dating · polyamory

I Was Monogamous Once

Yep I was actually in a 4 year monogamous relationship. I didn’t plan it that way, when I started dating the guy I happen to have not been seeing anyone else then he asked me to be mono and I figured I could give it a try as an adult. You don’t really know your opinion unless you know the opposing argument.
I’m not going to get too carried away here with personal details because on the other side of the relationship was a human being with feelings who had a different experience than I did. But it definitely sealed the non monogamous deal for me. Having given it an old fashion try as an adult I can say it’s not for me. I had been in “monogamous” relationships when I was younger but I cheated. This was the first time I agreed to it and then actually chose to do it.
When he first asked me to be monogamous I asked him what that meant. What was his definition of cheating, he got really flustered and upset about the conversation saying “you just be monogamous there is no set rules”. I told him I wanted to have the conversation because I was willing to bet my definition was different and I didn’t want to cheat. It took a bit of change in life style to be monogamous. He’s not alone, I’ve found that a lot of monogamous couples don’t talk about this.
Things that were included in his monogamy: sex with others, hand holding, nudity (like skinny dipping), opposite sex sleep overs, sexting. So I’m glad we had that conversation because sex with others would have been the only thing on my list. I understand the sex with others but the rest aren’t sex acts, why are these things not negotiable. And by his definition I did cheat while we were together. I held hands with a good friend of mine on more than one occasion. I had a sleep over with a male friend and we slept in the same bed. Scandalous I know. I never had sex with anyone else. But I did fall in love with my current boyfriend while I was still with the monogamous one. That was really hard having physical boundaries but I kept my word until we were broken up.
I can’t say physical monogamy was in our top 5 problems. Our biggest problem for a long time was lack of attention and consideration on his part. A year before we actually broke up I told him I was unhappy and wrote him out a list of things I specifically needed to be happy. It had things like “ask me how my day was” and “if I’m upset with you don’t avoid me for 5 days”. It was a really frustrating process that started way before it was put on paper. I would ask for needs to be met and they wouldn’t be. No effort would be made. The approach was; this is what I’m offering, this is how I am, you have to just like it this way. Which is the attitude I gather from most mono relationships. So a year after I wrote that paper of needs I read it to him and could check off 2 out of 12 things that were actually happening. He knew I was unhappy. He just didn’t think I would leave. And falling in love with someone else wasn’t why I left, I left because I was unhappy and my needs weren’t being met. He and I did not fall out of love, we just weren’t compatible.
The communication in monogamous relationships is very different. I can’t say just anything I’m thinking or feeling. Some things your partner gets upset by hearing. Like I made a male friend at the gym who has the word vegan tattooed on himself in 3 different places. Because he was male that was upsetting. I wanted to participate in the naked bike riding in our local solstice parade, biggest fight we ever got in. All I did was express I wanted to, I didn’t try to sign up or anything.
I didn’t really feel like we were a unit, we had similar life goals and lived together 3 of those years but we both operated as individuals. I think being monogamy for me creates a barrier between me and the other person, you’re not as close, things aren’t as intimate. The other person is viewed as a threat because if they break this monogamous deal it’s earth shattering. There is emotional space created between you because of that and the lack of being able to talk freely.
I guess you could argue that monogamy was why we broke up because I could have gotten my needs met elsewhere but there was other factors. You could also argue that that wasn’t a good representation of monogamy because of my choice in partner but honestly I know for a fact I’m happy in non monogamy, why waste any more time trying to make mono work for me.
It was actually a bit of work to be monogamous. I had to actively anti date, like turn down good dates. I had to censor what I say which I’m horrible at. I had to make shitty decisions like should I not hold my friends hand? I’ve been close with him for 15 years and I’ve had this boyfriend for a month, a year, a few years. And how does holding his hand affect my current relationship?
I’m not going to say much about our sex life but I will say it’s easier to keep the spice alive for so long with having new and exciting things are in the mix (aka experiences with other people).
I think it worked for so long because I’m fiercely independent so operating as individuals was fine with me. Until I wanted more.

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