It’s Friday night at my local gay bar and I hear, “So… are you guys open?” It is a valid question to ask and might even be a sign that someone is into me – or into my husband, who I still cannot believe I pulled more than six years ago now. Yet, I am hesitant to answer, since I have come to dread the reactions my answer usually provokes. “I’m happily married!”
Casual small talk quickly turns into a form of contemporary activism once you disclose your relationship status to fellow queers, who often happen to be passionate polygamists. To which I say: Love that. For you. In a time where exciting relationship models are more socially acceptable and the number of sexual possibilities has become virtually endless, I could not help but wonder: Has queer monogamy gone completely out of fashion?
The Crux of Queer Men and Non-Monogamy
The truth is, it might actually have. The queer community has a historically double-bound relationship towards non-monogamy: Queerness is associated with and celebrated for sexual exploration and promiscuity within the LGBTQIA2S+ community – a sexual freedom that is often still demonised by outsiders. For many, monogamy represents a form of patriarchal oppression, shaming of queer sexuality and, worst of all, the dysfunctional relationships of our straight relatives. And rightfully so! We did not fight for individual acceptance just to collectively default to monogamy. Queer rejection of this aspect of heteronormativity does not only have to do with your choice of sexual partners, it is also a very political and identity-establishing statement. And for those who are cut out for it, it is a fabulous way of life.
However, polyamory, open relationships, or cruising are not ideal for everybody’s emotional well-being. Urban dating and relationship culture can make commitment to one person challenging, what with dating apps and cities teeming with new potential dating partners. Among cis gays specifically, consenting to a non-monogamous relationship sometimes results from the lack of willing partners for a monogamous one.
Admitting you are looking for a monogamous relationship is a valid desire some may feel ashamed of considering so many of our contemporary queer spaces are focused on challenging monogamy as part of heteronormativity. As always, sexual freedom and joy comes down to conscious choice and consent. Make sure the lines of communication about relationship preferences are, pun intended, open. And while monogamy does not have the best reputation, it may still be a good fit for you.
How to Keep Monogamous Sex Exciting
Let us say you have found a new interest in monogamy. Now the burning question becomes: How can monogamous sex and love possibly be as exciting as with multiple partners? As someone who talks about this topic a lot – not just at bars, but also within my marriage – I have come up with some key points I deem essential to make monogamy work. It is all about being clear on your why and how.
1. Monogamy should be chosen and not resorted to as a default.
2. Focus on creation rather than limitation.
Thinking about monogamy as constricting will inevitably lead to frustration. And might be the sign it is not for you. If you believe in monogamy, though, try to focus on the things you are building together rather than reminding yourself of its limitations. Plus, make sure to explore fantasies, settings, and other types of novelty to enrich your sex life on a regular basis.
3. Do not police your partner’s personal sexuality.
You cannot always nor need to satisfy every sexual fantasy your partner may have. And that is ok. Fantasies, masturbation, and pornography are a part of most relationships, both open and closed. While these things can be shared and enjoyed together, they do not have to be. Make sure to respect your partner’s boundaries and, vice versa, make sure you make time for your own self-pleasure.
4. Find new depths within your intimacy that only time and dedication can provide.
Lastly, this tip does not exclusively apply to monogamy but is worth mentioning. Sharing a sex life long-term makes your partner(s) receptive for creating physical sensations not even you knew about. You have explored each other for years and understand how you function sexually. All that experience and knowledge can bring you to places you did not dare dream of. Human sexuality is complex and obscure – continuous curiosity will open whole new worlds for you.
Queer Monogamy Has Entered the Chat?
With such a liberating variety of romantic, sexual, and intimate connections available, we tend to forget that monogamy can be exciting too. Due to its problematic history, monogamy and queerness have a difficult relationship to this day. Pop cultural discourse about polyamory and open relationships thus answers many people’s yearnings for experiences and connections outside of the ordinary. Which is an achievement in and of itself.