Monogamy has never made sense to me, it’s never ‘clicked’. For a long time I was convinced there was something very wrong with me, that I was deviant and broken. Was I doomed to a life of emptiness and promiscuity? Would I end up a dusty spinster? Or worse yet, would I have to succumb to the nuclear family and white picket fence? It was a rude awakening when my young, romantic heart began to understand that how we love is a political and moral topic. Enter, Ethical Non Monogamy.
Monogamy is a choice
I can only presume that how I feel about monogamy is more or less how monogamists feel about non monogamy. It’s one of those things that is “for someone else”. It’s not necessarily wrong or bad, but it’s not something you’d consider doing. Since monogamy is the default, people often forget that it’s a choice. It’s so deeply ingrained and expected that we will find one true love and be together forever that most people don’t even consider that there could be another viable relationship model. And yet there is. There are many. To the shock and horror of many relationship traditionalists, non-monog people are thriving all around them!
Why I loathe the term Ethical Non Monogamy
The term Ethical Non Monogamy (ENM) is getting a lot of airplay these days. However I take umbrage with it. The word ‘ethical’ implies a relationship philosophy that prioritises transparency and honesty, ensuring that all parties are fully consenting and aware of the relationships they are analogous to. Lots of non monogamous people have adopted the label and feel empowered and confident in it, which is great, but that is not my personal experience. I don’t use ENM to describe myself or my relationships.
All my (non monogamous) relationships pass the ENM ‘test’, they all qualify as ‘ethical’ but I refuse to call them that. Perhaps I’d consider it if monogamous relationships were also labelled with qualifiers to defend their validity. But with divorce rates eclipsing the 50% mark and an estimated 40% of relationships being affected by adultery, maybe non monogamy is not the threat to the family unit that hardcore monogs want to believe it is. By adding ‘ethical’ I feel like I am pre-apologizing for how I live and how I love. This is who I am and how I have lived for 25 years. Additionally, it’s both defensive and redundant because there is no such thing as Unethical Non Monogamy. That’s just cheating.
For some, the term ENM provides clarity. For others, it is common language to navigate the dating world with, but for me, it just doesn’t feel right. And if I have learned anything in my quarter century of plural love, it’s that relationships are far from simple and you should never apologize for who, or how, you love.