To keep it simple, conscious monogamy refers to actively choosing to monogamy as a relationship style rather than simply defaulting to it. Why is this important? Well, read on to learn more!
Until more recently, most people never talked about choosing monogamy. From a variety of cultural messages, we learned that monogamy was the ‘natural’ way of organizing romantic/sexual relationships. Well, in theory at least. Non-consensual non-monogamy (aka cheating) is quite common in presumed monogamous relationships. While monogamy isn’t impossible for humans, it sure can be a hell of taller order than we make it out to be.
When we operate on default, we don’t examine the underlying assumptions, rules, and expectations of the relationship structure. How many couples do you know who discussed what fidelity really meant to them before getting married? Too often, lack of clarity, assumptions, and unrealistic expectations lead to all kinds of conflict, heartache and breakups. Open communication may have spared much of this trouble.
Actively Choosing Monogamy
In order to make monogamy an active and conscious choice, you need to critically examine your beliefs and assumptions about relationships. How much have you thought about what monogamy means to you? Why is exclusivity important to you? Is it a preferred relationship style or is it an attempt to shield a relationship through (often implicit) rules of fidelity?
If you end up concluding that non-monogamy is not for you, there is no shame in that. None. Whether you’ve tried it or just thought about it and came to that decision, monogamy is a valid choice. You just find you’re most comfortable with one partner. Awesome!
Practicing Conscious Monogamy
So, assuming you choose to practice conscious monogamy, what does this look like? How does this differ from operating by default? When you’re consciously monogamous, you will demonstrate:
- Awareness of the societal and family influences that reinforce monogamy as the (presumed) only relationship structure.
- Careful consideration of non-monogamous relationship structures, agreements, etc and decide that doesn’t match your needs/desires.
- Skills to co-create relationship agreements that account for the spectrum of needs/desires of both partners. Revisit and adapt these as necessary.
- Understanding of what cheating/infidelity means to each of you (and what the deal-breakers are).
- Empowered presence to maintain a solid independent identity and social life apart from couples activities
- An ability to talk openly about insecurity and jealousy and own your emotions
- Willingness to check in on how well the monogamous structure are meeting your needs/desires.
Relationships of all kinds take work. Rather than getting complacent and falling into the trap of default monogamy, keep open dialogue about you need, want, and how well monogamy is working for you.
Unsure Whether Monogamy is Right for You?
Unless you’ve really explored what non-monogamy has to offer, have you really made a choice at all? So that’s one starting point. If you have already been exploring non-monogamy but find yourself confused which path to follow, let’s talk. I’d be glad to help you sort it out.