Couples Disagree About Whether They’re Monogamous

by lauran on July 8, 2011

One of the things about living in non-monogamous relationships is that you have to be clear about your definitions and rules. Especially when you’re getting started.

And you have to keep being clear about everything as time goes on. What was not okay at first may be something to explore later.

Sometimes you have to back up because something you thought was okay turns out to be a problem.

But compare this way of living to the average couple who never honestly discuss their sexuality or intimacy. That’s how most people start relationships. No wonder our divorce rate is over 50%.

There’s new research that shows that young couples disagree on whether they are monogamous or not.

Well, duh… young or old, how many couples that are not swingers, polyamorous or in an open relationship are likely to agree on this?

In that light, I’m not really surprised to see that One Love: Explicit Monogamy Agreements among Heterosexual Young Adult Couples at Increased Risk of Sexually Transmitted Infections, an upcoming article in the Journal of Sexual Health, documents that a lot of young (18-25) heterosexual couples can’t agree on whether they’re monogamous.

In fact, in 40% of them, one partner said that there was an agreement to be sexually exclusive while the other partner didn’t.

I was taught that sex is bad and not to be talked about. I think most people grow up with that idea. Sitcom and movie writers have filled our heads with stories of people who have secret sex fantasies that can never be shared. In these stories if someone gets a chance to live out their sex fantasies it usually turns out poorly, one way or the other.

We’re taught that if someone really loves us they’ll be jealous of our affections. We often see stories where one partner who gets upset because their wife or husband fantasizes about other people while having sex with them.

All the while sex is used to grab our attention, touching into the deep longing most of us feel as sexual creatures to sell us on something else that won’t really satisfy.

There’s lots of money riding on our repressed sexuality.

Maybe we need a Cosmo quiz to start the “the truth about my sexuality” discussion. Cosmopolitan magazine is famous for publishing series of questions for him and her to answer. They always have some kind of results scale that tell you if you’re compatible or not.

I don’t believe there’s much depth in that kind of thing but I do know one way to start talking about your truth.

  1. Choose a topic where you want to explore perspectives.
  2. Make an agreement to spend time just listening to your partner talk about the topic. It can be 10 minutes or maybe up to half an hour.
  3. In this time there’s no reaction, no judging. Just listen and ask simple questions if you don’t understand something.
  4. Swap roles and do it again.

This is not an easy thing to do so start with simple topics and work your way toward things that are more difficult. Things said here are left here, not carried forward as ammunition for future battles. Also, this type of discussion does not have the goal of coming to agreement. It’s just an exploration.

For some people just making the list of topics to discuss brings refreshing honesty to their relationship.

Learning how to be honest in a relationship is an important skill. Several of us have found valuable information about how to be honest in this book – Getting Real: Ten Truth Skills You Need to Live an Authentic Life.

It’s not about alternative lifestyles, unless you count being honest with your partner as an alternative to the way most people live!

Let me know what you think…

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