dating / Desire / evolutionary psychology / Infidelity / Long Term Relationships / Marriage / media / Sex in the news

Are we meant to be non-monogamous?

Hey Friends! I’m in Africa for a couple weeks. So this is an classic column that first ran in 2010.

Questions? Comments? Violent reactions? Email or tweet @timaree_leigh See more at and

Question to the Sexpert:

“For a long time I felt this way. Thankfully my fiancee is the shit and we both kind of admitted being scared of only being with one person for the next 50 years, so we made some “changes”. It has honestly made our relationship stronger and more loving to “date as a couple” (in her words). Anywho….thought you might want to give your 2 cents on this link.”

If only every book was marketed as well as this one. I’ve gotten more links to articles that reference this new book than any other in all my years as a sexpert. People really want to talk about polyamory (multiple lovers) and non-monogamy.

They want to start the conversation about how they really feel and how real relationships actually work, putting aside all the niceties and politeness of eternal, unblinking monogamous true love. Without getting slapped.

The folks who have sent me pieces on this topic have predominately been folks who are married or committed long-term, people who express no interest in breaking up with their current partner but who, despite their deep and abiding feelings and devotion, want to be able to bang other people…. and not have it be, like, a thing.

And if this starts the conversation, I’m ecstatic. Because here we are bringing up multiple topics that often go under-discussed.

  • Communicating your desires honestly and completely to your partner without fear
  • Normalizing the experience of being in love with one person but attracted to (or in love with) others
  • Finding the right style for YOUR relationship in all matters, regardless of what other people do or what seems like you should be doing.

These are worthy topics! This is shit you should be able to talk about because it is shit you are thinking about. No relationship can survive happily unless and until you have found a way to deal with each one of those points.

But here’s what this is NOT:

  • This is not science providing an explanation for being a dick to your partner.
  • This is not a chance to go, “See? See!  I told you! It’s natural! It’s right and healthy to want to sleep with other people! So stop being such a ballsack about it.”
  • This is not conclusive proof of anything and to make the logical leap that because humans historically did something that this is what we should do.

Why do I bring up these buzzkill caveats?

Because for every couple that could be better, stronger and more resilient because they open up their sexuality, there is a couple where one partner is cajoling the other against their will into a non-monogamous set-up that will ultimately spell their end.

And for every person who learns that there is a world of possibilities outside of the compulsory state of suburban heterosexual monogamy, there is a person who thinks this book provides a perfect cover for their narcissism-fueled drive for impersonal, intimacy-free sex.

Being an ethical slut is about being honest, fair and wanting everyone to be happy, not looking to see what you can get away with while still keeping a reliable partner around.

And evolutionary psychology provides invaluable information explaining why we do things and what drives might be behind our inexplicable behavior. I, for one, consider it one of the most fundamental building blocks of my scientific perspective on sociology and psychology. But it is built on looking back retrospectively to a humanity that no longer exists and a world in which we modern people could never survive.

Yes, this book shows us that we don’t have to follow one path in our lives and gives evidence that humans have not always been the creatures of confined routine that they are today. We are not robots who must find one person and pair off forever and beat ourselves up if it doesn’t work perfectly.

But we are also not cave people. We live in houses now, with wifi and microwave ovens. Most of us do not hunt our meals or try desperately to survive past the age of 35. So take from this what you can, expand your horizons and include some new info in your noggin. But don’t get it twisted.

Questions? Comments? Violent Reactions? Email Timaree at See more at

3 thoughts on “Are we meant to be non-monogamous?

  1. I LOVE this piece, but really I like most of your articles. But this is unique in a way that speaks to me as someone who is seeking a relationship that works for the 2 people in it and has NOTHING to do with what anyone else thinks or does. I am a firm believer in REAL conversation and get continually frustrated that we live in a society where so many are terrified of ANY type of real, honest dialogue. I hope this piece reaches many, many people and that when they come across it they find themselves asking themselves honest questions and finding what they are looking for, whatever that is 🙂

  2. Pingback: Are Humans Naturally Monogamous: Podcast! « Sex with Timaree

  3. I feel more comfortable in a monogomous relationship, HOWEVER, I arrived at this conclusion after some honest soul searching and experimenting. I like that you said that non-monogamy is not for everyone. Sometimes people who are pro-polyamory are so zealous about their cause, that they fail to acknowledge that it’s not for everyone. …although the MOST IMPORTANT point in this entire topic is to be completely honest with your partner. It’s tough, but worth it.

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