Sam wrote: “I had a question that’s been bugging me a lot lately. I know that people can be in whatever relationship they want and all that.
But monogamy has always been important for me. The problem is that I keep hearing people say things about how hard monogamy is and how you can’t expect a partner to want you that much or whatever. But I’ve found a lot of freedom in knowing that whatever happens, my partner is focused on me in that area of our lives. It also used to give me a feeling of safety and self confidence. Like I’ve been sick and don’t feel as much pressure because I can’t have sex, or I know that if my partner did anything behind my back they would have just broken up with me so the fact that they’re still there is proof that everything is okay.
Last year that changed a lot because I was in a relationship with someone who slowly started to push back on how I felt and even our relationships boundaries. This eventually reached the point of them gaslighting me about our relationship and trying to get me to let them sleep with other people. Now I’m always a little on edge because I know that even someone who says “I love you,” and I was communicating really well with was still abusive and really tried to make me feel bad for wanting an exclusive relationship. And I feel really stressed out when I heard people drag monogamy so much and feel like any relationship I’m in, my partner will just start to push against our boundaries. Especially since I can have issues with sex and confirmed related to trauma. The worst thing would be cheating obviously, but even thinking about that makes me really stressed out.
How do you think I can build a sense of safety inside a relationship or when I’m single, and how should I go about making clear how important monogamy is to me and how freeing and even sexy I find it? And how can I stop feeling bad or like I’m naive for wanting a monogamous relationship? I know relationships end and that’s okay, but while it’s going I want it to be free of little digs or power imbalances or endless pressure to perform.”
Liz says: Ignore everyone else. Who cares what they believe about monogamy? Unless you are in a romantic relationship with them, their opinions don’t matter.
Monogamy is important to you, and that’s what matters. There are millions of women who also value monogamy and want what you do in a relationship. If you’re somehow getting the impression that polyamory or open relationships are the norm now, you’re mistaken. Since this concern gives you anxiety, I do wonder if there is something deeper going on with you emotionally. Perhaps finding a therapist who specializes in abandonment issues, or abusive relationships (or whatever it is you might have been traumatized by) would do you a lot of good.
Meanwhile, prioritize this concern right away with whomever you date. Not in a smothering way, but gently bring up the topic of monogamy in long-term couplings and see where the conversation goes. You can learn a lot before getting emotionally invested. Honesty and setting clear boundaries is how you can build a sense of safety inside a relationship.