Monogamy. Exploring open relationships

Gay men and monogamy is rare and complex. Many gay men often say, “My boyfriend thinks he is in a monogamous relationship,”, but the truth isn’t always reality. Monogamous relationships do exist for some gay couples, but it’s more uncommon than not. For couples who try to be monogamous, the first problem is having a […]

Love + Sex Relationship Advice Bill Coleman, PhD

This article was published on April 6th, 2015

Monogamy. Discussing open relationships.

Gay men and monogamy is rare and complex. Many gay men often say, “My boyfriend thinks he is in a monogamous relationship,”, but the truth isn’t always reality. Monogamous relationships do exist for some gay couples, but it’s more uncommon than not.

For couples who try to be monogamous, the first problem is having a clear understanding of what it means. In some relationships it is ok for partners to chat with guys on geo-location apps, like Grindr, Hornet, or Scruff, and maybe even getting off while chatting is acceptable, or meeting up for coffee. But how far is it allowed to go? Is getting together and jerking off together in the same room ok as long as there is no touching involved?  Is kissing allowed? How about spending the night and cuddling, as long as there is no sex involved?

The list could literally go on forever. It is important for partners to discuss openly about what the definition of monogamy is, to get a clear understanding of what each other mean, and what is acceptable.

Couples often think that they should be monogamous, and maintain that status throughout their relationship over many years. Too often relationship partners agree to monogamy to please the other partner. At the beginning of the relationship it seemed easy and was appropriate, but as time goes on, monogamy can be restricting, and resentment towards the other partner could develop.

Monogamish is a newer term to describe guys who are mostly into having a monogamous relationship, but are open to having sexual experiences with other guys.

When discussing monogamy with your partner, it’s important to discuss your feelings about monogamy and about sex with other guys. By knowing and discussing why the concept of monogamy is or isn’t important to each other, it will make it easier to honor the rules around sex with other guys. Understanding what the rules are and why they are there helps each partner feel more secure.

Each partner also needs to understand each other’s concerns. These concerns could include threats to the relationship, social insecurity about what other people will think, jealousy, and sexually transmitted infections (STI’s).

In some monogamish relationships have rules, to define what is acceptable. This could include things like not hooking up in the city they live in, no anal sex, not with mutual friends, must use condoms, must play together, or not with the same person more than once. The list can be simple, or very complex.

Relationships grow and evolve over time. This also applies to how sex with other guys fits in to the relationship. As you grow, the relationship will change, along with the role of sex in the relationship. Love can continue through all of these changes. Sharing and communicating them with your partner is important.

Bringing up the conversation of monogamy isn’t easy. Your partner may feel threatened or insecure. It is a hard discussion to have. In fact, it is so difficult that many guys will never bring it up with their partner, and instead decide to cheat. The best method is to agree to review your agreement on sex with guys every couple of months for the first year, and then maybe every six months or year after that.

If you violate the rules about sex with other guys then there is a strong tendency not to discuss the violation with your partner. If you do not talk about what happened, you may feel guilt, shame, resentment and distance building between you and your partner. While talking may be difficult and uncomfortable, and in some cases hurt, in the long run a strong relationship is formed through honesty and working out your problems, together.

Understanding your feelings about sex with other guys often changes over time. Sex with others may become more exciting. It is important for you to talk about these feelings, openly and honestly.

There is a small population of gay men who prefer to have an emotional connection with their sexual partners. This can be problematic for some open-relationship couples. It is possible to have an emotional connection with someone without it being a threat to your relationship. In the same way close friendships do not have to be a threat to your relationship. If one partner wishes to have an emotional and sexual connection, it can be more complicated, but open communication between both of you can address any concerns as they arise.

Just because sex with other guys can be complicated and ever changing, it can make discussions about sex more difficult. Openly discussing your sexual feelings and needs will build a stronger, deeper relationship.

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