Why I will never promise to be monogamous

Staying monogamous takes a lot of effort. And even when both partners in a couple are keeping to the rules, suspicions can arise and have a corrosive effect on the relationship. But even apart from these issues, I have another, more basic problem with monogamy.

If I promised to love only one person until death, I would be saying ‘never again’ to the experience of falling in love.

Never again to wallow in that delicious agony of lusting after someone.

Never again to experience the miracle of finding they lust after me too.

Never to flirt.

Never to kiss lips I haven’t kissed before (or at least only friendly kisses, not proper snogs).

Never to discover a new lover’s body, marvelling in its uniqueness, the way they respond or move or touch.

As I am also a bisexual woman, being monogamous with a man would mean ruling out all future sexual contact with a woman. And promising monogamy with a woman means the even more unthinkable suggestion of never again having sex with a man.

How can anyone volunteer for this? Does anyone really think about it this way when they make a promise to be monogamous? I can only conclude that for many people it is an intention not a certainty. Or even wishful thinking, or blind optimism, or self-deception. Or are some people even lying when they make the promise, knowing they don’t really mean it?

‘Oh no’, you may say, ‘for me it was easy, I knew I would never need anyone but my partner for the rest of my life’. Well, if so, I’m delighted for you and your partner, and good luck with never needing anyone for the years to come. My feeling, though, is that you are in the minority.

For me it is not monogamy itself that is problematic. I have been monogamous in practice for a year or two on several occasions; in other words I have had only one partner, and had sex with only them. But promising to be monogamous is another thing altogether. I tried once and lasted three months before ending the relationship. As long as I know I’m not ruling out possibilities in the future, I can live without these possibilities for the time being. But I couldn’t promise to be the exclusive lover, for the long term, of just one person.

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