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Rethinking monogamy today

on Wednesday, 19 April 2017. Posted in Front Page Headline, Media Updates

CNN

By Ian Kerner

Could opening your relationship to others benefit you and your partner?

 

For many couples, monogamy -- staying sexually exclusive with one partner -- is expected and assumed. It's even included in many marriage vows. But as some people are increasingly realizing, monogamy isn't for everyone.

In fact, consensual non-monogamy can be a healthy option for some couples and, executed thoughtfully, can inject relationships with some much-needed novelty and excitement.

As a couples sex therapist, I've found that some may feel committed to each other yet still feel they have fundamental differences in sexual interests or desires. In the past, many of these couples might have chosen to break up, cheat or just "settle."

But these days, some are finding they want to challenge their notions about sexual exclusivity.

Why did we become monogamous?

Why did we become monogamous?

It's still unclear what's driving this new openness to, well, openness.

"We're just starting to ask these questions in research," sex researcher and educator Zhana Vrangalova said. "But there does seem to be a growing group of people who are open to exploring. Even if they ultimately decide that non-monogamy isn't for them, more couples are making that decision after an informed consideration, rather than just judging and rejecting it."

Indeed, most non-monogamous people probably once practiced monogamy, explained sex therapist Dulcinea Pitagora. "Most people enter their first relationships with the traditional idea of sexual exclusivity. It's just the way we're socialized in our culture."

Is non-monogamy right for you?

So how do you know whether trying consensual non-monogamy -- which includes polyamory, the ability to have sexual and emotional relationships with others -- is worth exploring? First, it helps to understand how you and your partner define sexual openness, as well as sexual exclusivity.

"There are as many different types of non-monogamous relationships as there are people in them," Vrangalova said.

For some couples, non-exclusivity might take the form of attending "play parties" together and swapping partners, watching other couples have sex, dating other people or even entering into polyamorous relationships with multiple partners.

Determine what's OK and what's not. These are important conversations to have even if you intend to remain monogamous, because they help set expectations and boundaries for your relationship. ...

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