Welcome to my virtual therapy room! I am Dr Lori Beth Bisbey and this is Sex Spoken Here. Today we are beginning our discussion about non-monogamy. Joining me to explore this is Dr Meg-John Barker is a writer, therapist, and activist-academic specialising in sex, gender and relationships. Meg-John is a senior lecturer in psychology at the Open University and a UKCP accredited psychotherapist, and has over a decade of experience researching and publishing on these topics including the popular books Rewriting the Rules, The Secrets of Enduring Love and Queer: A Graphic History.
Welcome to the show. Let’s start with some definitions of non-monogamies. Meg-John spoke of definitions that run from fully monogamous in the strictest sense which may preclude having friends of the opposite gender through to monogamish in which a couple may say that kissing other people is OK or certain sexual acts are OK through open relationships where there is sex with others (including swinging, don’t ask don’t tell) through to polyamory where there are multiple romantic partners, mentioning polygamy (1 man multiple wives) and polyandry (1 woman multiple husbands). Meg-John spoke of how many different forms all of these can take and spoke of relationship anarchy where people don’t prioritise any type of relationship and also solo polyamory where someone considers their primary relationship to be with themselves. Meg-John made the point that relationships are like fingerprints, completely individual and that people can and should construct the relationships that work for them.
I note the new research on sexual orientation that sees orientation as flowing over a number of axes instead of just heterosexual to homosexual. How do non-monogamies fit here? Meg-John replied that non-monogamies can be seen as part of the sexuality and sexual orientation spectrum. They spoke about the work of Sari Van Anders on polyamory and how many people see non-monogamy as one axis that is part of sexual orientation spectrum and that this can be fluid over the life time.
We discussed the statistics in relation to monogamy and non-monogamy and highlighted that if one looks worldwide non-monogamy is more usual and that in the west if one includes non-consensual non-monogamy (like affairs and flings), then non-monogamy is also the norm.
Meg-John and I both agreed and repeatedly highlighted that there is no one way to have a relationship and that it is essential that education talk about the many possible ways to be in relationship and highlight that none of them are right or wrong rather a style may be right or wrong for you.
In part two, we talk about some of the practicalities of non-monogamy.
You can find Dr Meg-John Barker at:
Website: http://www.rewriting-the-rules.com. Twitter: @megjohnbarker.
Thanks for joining me this week for Sex Spoken Here with Dr Lori Beth Bisbey. Write to me with suggestions for the show, questions you want answered at firstname.lastname@example.org, follow me on twitter @drbisbey. For a free 30 minute strategy session with me, go to https://www.the-intimacy-coach.com and click the button that says Schedule Now! I look forward to seeing you next week for part 2 of this series.