Sexting, unlimited online porn, Ashley Madison, snap chat… The opportunities for sexual exploration seem limitless these days.
What’s a couple in a committed, ‘monogamous’ relationship to do?
Firstly lets accept the legitimacy of monogamy. As a society, we are increasingly realizing that monogamy is not for everyone and that non-monogamy is a perfectly legitimate relationship mode. I certainly feel that way, but I also firmly believe that there are many people for whom an exclusive, monogamous commitment is the right relationship model.
So for them – the monogamists – the rules of this brave new sexual world must seem pretty grey. So enter the ‘new monogamy’. Even the monogamists are recognizing that hard and fast rules around sexual exclusivity are a little tough to nail down. Fidelity expert Alexandra Katehakis, in a recent interview with Psychology Today, makes an excellent point that monogamy is really about having integrity in your relationship and about being honest with your partner. And in our sexualized world, it probably means having some discussions and an understanding of what is permissible in your monogamy. Some issues to explore:
- porn – can I, can I? For many this is a no brainer. Personally, I could never consider my partner’s porn predilections to be an infidelity or outside the rules of my relationship. But some do. Before you settle down with a bottle of lube and your laptop, it is good to know where your partner stands on porn. Many people have perfectly legitimate reasons to feel threatened, or insecure, about the relationship you may have with porn. Work it through.
- sexting – this one is tricky. Sharing sexual thoughts and images with another person can get pretty intimate, even if you never would or could have a physical relationship with that person in real life. To me, the reasons you sext are pretty important to discuss with your partner. If it is just an extended form or flirting and a way to bring porn to ‘real time’… probably no big deal. If it is filling an emotional or sexual gap you are not getting with your real life partner, maybe that’s an issue.
- hook up websites like Ashley Madison or Tinder. The fact is that the vast, vast majority of people on these sites never hook up with anyone physically. This still does not, necessarily, make it ok if your partner is surfing tinder every night. Like sexting, even if they are not hooking up with others, their motivation for being on these sites is important to understand (and agree to).
Monogamous relationships can be hot and healthy, but you need to navigate them well. Happy sailing.