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Is ethical non-monogamy the way to go? Maxim Magazine

Vanessa's July sex column for print issue of Maxim

Vanessa de Largie | July 2023 | Maxim Magazine

Admittedly, I’m a hardcore commitment-phobe. I don’t have a husband, a boyfriend or a child. I don’t own a pet, a car, a house or a tv. I don’t have any assets (except for the ones on my chest) and I don’t have a mobile phone because I didn’t recharge it for six months and Vodafone decided to disconnect my number. 

When you commit to anything in life – you naturally have to sacrifice in other areas. One could argue that commitments impinge upon one’s freedom. And my freedom means EVERYTHING to me. 

If I was to be completely honest, ethical non-monogamy (at first glance) appeals to me because it seems to be a less restrictive way to do life. The average Australian marriage lasts 12 years and less Australians than ever are choosing to tie the knot. 

Evolutionary anthropologist Kit Opie from the University College of London tells us through his research that primates (as early as 75 million years ago) primarily lived in isolation and only came together to screw, (sounds good to me!). 

Opie believes that monogamy in humans is a result of fathers trying to protect their infants from other men who could possibly kill them so they could fuck their mothers, (kinky).

Fast forward to 2023: We have DNA testing. We have medication for STDs so they can’t affect fertility. We have contraception. We have female independence. We have abortion. Yet most people are still stuck in this rut of monogamy – especially the religious Right. 

I have never been convinced that monogamy works. Monogamy is merely a social construct that once kept things in check but whether it has any real place in modern society is debatable. 

And whenever you ask couples why they decided to get married, they will say something cringeworthy like “I only have eyes for my other half”. 

Well if that’s the case and neither of you are interested in other parties – why do you need a legal agreement to cement your undying love in stone? Sounds dodgy to me.  Actually it sounds more like possession than true companionship. 

A study conducted by Lovehoney (a British sex-toy chain) in 2022, revealed that ethical non-monogamy is on the rise Down Under.  For those of you who don’t really have an understanding of what ethical non-monogamy is. It is best described by BetterHelp as: 

A relationship that is not exclusive between two people and may involve having multiple sexual or romantic relationships with the understanding and consent of all parties involved.”

In her book “Stepping Off The Relationship Escalator”, author Amy Gahran writes:

“The human mind tends to equate familiarity with safety. People often instinctively assume that something new, unfamiliar or unusual is more likely to prove dangerous or inferior.  Thus, it may feel daunting merely to contemplate the possibility of exploring an unusual or new path — even if a less popular approach might end up working much better. The people in a [non-monogamy] relationship are more important than the relationship.  [They] don’t treat people as things!”

I must say, this quote from Gahran’s book really resonated with me. What annoys me most about monogamous couples is the underlying “ownership” of the other person. You witness it on social media a lot. Date night photos, Valentine’s Day photos etc.  They all scream:  I OWN THIS PERSON AND I WANT YOU TO KNOW IT. 

Monogamy is neither physically natural (or genuine). Most people are monogamous because of conditioning and social stigma.  They don’t believe they have a choice.

I am here to tell them that THEY DO.