Ethical non-monogamy

If I were to explain my sex and love life to most people they would probably think it was pretty weird:

-I have a regular sexual partner that is basically a quasi-relationship. We watch films, eat pizza, go on days out, and have sex but I’m not in love with him. He also has multiple sexual partners and we discuss our sex lives.

-I have a number of very occasional fuck buddies.

-I have one night stands.

-I have been dating to look for another regular sexual partner.

My sex and love life might not be conventional but it works for me and those I am involved with. I believe the only way a relationship style can be wrong is if it isn’t right for the people involved.

I firmly believe people are happiest when they are living in accordance with their morals and allowed to be (or discover) their true self. It sounds so simple and yet too often I have allowed myself to be shaped by other people, losing myself in the process. In the past I have had partners judge me harshly for my sexual choices. They have either decided I am a bad person or else, even worse, tried to suggest I was coerced or unable to make my own choices. When someone repeatedly treats you like you are weak and incapable of making choices it can reduce your self esteem. My self esteem hasn’t always been very secure (and still isn’t) so that kind of treatment had a profound effect on me. I pushed aside my desires and attitudes and tried to be “normal”. The result was that I was unsatisifed and felt ashamed of the things I was suppressing.

I have trouble combining love and sex, physical and emotional intimacy. That is still true but I have made progress in the past year. About a year ago I started sleeping with D, an old fuck buddy. It was a safe way of getting my sexual needs met without having to deal with my fears of emotional intimacy but it has actually helped me to begin working on those issues too. He is someone I feel physically safe with but over the past year I have found that I also feel safe being vulnerable in front of him. That’s not to say I feel able to show the full extent of my vulnerability but even being able to show some of it to someone I am sleeping with is massive progress.

It had been years since D and I had last spoken when he messaged me. There were reasons we hadn’t spoken and questions I wanted answering but when we met for coffee I immediately felt comfortable talking to him. I remembered how much I had enjoyed the things we used to do and I remembered how different I was when we first met. I was absolutely batshit crazy (I’m glad that has changed!) but I was comfortable with my sexuality back then, before people started telling me it was wrong.

The coffee was just a coffee but it got me thinking about what I wanted in terms of relationships and sex. I had never exactly stopped being kinky but I’d played it down considerably. I’d never stopped having one night stands but I’d beaten myself up for them because I’d internalised other people’s opinions. I’d never stopped saying that in an ideal world I’d meet someone who was happy to separate sex and love but I’d never actually seriously considered it a real option. I had been trying to shoehorn myself into the neat little boxes of either ‘monogamous romantic and sexual relationship’ or celibacy because I thought those were my only options. Rather than working out a way to get what I wanted, I had made myself unhappy by trying to be something I’m not.

Getting involved with D showed me that there are people out there who want similar things. I realised that while D and I are uncannily compatible, he isn’t the only person I am compatible with. My growing acceptance of myself and my sexuality enabled me to actively seek out the kinds of relationships I want and to approach sex and dating in a way which is in accordance with my own morals.

Having multiple sexual partners but no romantic relationship might seem strange but it works for me right now. I am always totally honest about the fact I am not looking for a romantic relationship and explain that I have a regular sexual partner and also a number of less regular partners and one night stands. I take care of my sexual health for my own wellbeing but also for the wellbeing of my partners and their partners. For me, a huge part of being ethically non-monogamous is being safe.

My relationship style, wants or needs may evolve and that’s ok but right now this is working for me and the people I am seeing. Maybe in five years I’ll be in a totally vanilla monogamous relationship but equally maybe I’ll fall in love with more than one person. As long as I am living in accordance with my morals and in a way which feels authentic to me, I am happy to be as “normal” or as unconventional as feels right to me.

Is your sex and love life unconventional? Have you found your attitudes towards monogamy have changed over time? Are you living in accordance with your morals and able to be your true self in your relationship(s)?

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