‘I Want Us to Sleep with Other Peo­ple’

Cosmopolitan (South Africa) - - CONTENT - BY KATIE HEANEY

First comes love, then comes … see­ing other peo­ple? A grow­ing group of 20- and 30some­things is turn­ing their back on hap­pily ever af­ter with one per­son, and rewrit­ing the rules of re­la­tion­ships as we know them

So­cial me­dia and dat­ing apps make the poly life­style easy. On­line, you can meet just about any type of per­son, ready for just about any kind of re­la­tion­ship. The dat­ing plat­form OkCupid, for ex­am­ple, lets users choose from 12 pos­si­ble sex­ual iden­ti­ties and 22 dif­fer­ent gen­der op­tions, and lets them spec­ify whether they’re look­ing for sex, ro­mance, friend­ship, or a lit­tle bit of each from one or mul­ti­ple part­ners. ‘I don’t think there’s any­thing wrong with monogamy,’ says Clare, 31, who’s in a con­sen­sual non-monog­a­mous (CNM) re­la­tion­ship with her hus­band and oth­ers. ‘But peo­ple tend to see it as a de­fault set­ting or a re­quire­ment. It’s of­ten pre­sented as the only ra­tio­nal and ac­cept­able way to have a com­mit­ted re­la­tion­ship – but I think that there are def­i­nitely other pos­si­bil­i­ties.’

Clare and her young poly peers are the first to ad­mit that the new non-monogamy is not for ev­ery­one. Even as they turn their back on tra­di­tional rules, they are im­pro­vis­ing a set of CNM guide­lines. Those want­ing to test the wa­ters should…

1 Stay open to ex­per­i­men­ta­tion

For the new non-monogamists, re­la­tion­ships are a jour­ney, not a place to park your­self un­til death do you part. ‘Young peo­ple to­day have a de­sire to work on them­selves through health trends such as yoga or med­i­ta­tion,’ says re­la­tion­ship ther­a­pist Rhonda Mil­rad. So it makes sense they’re look­ing for ro­man­tic set­ups that also en­cour­age per­sonal growth.

‘CNM helps me get to know my­self bet­ter sex­u­ally and find new things that turn me on,’ says Lucy, 30, of her life­style with boyfriend Collen. So far, she’s dis­cov­ered she likes hav­ing three­somes with her BF and an­other woman with sex­ual de­sires sim­i­lar to her own. (‘It just dou­bles the en­ergy,’ she says.) Melanie, 28, can re­late: ‘In the past cou­ple of years, I’ve got more into kink and BDSM,’ she says. ‘Since my part­ner is not that into it, one ma­jor ben­e­fit of non-monogamy is that I feel free to ex­plore that part of my­self.’ She now has sex with two other men once or twice a month.

2 Know that it’s not just about sex

Or about sex­ual thrillseek­ing. CNM may also come with se­ri­ous emo­tional con­nec­tions, es­pe­cially be­cause young peo­ple are now mar­ry­ing later in life. It’s es­ti­mated that one-third of Mil­len­ni­als will re­main un­hitched at age 40 – and the thought of de-pri­ori­tis­ing the other re­la­tion­ships they have de­vel­oped along the way can be un­ap­peal­ing. ‘ The en­tire rea­son I de­cided to live polyamorously was be­cause of a friend­ship, not be­cause of sex,’ says Genevieve, 38, who has a hus­band – and a longterm girl­friend. ‘I had a best friend who was more than a best friend. She felt like a soul mate. We loved be­ing to­gether and didn’t want to stop once we got “se­ri­ous part­ners”.’

Like­wise, Kelli, 34, says CNM of­fers more sta­bil­ity, not less. ‘I have a com­mu­nity of peo­ple I go to when I’m cry­ing,’ she says. ‘I don’t go to a new lover when I need sup­port. We’ve just been f*ck­ing – they have no idea how to sup­port me emo­tion­ally.’

The date was amaz­ing. He did that thing I re­ally like.

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