relationships are more fluid and not a hard and fast monogamous rule. They may be monogamous in one relationship but if that relationship ends they may feel comfortable in a non-monogamous relationship later on.
Ethical Non-Monogamy Is For Anyone Who Chooses It
Ultimately, ethical non-monogamy is not about age. Even if most of the portrayals of ENM in the media feature younger people, it is important to know that many people in mid-life or in their older years find that non-monogamy fits them quite well.
No matter what age you are, you will find that there are people in your age group that choose a non-monogamous lifestyle. You can find happiness and fulfilling relationships no matter what age you are.
When it comes right down to it, your relationship style has to make you happy. It has to be something that feels right to you and makes you feel good about yourself. If that means being monogamous, that’s fine. But non-monogamy works well for many people and it is important to remember that their relationship style choice is theirs to make.