Ethically non-monogamous relationships

Wow! It seems that I was ahead of my time. I practiced for years a version of what is described below. And it had the consequence warned of below too.

Although I have had good sexual relationships with many women over the years, I am actually not very sexy. I can take it or leave it and often leave it.

I was aware that my girlfriend had good juices, however and that my loss of interest in sex with her distressed her. But other aspects of our relationship were very good so I told her that what she did when out of sight of me would be fine, as long as I was spared the details.

So she did have sexual relationships with other men while remaining emotionally attached to me. So for years we were both happy with that arrangement.

It was however an inherently risky arrangement and after a while that risk became reality. She eventually found that one of her lovers suited her better than me in important ways so she shacked up with him. I was distressed to lose her company but we have remained friends, as what she did was within our agreement

By Jana Hocking

I learnt a very interesting fact over the past week: many of you cheeky things are in an ethically non-monogamous relationship … with a twist.

Last week, my column was on ENM (ethical non-monogamy) and I queried whether I could participate in this craze without jealousy rearing its ugly head and decided that long-term the need to be exclusive would ultimately win.

It was roughly five minutes after the article went live that many people got in touch with their own experiences with ENM. My DMs were filled with essays and my phone pinged with friends who felt comfortable enough to share their own stories.

Let’s just say, my mind was blown!

First of all, good lord there’s a lot of you choosing to step outside society’s idea of a ‘normal’ relationship. And it’s not just the spicy couples you assume would be in these kind of relationships. Oh no. There were teachers, plumbers, stay-at-home mums, bankers. It seems the ENM life does not discriminate.

Secondly, I was chuffed that people felt they could share with me, knowing that I am a judgment-free-zone.

I have to admit, following these juicy confessions, I found there to be one stand out feature in these stories. Many (and I mean MANY) people are non-monogamous, they just don’t discuss it with their partner.

That’s where the ‘ethical’ part of this new dating trend becomes a bit hazy. You see, it turns out when you’ve been in a relationship for, what feels like, a million years, sometimes the need to remain exclusive dwindles.

At lunch this weekend, I found myself deep in a debate about ENM and one friend exclaimed: “We’ve been married for so long, I genuinely couldn’t give a hoot who he hooks up with. As long as he comes home to me and doesn’t forget to mow the lawns!”

Another friend happily fantasised who she would hook up with first if given the chance to go non-monogamous.

My DMs were even juicier. One particular bloke shared with me that he and his wife have an unspoken agreement that “what happens on the road, stays on the road.”

Both travel extensively for work, and while in the early years of their marriage they tried to stay monogamous, life on the road can get pretty dull and the mind starts to wonder.

He said it makes him slightly paranoid at the end-of-year Christmas parties, as he tries to guess who she may have hooked up with while away, but believes feelings are spared by just not knowing.

Another person in my DMs said being ENM works for himself and his partner, but rules must be enforced for it to work.

“Rules?!” I questioned, “I thought the whole point of being ENM was that you could be wild and carefree?!”

Nope, because you see I was missing one key fact: when two people connect intimately together, they are running the risk of developing feelings. So, this gent and his partner agreed that they are allowed to hook up with people but not allowed to sleep with the same person more than once, therefore avoiding ‘catching the feels’.

Then I remembered a TED talk I watched recently on ‘The brain in love’ with Dr Helen Fisher, a Senior Research Fellow at the Kinsey Institute. She revealed just how easy it is to fall in love with someone during a one-night-stand.

“Any stimulation of the genitals drives up the brain’s dopamine system, which is basic to feeling intense romantic love. Then, with orgasm, there’s a flood of oxytocin and vasopressin – brilliant chemicals that are associated with attachment,” said Dr Fisher.

“So, when you have sex, you can go over the threshold into falling in love thanks to dopamine – and, after orgasm, feel a deep attachment to them.”

Well that’s slightly petrifying!

I took a trip down memory lane and concluded that, yes, this fact is 100 per cent correct. There’s a certain bloke I’ve done the doona dance with who just has a gift for ‘hitting the spot’ and I’m completely bonkers for him. Science, hey!

So, I think what we can all take from this new trend is that you really are playing with fire if you partake. Boo, why do all fun things have to come with a clause?


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