No-Nonsense Non-Monogamy: How to be polyamorous in theory but monogamous in practice 


Exploring queerness, polyamory, and sexuality, with @ShrimpTeeth.

Author: Shrimp Teeth

How to be polyamorous in theory but monogamous in practice.

If the only reason you’re opening your relationship is that you recognize that one person can’t meet all your needs, you might not actually want to be polyamorous.

Let me offer some alternatives to compulsory monogamy that still maintains a mostly dyadic structure.

Artwork @ShrimpTeeth

People who’ve never been open often see relationship structures as black and white – either you’re monogamous or non-monogamous.

But there’s a whole load of structures and agreements in between that might be a better match for you.


You have to want multiple partners and metas to be poly. Recognizing the simple fact that one person can’t meet all your needs does not necessarily mean you want to sustain a multi-partner dynamic.

Not everyone is cut out to have more than one relationship, and that’s ok!


I hear a lot of couples who say they want to be polyam but would primarily benefit from deconstructing compulsory monogamy. There are ways to forge other connections by making time for more/deeper friendships. Or even exploring swinging/monogamish structures.

Swinging often gets a bad reputation in the polyam community because of the unexamined misogyny and homophobia that often accompanies these arrangements. But, like all structures, it can be done deliberately & ethically.


Swinging can be a good fit for a lot of established couples. For some, having the security of hooking up with another established couple can offer some reassurance and security in your own relationship.

Not to say that swinging is perfect, but it can feel safer for a lot of folks who have heightened relationship anxiety.


Being monogamish is another example. This means that you’re monogamous by default but open in certain explicit contexts.

You might have a once-a-year fling, hook up with a comet occasionally, or have a threesome. You only have sex outside of the relationship in limited instances.


Lastly, a lot of folks love the theory of polyamory but can’t get over the intensity of their sexual jealousy or aren’t interested in sex. Having queerplatonic relationships (or alterous if you’re straight) allows you to have other deep intimate connections that are non-sexual.


As polyamory emerges further into the mainstream, I’ve seen a lot of couples try being open without really wanting to be. It’s ok to recognize that you’re interested only in the theory and don’t want to practice!

Deliberate monogamy is an option. You can have flexibility. Way too often we think of monogamy only through the toxic/compulsory scripts.

You can have a relationship that’s primarily monogamous and also offers you the flexibility to have all the connections and occasional hook-ups you want, or not!


In your relationships, you’re allowed to expand your agreements.


Sam is a sex educator and artist who explores queerness, polyamory, and sexuality through their work. She’s passionate about exploring ways to broaden relationship structures to foster more connections between people. They use art and illustration as part of their education process.

No Nonsense Non Monogamy is brought to you by GLUE.

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