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  • Writer's pictureMelisa De Seguirant

Improving Relationships by Adopting a Non-Monogamous Lens


What relationship wisdom does ethical non-monogamy have to offer monogamous people?  What practices and principles from ethical non-monogamy can be applied in monogamous or even platonic relationships? 


An ethically non-monogamous relationship structure is not going to be a right-fit for everyone, but everyone can benefit from the practices and principles ENM teaches!



Check out this guide for a few ideas to get you started...


 


Let’s normalize checking-in on your relationships, with regularity! 


One of the foundational tools of a solid ethical non-monogamy practice is the relationship check-in. It serves as an opportunity to review agreements, share wins, and connect in an intentional way about the overall health of the relationship.


But why should this practice be exclusive to non-monogamy?!



In the beginning of many monogamous relationships, agreements ARE typically communicated explicitly. Couples may discuss when they decide to become exclusive and adopt specific labels for one another, and even may agree to a specific schedule for their shared time together.


Too often, however, the explicit agreements and regular communication in monogamous relationships dies down as the relationship progresses. Couples start relying on assumptions based on the relationship escalator, instead of continuing to be intentional about checking-in on their evolving agreements.


Friendships, familial relationships and other platonic relationships can benefit from the same level of intentionality, but often get forgotten. Let’s not take those connections for granted… they are deserving of care and attention as well.


 

REFLECT ~ How might you start being more direct about facilitating check-ins and making agreements in your relationships?


 

Regardless of your relational style or structure, it might be a good idea to keep your options open when beginning to date. 


Having tunnel-vision when first pursuing a romantic relationship and overly fixating on one person at a time can put too much pressure on new connections. It also robs us of the opportunity to experience ourselves in the energy of different people, which is an important part of learning what we want, need or simply would benefit from in long-term connections. 


While it is probably not realistic for everyone to simultaneously date more than one person for an extended period of time, it is a reasonable practice to entertain multiple first, second, or even third dates before transitioning into a monogamous framework and honing in on any one connection.


Approaching dating from a non-monogamous stance, at least initially, can also be helpful in combating scarcity mindset. If we are being led by the idea that, “there’s nobody out there for me”, we can jump too quickly into committed relationships with people who aren’t the greatest fit for us, or worse are actually harmful. Scarcity mindset, low self-esteem and negative self-talk all can contribute to this pattern. If you find yourself in this place, do what you can to give yourself the support needed to address those feelings, and keep your options open with regards to dating.


 

If juggling schedules to facilitate multiple first dates sounds overwhelming,

try speed-dating! 


Search around your local community to see if any organizations are hosting speed-dating events. It’s a great way to begin to dip your toes into dating with multiple options, without a ton of expectation or pressure for commitment!


 


Don’t be fooled by the title, this tool is useful for monogamous people too, even if they don’t resonate with the words relationship anarchy!


The Relationship Anarchy Smörgåsbord has been developed over time, and can be applied in different ways to reflect upon and build relationships intentionally. The current version is credited to Maxx Hill, and can be downloaded in various languages at tinyurl.com/rasmorgasbord


The RA smörgåsbord is commonly used to help people in relationships compare notes and determine which areas they want to include in their connection. 


Another application of the Smörgåsbord is to use it individually. Are there any “dishes” you are wanting to connect within but currently lacking people to share them with? By merely glancing at it, it’s probably obvious that no one person is going to enjoy every dish with you. Use this tool to begin to visualize your relationships as a system, and to dismantle the idea of a hierarchy in which only one of your connections is deemed significant or the priority.


How might you use the smörgåsbord during your next relationship check-in? What other tools from ethical non-monogamy can you see yourself applying to your monogamous and platonic relationships?

Share your ideas in the comments!




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