Ethical Nonmonogamy | Polyamory

What’s in it for the mono person in the relationship?

A common scenario that leads to a poly + mono relationship is one where one person in an established, long-term monogamous couple learns about polyamory and brings it up to their partner as something they are interested in pursuing. Their partner, given all of the information, may choose to support this “experiment” but elects not to seek out additional partners for themselves.

The details might vary from relationship to relationship – perhaps it started with an infidelity that was discovered, or perhaps both partners experimented with nonmonogamy and one found that they didn’t enjoy it, or perhaps the monoamorous partner begrudgingly accepts their partner’s polyamory but or actively resents this aspect of their relationship.

That’s when the forensic relationship accounting begins. Someone (usually the mono person in the relationship) begins looking at the relationship the way an accountant might view a business profit and loss statement. They are able to clearly see the benefits for their polyamorous partner, and perhaps even for their newfound metamour – but on their own end, all they see are big red expenses.

This often leads to the question, “What does the mono partner get out of this?”

It’s easy to understand why someone might approach this new relationship dynamic this way, and to be fair – it’s not an entirely bad idea to check in and make sure that the relationship is still meeting your needs. After all, in most healthy relationships – leaving is always an option. If leaving is not an option, then there may be bigger problems in the relationship than polyamory.

But I say all this while still wanting to point out that for me, relationships aren’t transactional. I’m not trying to weigh the “what do I get out of this” against “what does he get out of this?” This isn’t a negotiation over a sale or a contract for my companionship.

If there is any comparison at all it is that of what I want in my relationship versus what I am getting in my relationship. What other people, including my partner, are getting is not part of the equation.

I acknowledge that there is a difference in my approach that may have something to do with the fact that this wasn’t a pre-established monogamous relationship that opened up. I’m not grappling with a comparison between what once was and what is now. When I met my partner, he was already in a relationship with two other people. I walked in with my eyes and my heart wide open.

I love him for who he is and has been the whole time I’ve known him. Full stop.

But no matter how you get involved in this relationship dynamic, it can be challenging to recognize the intangible opportunities that become available to you as a mono person in a relationship with an actively polyamorous partner. Instead of (or at the very least, in addition to) seeing the loss of sexual or emotional exclusivity and quality time with your partner, you might look to the opportunities this new paradigm presents.

Because there is an enormous lack of representation even within the polyamorous community of successful poly + mono relationship dynamics, I thought I would share my response to the question of “What’s in it for the mono person?”

I get to be with an amazing partner in the healthiest and most sexually satisfying relationship of my life.

I have free time to pursue my own interests and identity.

I have an incredible group of metamours that are my closest friends in the world.

I am able to live independently, which *is* a benefit for me.

I am making a new career out of it that fulfills me a hell of a lot more than what I used to do for a living.

I have increased self confidence and have learned how to set and communicate boundaries.

I’m no longer afraid to bring up things that are bothering me because we are really good at talking through those things.

Because of the diversity in our polycule and in my local polyam community, I’ve been exposed to new ideas and approaches to all kinds of things including life, art, politics, kink, music, hobbies, etc that have vastly influenced and enriched my own existence.

And, there is one other benefit that I rarely acknowledge, but have to admit is ever present as I continue to assess my relationship wants and needs. I am free to explore additional relationships myself if the opportunity and interest in doing so ever presents itself. While that’s not been a road I’ve traveled yet, it’s one that I know is there and would be willing to investigate under the right circumstances.

In other words, the benefit of exploring an additional relationship is open to me if I choose to take advantage of it. It’s the same benefit my partner has. Whether or not I take advantage of it is up to me.

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