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A Conversation on Commitment and Monogamy

More American couples are pulling away from the norm of monogamy. According to researchers, 1 in 3 people say their ideal relationship is non-monogamous. Data also shows 23 percent of adults are in a non-monogamous relationship, to some degree, and 12 percent of adults have had sex with someone outside of their relationship with their partner’s consent.

Navigating a committed relationship without monogamy could be difficult for some couples, but it’s not impossible. Some people are content with their partners engaging in sexual activity with others, but draw the line at developing romantic or emotional connections with someone else. If monogamy is not for you, it’s crucial to be honest about your desires with your potential partner prior to getting into a relationship.

Transcript

Dr. Judy:

Opinions. We all have them, especially when it comes to love and sex. So what happens when two people get to share their opinions in an open and honest conversation, maybe they learn something about the other person and maybe they learn something about themselves. I'm Dr. Judy and this is Well, In My Opinion.

Today, we're asking the question, can you have commitment without monogamy?

Skyler:

We're psychopaths.

Nicole:

We're psychopaths. We would go—no.

Skyler:

Yeah. I learned that the hard way.

Nicole:

Yeah, no.

Skyler:

I may or may not have messed up during a relapse, but you know. So quick, quick question, since we're going a little dark, when you found out, was there a side of you that got like you…

Nicole:

The sick side of me was like, "Oh, Whoa, what does that look like?"

Skyler:

[Sings] "Getting to know you, getting to know all about you."

Nicole:

But the real side of me was like, "Fuck that, I'm going to kill him and her."

Skyler:

I think it's pretty important.

Nicole:

I think monogamy is important.

Skyler:

But I think a little cheating in the first six months makes people kinda like…

Nicole:

Oh, well that was definitely his… that was his plan.

Skyler:

It wasn't a plan.

Nicole:

Nah, you wanted to make, you knew that I needed to chase.

Skyler:

Oh yeah I wanted you to find my phone on Christmas morning, 2008, see I was texting two other girls and then beat the shit out of me. That's really what I wanted, which happened.

Nicole:

I didn't beat the shit out of you. I threw my lamp at your head.

Skyler:

I did.

Nicole:

And you deserved it.

Skyler:

You did throw a lamp.

Nicole:

I think everyone would say yes.

Skyler:

Honestly though, I never had mental health issues until you threw that. [laughs]

Nicole:

Oh shut the… that's not true. [laughs] I made him leave and he refused to leave. I kicked him out of my house, and like a puppy dog, he stayed at my front door. I'm like…

Skyler:

It was Christmas morning! There were presents with my name on it. Yeah. I stayed. It wasn't about you; I wanted to see what you got me!

Nicole:

You're psycho.

Skyler:

Yeah. We know a couple right now. They moved a girl in and like, I had so many questions.

Nicole:

Married couple, a husband and a wife.

Skyler:

She's always been bi[sexual]

Nicole:

And they decided to throw another woman.

Skyler:

And I go, "Wait a minute, but are you only allowed to, does she get, does your wife, your first wife get to just hook up with this new girl and you together?" He was like, "no, I'm allowed to take either one of them out on a solo date, do whatever I want with them and do stuff with them together. And they also hook up in front of me." And I was like, that's, that's amazing. I mean..

Nicole:

It takes a certain type of person, you're not that person.

Skyler:

But honestly, oh no, no…

Nicole:

I kissed a girl once and you and you got so jealous.

Skyler:

She kissed a girl once and I didn't like it, Katy Perry. Um, yeah, I got really jealous. I do sometimes think of like someone else having sex with you just to get mad and turned on at the same time.

Nicole:

Yeah. That's I think that's normal. Especially when you've been with someone so long, it's like, you need some sort of excitement.

Skyler:

I didn't think I needed psychiatric help until I started realizing I mostly picture Ned Beatty having sex with you. Way to lose the millennials.

Nicole:

I don't know who that is.

Skyler:

Yeah, of course you don't.

Dr. Judy:

In a world where one in three people feel that their ideal relationship would be nonmonogamous, to some degree at least, a much smaller percentage of the population is actually living that lifestyle. Roughly one in ten adults in the US have had sex outside of their relationship with the consent of their current partner, a number of which might sound pretty high or maybe pretty low, depending on your personal preferences.

Tanya:

I'm not polyamorous, but I understand it. Um, and you can definitely, definitely be committed to more than one person. And I think it can work. I think a lot of times it works better than monogamy simply because in polyamorous relationships, it's transparent. It's honest. Everybody knows what everybody's doing. Everybody knows what everybody wants. That's the whole point of it that you are ethical in your non-monogamy because a lot of people are polyamorous, but they're lying, you know, they're cheating. And it's like, that's what's destroying relationships. If you can be honest about that, then, you know, you'd be surprised at how many people would be like, uh, partners would be like, okay, you know, and, and you work it out together.

Hana:

I think if anything, it can help people commit to each other even more, because then it takes away the pressure of "I'm going to be with the person for the rest of my life. Oh, but she's still hot. Oh my God. I want to do this." And it makes you want to do it more because you can't, you know. I've gotten cheated on before. Right. And it was funny cause it was never the act that bothered me. It was the lying part. Cause then it was like, you're making me feel like I'm crazy for thinking this. And it's like, if you would've just told me I could have been doing my thing too. Right. You know, or at least I would've known, you know.

Tanya:

It can't be just be one person doing this thing. "I told you I wanted other women." "Yeah, but I didn't agree to that!"

Hana:

It's also about like speaking up for your wants and needs because you don't want to just be like, "Oh yeah, I'm cool with having a polyamorous relationship, but you're low key monogamous." We just want to keep your partner happy. So you'll let them. See, you can't do that. Like if you're in a polyamorous relationship, the only way it's going to work is if both people genuinely wanting. If you have any doubts, you should not do it. Same thing with a threesome. I knew somebody that was in a polyamorous [relationship.]. It was three of them; it was one guy and two girls.

Tanya:

That's usually the case.

Hana:

How it ended, and this is how it usually always ends, there's always two people that end up together, like hanging out a little bit more texting outside of the group chat.

Tanya:

There's always going to be that dynamic of, do you love this person more than me? It's interesting. You have to be able to navigate people and relationships better than if you were even, you know, in a monogamous relationship.

Hana:

Honestly you have to put more trust in a polyamorous relationship than a monogamous one in a way. You know, it's funny. I'd actually never looked at it that way before.

Tanya:

You can be committed and have a successful unit without being, you know, monogamous.

Hana:

Mm.

Dr. Judy:

Commitment without monogamy is a tricky concept, but it's not impossible. I've personally worked with couples in my private practice who have had essentially open relationship sexually, but are very committed to one another in terms of a romantic and emotional connection.

At the end of the day, it's really all about what the two partners want. You have to be honest with one another. And I think the biggest problem is when one person changes their mind halfway into the relationship. So, when they started dating, they were on the same page about monogamy, but then 10 years down the line, one partner wants to reinvent the rules. And that can cause a lot of resentment and also hurt feelings.

I'm Dr. Judy and this has been “Well, In My Opinion.”

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