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Being monogamous with a non-monogamous partner

Ken Blackman
May 30, 2018 · 3 min read

It isn’t a rule that couples have to have the same set of rules for each other.

On I was asked to answer: “Can I have a monogamous relationship while my partner keeps a polygamous relationship?”

My response:

Yes. Here’s an example of how and why that can work.

My girlfriend and I started out dating casually, and then became serious. I wanted to keep the relationship open, which she hadn’t done before. She was uncomfortable with it but said yes, because of how great we were together.

No one was more surprised than she was to discover that, even though she was getting everything she wanted in the relationship, her attraction to other men didn’t just disappear. With full permission, support and a feeling of security in the relationship, she continued to connect with other men.

For the first time she started to feel in full ownership of her sexuality, and that she could have what she wanted and walk away from anything she didn’t.

Yet try as she might, she struggled to be ok with me seeing other women. We would talk, she would give a verbal ok, but I could feel how anxious and stressed out it made her.

There’s no reasoning with or getting around those feelings when they’re there. She genuinely wanted to be ok with it.

I don’t have a rule that says couples have to have the same set of rules for each other. It makes no sense: we have different wants and desires, and different trigger points. Fairness and tit-for-tat are poor stand-ins for mutual happiness.

It just wasn’t worth it to me to generate that much thrash in the relationship. So even though I technically had her go-ahead, I volitionally dialed back my activity to match her true ability to handle it.

Our relationship continued to blossom and deepen and eventually she was ok with me seeing other people. At that point there really wasn’t anyone else I felt drawn to be with. So it ended up that I was functionally monogamous, by choice, and she, the monogamous one, was seeing other guys. That was how we were both happiest and getting what we want in the relationship.

Copyright © 2018 by Ken Blackman. All rights reserved.

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About the author:

Ken Blackman has worked with hundreds of couples from San Francisco to Paris to Sydney, and trained thousands of students in his workshops on intimacy and connection. His work has received attention everywhere from Cosmopolitan to Business Insider to Playboy. With nearly two decades of experience, Ken’s powerful, unapologetic break from conventional relationship advice is shifting the world conversation around love and committed coupledom.

Sex + Connection

Direct, honest discourse on relationships, love, sex, and life

Ken Blackman

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Sex + Connection

Direct, honest discourse on relationships, love, sex, and life