When I was in college, I dated someone that is often referred to as “my best ex.”
James was outgoing and fun, extremely vivacious and driven, and at the beginning of our relationship, we had an absolute blast together.
Then, one morning after a night of partying, a close friend visited me in my dorm room and hesitantly revealed that she needed to tell me something.
James had disclosed to her the night before (after a few drinks) that he didn’t really believe in monogamy and that he didn't know if it was the path for him. Deep down in my gut, the revelation was of no surprise, but at the time, I wasn’t willing to let James go.
As time went on, the internal struggle that James was going through began to become clear to me. He ended things with me several months after his tipsy confession, and years later, I can see through social media that he has multiple partners and seems extremely happy.
My experience with James opened my eyes to the reality that not everyone is meant (or wants) to be in a monogamous relationship. In fact, studies are beginning to show that exploring a consensually non-monogamous relationship can be extremely healthy.
Here are the signs that you may need to explore other options rather than simply a traditonal monogamous relationship model.
No jealousy arises when you picture your partner with someone else
My fiance and I have discussed everything about relationships, boundaries, what we are comfortable with, and what we aren’t open to exploring.
Although we are very adventurous, we truly enjoy monogamy, and neither of us enjoys the thought of someone else entering the picture.
One of my best friends, on the other hand, is in an open relationship and loves when her husband tells her about his adventures and dates with other people. It is difficult for me to fathom, but it’s opened my eyes to the reality that it opens up a world where monogamy isn’t the only option without jealousy.
You struggle with the thought of being “tied” to one person
While we were still dating, I always notice that James got nervous when we talked about anything long-term, and the concept of marriage itself was entirely baffling to him.
Attraction can easily fade over time, and the “spark” that you feel at the beginning of a relationship can morph into something more comfortable, and at times boring.
Monogamy doesn’t make sense for some people because it ultimately chooses one person for either the rest of your life or for a long-term duration.
If the idea of staying with one person sends you into a complete panic, it could be because you haven’t met someone you are compatible with, or it could mean that you should be exploring less traditional routes.
You could “take it or leave it.”
Imagine that time and time again, you have tried to be in a relationship after a relationship, but you always feel exhausted and pressured to be the missing piece to someone else.
Yes, no one can complete us, that is something that needs to come from within, but if you could take or leave the idea and reality of being with someone exclusively… monogamy may not be the path you should follow.
There was a moment after we broke up when I hung out with James, and I remember him becoming emotional because he felt like he needed to follow a traditional route, but that it didn’t feel like it was really meant for him. Monogamy was never something that he desired, and it simply was easy to fall into.
I recently spoke with a close friend about how our partners are incredible but don’t complete us. In fact, we often become just as fulfilled by many other relationships. Sexually, we choose to stay with only our partners, but emotionally we have many different friends that enhance our lives.
There are proven benefits to having more than one partner, and it is time to stop assuming that just because monogamy works for some of us, it works for all of us.
Challenging your beliefs and preconceived notions about relationships and love will only help you figure out exactly what you want. Try to set aside “traditional values” to identify what makes you the happiest, even if it looks a little different than what you expected.