Struggling With Non-monogamy? Here’s My Advice.

I’m Alexander Cheves, a writer, author, and sex educator. My nickname is Beastly. I give adult advice on this blog — no question is off-limits. To ask me something, email AskBeastly@gmail.com or send a message via the Ask Beastly contact form.

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I’ll give you some background details that might make it sound complicated but I think the essence is probably pretty simple and universal. I’m 34 years old, pretty happy with myself, sexually very open, and I’ve been through several relationships.

All my relationships were pretty much monogamous and it always kind of made sense (to me). I always had a very satisfying sexual life with my partner(s) or at least ‘good enough’. The concept of ‘good enough’ is quite central in my life as I think it’s important to be content (mind I’m very driven: I’ve got a good career and I work my ass hard for it – so it’s not to be confused with accepting mediocrity or the ‘easy way’ but rather be able to reach a point where you can be happy with what you achieved so that you can enjoy it rather than keep chasing something ‘more’).

After many heartaches, I am trying to distill what I need to look for in a partner in order to have a successful story. What am I happy to compromise and what I cannot? For example, I am really into FF [Beastly’s note: fisting or fist fucking] and I have been wondering if I could be with a partner that isn’t into it (the answer is yes, I think).

I recently met a guy, handsome as hell, crazy sex, a gentleman in the streets, sweet, caring and thoughtful. I started falling for him. Then the other night we were texting and he said he doesn’t believe in monogamy. I panicked.

I started to think of all sort of ways to run away from him. By all means, it’s not a moral problem. But at the same time, I don’t know what my problem is. I see so many successful open relationships and yet every time I think of being in one I feel that’s the door for all my insecurities to enter and ravage me. Insecurities that normally I don’t have. I would love to make this work but I don’t know what kind of mindset I should be in.

I know there’s a lot to say about being honest with each other and communicate etc. Yet it always boils down to the burning question, ‘If you (the other guy) also tell me we have such great sex why do you need to keep spending your time looking for probably less satisfying experiences?’

Right now I went back to the apps and I’m trying to convince myself to fuck some other guys – not as ‘revenge’ but rather as a way to try to be ‘cool’ and ‘fluid’ with having multiple sexual partners in an effort to not start some jealousy thing with this guy – but deep down I’d love to just explore more filth with him alone.

Lastly, when I’m single I’m a total whore so it’s not a matter of having difficulty finding sex. HALP!

Hi friend,

I love total whores and am happy to help, but I’m not sure I can. I know many guys like you — guys who are reasonable and logical and can understand non-monogamy on paper, but they just can’t get past the feelings of insecurity it makes them feel. Let me answer that burning question you want to ask him — If you (the other guy) also tell me we have such great sex why do you need to keep spending your time looking for probably less satisfying experiences?— in the bluntest of terms: a) there is absolutely no guarantee that you are the best sex he can find and b) sometimes people want to have sex with someone different because they’re someone different.

If you had to have only strawberry ice cream for the rest of your life, you’d probably grow tired of it, even if it was your favorite snack. Diversity truly is the spice of life. Humans enjoy diversity in our music, our clothes, our diets, and virtually every other part of our lives, so why are we laboring under the delusion that such a pivotal part of life for our species — sex — is any different?

Cheating and boredom are painful things to deal with in any relationship. They are also, in my opinion, inevitable consequences of demanding that someone be satisfied with you and you alone, forever. I’m non-monogamous because I know that if I’m restricted within the confines of a monogamous relationship, I’ll eventually cheat and cause my partner great pain. So while non-monogamy is not always easy and does occasionally inspire feelings of insecurity and jealousy, it’s the option that keeps me from lying and hurting someone I love. Non-monogamy keeps everything in the open, known and agreed upon by all, so that there’s no dishonesty or sneaking around. It’s easier for a couple to work through jealousy and insecurity (in fact, these feelings, when voiced honestly and calmly, can bring people closer) than the devastating hurt and betrayal of cheating.

If you’re not comfortable with non-monogamy, I would generally advise you not to try it, because it probably won’t work. You and this guy have two different baselines for relationship happiness. But if you want to go for it, here’s what I can offer. To work yourself into a non-monogamous perspective, let’s try a mental exercise. You said you think you could date someone monogamously who isn’t into fisting. You think you could, but it would be hard, right? I don’t know what characteristics you love about this guy, but what if he (or someone else you meet down the line) checks every box for you except a special box — the box for fisting. What if he had everything you needed except fisting? 

By your own account, you’d probably decide you can live without fisting. Fisting is great, but it can be abandoned for someone you love, right? That’s what you think now. That’s what I thought at the beginning of many past monogamous relationships. And you might be able to live without fisting for a while. Maybe even years. But if you love fisting as much as I do, the urge will creep back in, and that’s when you’ll have to decide which one you like more: fisting or him. 

Monogamous couples make choices and hard sacrifices like this all the time — and they don’t have to. Everyone actually can be happy and have all their needs met. I don’t hold any admiration for people who deny themselves for love — I don’t think there’s anything praiseworthy and applaudable in staunch self-denial. What if you didn’t have to choose? What if you could enjoy fisting and your boyfriend? What if you could actually have everything that makes you happy?

You can. But you’re not going to turn someone (your boyfriend) into something he’s not. So, your only option — the best option — is to attempt a monogamish relationship, one that makes certain allowances for playing with others. Date this guy and have a special friend (or friends) you are allowed to fist with. Don’t hide anything from him. You have your primary relationship, plus some fisting buddies on the side, and everyone knows that the other people exist. Your fisting buddy would not need to think he is your primary partner, and that low-pressure agreement would actually make for great, easy sex. Casual fuck buddies are so much fun, primarily because you don’t have to provide anything more than sex.

This is the joy of non-monogamy: you don’t have to force one person to satisfy all of your needs. No one ever will. The expectation that one partner will satisfy everything one needs sexually is an absurd, toxic, and ultimately defeating myth of modern love. No one can be everything for someone else. Think about it: satisfying all your needs is a ridiculous amount of pressure to put on one person. Yet that is exactly what we demand of monogamous partners, which in turn makes them lie and conceal and distort themselves to continually be what their partners want them to be. The freedom of non-monogamy is that it allows you to love people as they are, and be exactly who you are with them.

What if you re-wrote your “good enough” picture into one in which you can get all your sexual needs met? What if your baseline for happiness was total satisfaction? 

This guy you’re into may actually be into fisting, so you may not feel pressured to make the choice described in the above scenario. But boredom and other discontentments will come. That is my solemn promise: you will get bored and dissatisfied. Sometimes you may just want someone else because they’re someone else. Everyone gets bored. That doesn’t mean love has stopped — it just means you need a different ice cream flavor.

I won’t say non-monogamy is easy, though I do find it easier than the monogamous alternative. There are no special tricks to doing it successfully, but the communication and trust it requires in order to work are conducive to having a great relationship. I’d be lying if I said my insecurities never bubble to the surface or that I never get jealous — I’m human and these are human feelings that everyone gets from time to time. But you already know how to work through jealousy and insecurity. You wrote it yourself: Being honest with each other and communicate.

That’s the golden rule, no matter what kind of relationship you have.

Love, Beastly

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