A few months ago, I decided to embark on a new journey. A journey into the worlds of consensual non-monogamy and kink.
I am in my 30s and I’ve been in long-term relationships most of my life but monogamy wasn’t working out particularly well for me. In a romantic relationship I am a people-pleaser: I lose my sense of self too easily and get very bogged down with the shoulds.
The idea of non-monogamy has been percolating for a few years now and it began when I read ‘How to Think More About Sex’ by Alain de Botton. It made me think. In the grand scheme of humanity, our current version of monogamy is relatively new. It also places all sorts of unrealistic demands on our “other half”. There is the explicit expectation that they are not only our best friend, lover, romancer, spouse and possible co-parent, but also on the same wavelength politically, intellectually etc. etc. The list goes on and on.
I had never even thought to critique monogamy before. I mean it’s just what we do. Everyone wants to find The One. Right? Hollywood and Disney have a lot to answer for… But I’m also not one to shy away from my thoughts. And, as Grace Hopper said: “The most dangerous phrase in our language is, ‘We’ve always done it this way’”
So, as time passed, I gave myself permission to explore – in theory – what I truly wanted. In spite of planning parenthood since I was 10, I’m pretty sure I don’t actually want my own biological children. I am not desperate to wear a white dress and be someone’s wife. But I have a lot of love to give: I do want to love and to feel loved. I want to be valued and respected. I want intimacy. I want sex. Love-making sex, but also naughty, kinky, boundary-pushing sex.
Slowly, I’ve realised that it could be possible to have all of these things outside of the confines of a traditional relationship. The more I’ve thought about it, and spoken with like-minded people, and read articles and books, the more I’ve realised that the principles on which my experiences of monogamy had been based were not the way I wanted to do things any more. I used to get very jealous. I was possessive yet I used to feel trapped. Regardless of sexual connections at the beginnings of a relationship, sex would always become an issue in some capacity down the line.
My thoughts and feelings about it all are continuously evolving but the deeper I go, the less inclined I am to fall back into monogamy. I think it’s natural to find people – other than just the one you’ve pledged to be faithful to – attractive. I think denying this leads to issues and makes cheating more exciting. What if I could be in a secure, loving relationship (or, even secure and loving relationships) but still have the freedom to explore other interesting connections with people I meet?
Most importantly, going forward I want my relationships to be built on trust, honesty, respect and communication. Successful non-monogamous relationships rely on these very things in a way that monogamous relationships often fall short on. As does kink.
I am no longer a particularly jealous person and I definitely don’t believe that other people are possessions. I also know that I can manage envy – in fact I enjoy the challenge of doing so. Like the majority of people, I have the capacity to feel a great deal of love for many people at the same time: while time might be a limiting factor, love is not. Much like familial love, the romantic love that I feel for one person is not affected or diminished by the love I feel for another.
I have already spent a lot of time questioning and exploring my motivations for starting this new chapter of my life. Am I, in fact, a narcissist, looking only for my ego to be fed? Am I just terrified of commitment? The truth is that I don’t actually know. Both are possible. But if I don’t jump in I will never know. I will also never know what could have been and that is not something I am prepared to give up.
I would like to invite you to join me on this journey… While I am keeping my identity under wraps and will, of course, be protecting the identities of the people I meet, I would like to document it as openly and honestly as I can. Not only that, the act of writing helps me to process my thoughts and feelings and I am pretty sure there will be plenty of those along the way…
You can follow Eleni’s journey here.