Boredom, Temptation and Monogamy

Is more than one partner bad for you?

Issue #47

By Vivienne Arkell

“In a world where so many long-term relationships suffer much more from monotony and habituation than from unsettling feelings like jealousy, this erotic wrath may serve a purpose,” explores Esther Perel in her book The State of Affairs: Rethinking Infidelity. Midlife crisis happens. Familiarity breeds boredom and the paradox of more love less sex is also real. Yet what are the alternatives? Why do we hold back and stop at one.

In her first book Mating in Captivity, Perel gives some solid insights for keeping monogamy hot. In Passionate Marriage: Keeping Love and Intimacy Alive in Committed Relationships, author David Schnarch PhD also sheds light on the subject. But for those who have tried all the conventional fixes, might non-monogamy be a route towards personal growth, even strengthening the original partnership? While this looks like a route to disaster for many, Robin Rinaldi boldly explains her fulfilling journey exploring the paradox of security versus adventure in The Wild Oats Project. She shares this:

“As loaded as adultery is with sorrow and guilt, there’s a reason people continue to practice it. It was so incredibly satisfying to find myself regularly traveling the two poles that rounded out my life – stability and passion – instead of withering away in the cold security of one or burning to dust in the flames of the other. How fully they balanced me. How often I daydreamed of having two husbands, of letting each of them also have two wives. Not an endless polyamorous supply, just two.”

Before judging Rinaldi too harshly, Mirror of Intimacy author Alexandra Katehakis reminds us to keep an open mind. “In our highly repressed, conformist culture, praise of monogamy may be loaded: it is routinely touted by some factions of society as being morally superior to other lifestyles such as polyamory or open relationships. Yet in reality, society consists of many different kinds of people with varying needs and ways of being happy.”

Veteran experts Janet W. Hardy and Dossie Easton continue the thought in the third edition of their classic The Ethical Slut. They write how “it may be helpful to remember that all relationships change through time: people’s needs and desires shift according to age and circumstance, and the most successful long-term relationships are the ones with enough flexibility to redefine themselves over and over again through the years.”

Hardy and Easton delve into the complexities and benefits of every conceivable version and rule pertaining to non-monogamy and give incredible insight into open relationships and the growing acceptance. They admit that having so many choices can be both empowering and exhausting, plus jealousy is real and difficult to overcome. Yet they confirm that “people who have already made the journey cite benefits like sexual variety, less dependence on a single relationship, or a sense of belonging to a network of friends, lovers, and partners.”

If you are striving and thriving within the confines of monogamy, kudos! Pass this on to your sisters in need of new inspiration and options. Opening yourself up to consensual non-monogamy, whether with one extra partner or multiple loving relationships, requires research, reading, a willingness to accept vulnerability and more.

Questioning deep core beliefs about monogamy might be tough, yet maybe it’s time to be honest and open with yourself and test the waters. For true personal growth, some lessons need to be lived not just read about – especially when it comes to sensual pleasure, human connection and love.

To learn more about these books and other recommendations, visit the bookshop.

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