Facebook Memories personally attacked me earlier this month by reminding me of an important anniversary—the last time I changed my relationship status to “In a Relationship.” Seven years ago.
My ideal lover would want to share our rife and intense sex life with multiple partners, but I used to feel intense pressure from friends and family to find a more traditional, monogamous mate. I never followed through with commitment in the past, even when a boy I wanted to date proposed monogamy to me. I said yes but quickly backpedaled. I remembered the reason why I stayed single all these years: I’m attracted to people of all genders, and I do not want to commit to enjoying just one.
On my journey from desperately trying to get a boyfriend to realizing that I didn’t want one, I learned to prioritize a potential partner’s sexual preferences when considering long-term relationships. I stopped chasing a perfect love story that mirrors a picture of romance painted by popular media and reinforced by my Catholic upbringing—love is exclusive, love is modest, and love brings a lot of missionary sex. I want to spend my life with partners who are just as freaky as I am, and I think clear communication surrounding one’s sexual desires should be a priority for everyone to ensure a healthy, sustainable relationship where sex is a highlight, not a pitfall.
A desire to frequently have sex with other people, or any other need that doesn’t align with a partner’s boundaries, can cause contention and jealousy among couples, whether or not they act on it. Communicative partners with similar needs can better figure out how to satisfy each other sexually and emotionally.
Dating someone who shares the same preferences creates a happier and more fulfilled relationship, senior Jeremy Ray Delgadillo said. Both Ray Delgadillo and their girlfriend of five months identify as pansexual and polyamorous, which means they’re willing to take on additional romantic partners.
The live-in, open couple sometimes brings people home from clubs or swipes through Tinder together. In the bedroom, their shared high sex drive and interest in BDSM helps them avoid feeling embarrassed or self-conscious, Ray Delgadillo said.
“I’m fully aware it was fast, but with her also being poly and open, it’s rare to find someone who’s just like you in that sense,” Ray Delgadillo said. “Our sex life is very open, and we’re okay with that.”
Before meeting their current partner, Ray Delgadillo had a boyfriend who agreed to a non-monogamous relationship but wasn’t genuinely enticed by the idea of sharing his partner. While their boyfriend compromised what he wanted to satisfy their needs, he didn’t desire an open relationship, which ended in a mutual breakup.
“He was okay with me being poly but it centrally didn’t make him feel good,” Ray Delgadillo said. “My boyfriend was not happy. He allowed me to do it … but if he could have their way, it would just be me and him.”
On the other end, some people who desire multiple partners enter monogamous commitments anyway—I will admit I’ve kissed a lot of boys with girlfriends in my many years of Tinder hookups. I don’t condemn cheating or breaking promises, but I do empathize with adulterers because I think many cheaters who want to engage in sex with more than one person struggle with the pressure to find a sole life companion.
It’s hard to feel like you’re looking for something different than everyone else, plus you’re seen as a harlot for wanting it in the first place. Sex is stigmatized, so especially as a woman, I feel guilty for prioritizing sex over love despite understanding my own desires. I feel bad that I’m not searching for a monogamous partner because I’m not working toward the nuclear family I was taught to want. This guilt built a home deep inside me from the time I dressed in a tiny white gown to play pretend wedding in pre-K, to when I watched my high school friends’ boyfriends get down on one knee.
Beyond traditional Western values that condemn promiscuity, portrayals of polyamory and monogamy in the media further perpetuate negative stereotypes. Shows such as Californication and Mad Men negatively portray non-monogamy by glamorizing playboys and cheating. Many people negatively associate polyamory with large Mormon families with multiple sister wives or cults and don’t take the idea seriously, Ray Delgadillo said.
Despite stigmas and poor representation, young people are changing the dating landscape. An estimated 4 to 5 percent of people in the United States are polyamorous, while another study found at least 20 percent of people engaged in non-monogamy at some point in their lives, according to Fatherly. Ray Delgadillo thinks there are a surprising number of non-monogamous, kinky people out there, especially within the LGBTQ+ community.
“If you’re fooling around behind your trustworthy, loyal partner’s back who’s never done anything to hurt you, just break up with them then and be non-monogamous with someone else,” Ray Delgadillo said.
Since I don’t want to limit myself to one sexual partner, I need to express my disinterest in monogamy to people looking for an exclusive commitment. Whether you want a kinky queen you’ll never get bored of, a vanilla cutie to cuddle all night long, or one of each, start every connection with open, honest communication, and it’s possible to find a partner who shares your exact fantasies.
If you don’t know what or who you want, take a few months off from searching for the one to experiment with your sexuality and spend time alone. I stayed single for seven years and counting because I needed time to reimagine an old-fashioned definition of love that I learned from fairytales and romantic comedies. What will it take to meet someone just like you? I wish I knew. But I believe somewhere there’s some weirdo out there scrolling through the same niche porn site you’re embarrassed for frequenting.