Aligning is part of the maintenance

In my practice, I notice on a regular basis that partners are having relationship-issues because they think differently about certain “relationship-word”. Obviously, there are different opinions about complicated words such as “polyamory”… but one of the more complicated words often appears to be… “monogamy”!
Perhaps it seems like an easy to understand term on a site as this one -where we talk about quite complicate social interactions all the time- but “monogamy” is not always that easy between kinksters. Let’s have a better look at it.

What is monogamy?

If you want to give a monogamous couple a scare about the self-evidence of their relationship, then I would advise the following. Ask them: “are you monogamous or polyamorous?”

There is a big chance that they will answer with something along the lines of “obviously we are monogamous!”

And this is where the fun starts. Ask them if they separately want to write down the boundaries and limitations of which they think that is obvious in monogamy.
I mean, everything has its limits, right? And I am not even referring to the fact that somewhere between a third and half of all marriages end up in a divorce, and not seldom because of “cheating”. The difficult thing about this is that this kind of cheating was not always completely clear for the cheater. Where do you draw the line of monogamy?

Sometimes, it’s clear as day, but sometimes the transgression isn’t that clear, more a bit of a misunderstanding and then someone ends up really upset while the other doesn’t really feel as if there is a reason to feel guilty. So that’s when I start asking the clarifying questions.

Complicated examples

While you’re out, can you look at an attractive person or can’t you do that at all anymore? Are you actually monogamous when you’re masturbating and thinking about your own partner? And is it still monogamous when you think about someone else instead of your own partner?

Silly questions? You’d be amazed how many people think that their partners are not allowed to touch their own private parts as soon as rings have been exchanged.

But if we consider things such as masturbation: are you still being monogamous if you’re reading a sexual magazine or when you watch online porn?

Whilst we are on the subject of the internet anyway, are you still monogamous if you’re mailing or chatting with someone else? And which subjects are a taboo and what is still allowed?

What about camming? What happens if clothes are being kept on at one end and are being taken off at the other end? And is it still monogamous when you’re having a professional chat where you pay someone to give you pleasure? Is that ‘safer’ or is that something completely wrong? Would it have been better if someone would have done it for free?

Physicality plays a role of course. So are you still being monogamous when you give an attractive person a hug?

Are you still being monogamous when you kiss someone on the cheek? Or on the mouth? Or in the neck?

Are you actually still being “monogamous” if you talk about intimate things all night with someone else besides your own partner? And would that be different if you talk all night about the things you are missing in your current relationship?

Can you also be non-monogamous when it comes to sharing emotions or intimacy? And is there any difference between being a man or a woman when it comes to that?

And where is the line between an innocent flirt and making love? Are you still being monogamous when a bit of touching and petting is involved? Or do you lose your monogamy when a hand job was involved?

Is it still monogamous to fuck someone else who is not the same gender as his/her partner? And what about sharing the bed with someone of the same gender as the partner? And when the new partner is a transgender? Or is it still being monogamous when you have one meaningless fuck? Or when it comes to professional fucking?

“It didn’t mean anything” is something you often hear when it comes to this.

Or is it not about the fucking itself, but it is non-monogamous to sleep together even when there was no fucking taking place? When does monogamy end for the both of you? At a camping party or at a business trip to a hotel in Paris?

You’ll be surprised at how big the differences are when people come to talk to me. And you’d also be surprised about how this can gradually change during a marriage, without a word being spoken.


Talking about this is not always easy, but it’s better to talk about it beforehand then talk about it “afterwards” when things already went wrong.

No, it’s not like “nothing happens” in hindsight when people are not talking about it. Even when it seems that people can look at things very differently when it comes to things like “We’re just not gonna talk about it” and “Don’t ask, don’t tell”.

In the end, you’ll be way better in functioning as a couple when you know how things are for the both of you, or even that things are different for the both of you at the moment.

That is why I advise couples to talk to each other in an easy and honest way, once a year -or at least every other year, about the question “What does “monogamy” mean for US in our relationship?” Align your ideas.

How do we look now at these things, as a couple? Has anything changed in the last year?

Monogamy also needs a bit of maintenance once in a while. Changing your oil, changing the filters, adjusting the ignition and in this context, especially: aligning (by asking questions)

Give each other room and love,

Read more articles by Hans here.

Hans has over a quarter of a century of experience in the mental health sector. Hans is a certified physiotherapist, psychotherapist and relationship coach. The debilitating effects of shame and taboos have always had his attention.


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