Ethical monogamy?

After my previous (monogamous) relationship which ended a couple years ago, I decided I would look for non-monogamy going forward. In the time I was single, I tried sugar baby-ing (lol) and found it was pretty easy. When the pandemic started I stopped doing that, and then I started dating my best friend. He is a cis guy, and I am a gender questioning female. I am really into slashing norms, questioning patriarchal structures, etc., and I don’t want to be in a relationship with a man who isn’t down to do the work of un-learning and being critical together.
My new partner, the best friend, whom I love very much, is very much closed off to the idea of non-monogamy. We’ve had several conversations about it which have been difficult and painful for him. I don’t know how we will ultimately overcome this, but I know that some people prefer monogamy and that’s okay.
But is it okay that he’s also not comfortable with me being a sugar baby? It’s just work, it’s a legitimate way to make money, which I need, and it wouldn’t be anything more than that. I sort of wish I had the freedom to go back to it.

That’s a tough one. If being a sugar baby is something that is important to you and part of the life you live and you don’t want to change that, then I think either he needs to learn to accept that and maybe evolve his views about it, or you need to accept that he won’t and he still needs to be ok with you living your life the way you want to and support you and not throw it up or make you feel bad about your choices. Someone doesn’t have to be comfortable or a fan of something in general, but they still need to support you and your choices as your partner.

You said “I don’t want to be in a relationship with a man who isn’t down to do the work of un-learning and being critical together.” Well, this is the work for him and his time to step up and do it. He needs to figure out why he’s not comfortable with you being a sugar baby and explore the reasons why, and critically think about if those reasons are fair to you or not. IE: is it because he’s jealous? Because something like that is a problem he’s having with himself, not a problem with what you’re doing. It’s the time for him to do some maybe uncomfortable inner work and examine what he thinks in order to support you.

There are a lot of partnerships where one person might be into something (say, BDSM) and their partner isn’t. But the kicker that makes it work is that both partners respect and support each other’s choices (so in the case of the bdsm example I gave, if one partner isn’t interested in that, they at least give their partner the ok to explore that aspect of their life in other ways without them and with consent and acceptance). Hope that makes sense!

At the end of the day, hopefully you two can have a chat about why he’s not comfortable with it, and if he can work through those feelings to support you and what you want to do. Or you might want to bend a little on what you do to make him be more comfortable with things, but he has to meet you in the middle. All relationships are give and take, and hopefully you two can find that common ground where you’re both ok with your situation and supported.

Hi I’m an Ace woman and my fiance (a straight male) is looking for more than monogamy when it comes to sexual experiences. We aren’t sure What that means. Is he poly? Just looking for an open relationship? Sex with others than me? What would be the terms to help us with research?
We are still new to exploring what works for us durning sex and BDSM.
How would I go about doing some personal searching? I know the thought of him having sex with another woman ranges from a flat-out “No-way-No-How” to “I Might be okay with that…I’d like to think I’m okay with that”. Are there any books out there to help?
It’s also not quite helpful that when the subject is casually mentioned his parents are “you can’t have multiple partners if you are married.” Or “You must be monogamous.” and we do want to get married but are unsure what impact this would have on our relationship and sexual relationship. We’ve been together for about 6 years if that’s helpful.

It’s great you are both open to communicating and exploring, because communication is going to be key with all of this!

So, we actually have a lot of books about poly, non-monogamy, and open relationships. I’ll list those below. There are for sure a lot of resources out there that really discuss the best way to find what works for you and to navigate things.

As far as personal searching, reading some of these books I think will give insight. I would also follow some poly folks online to see a representation of how it is IRL. I don’t follow a ton, but two I follow that are really honest and show a good amount of their poly life is Kelly Belly (I started following her for body positive content and she’s poly too!) and Heather Mae.

It also might be good to see a sex positive therapist to talk this out as well, either (or both) solo and as a couple. It’s always helpful to have a person to help you navigate all of this in a non-judgemental way. And I think that setting is also a good space to discuss why you both want this, which is a key thing to establish and get on the same page about. Also remember, just because you are not comfortable with something now, doesn’t mean that will be forever. I’ve been with my partner over a decade, and things we are into now are not things I would have been comfortable with a decade ago. But learning about my own desires and needs and comforts, and exploring things together, opened up those avenues. So after doing some personal searching, you might find that your viewpoint has evolved.

And like I said, it’s a lot of talking it out. Do you want to be with your partner and would be more into play parties, do you want them dating other people, do you want it strictly to be sexual only? There are just so many factors, and being up front to establish what you both are comfortable with, and checking in as you learn together, is key.

And to the last point, you can be more open about this stuff, but you also can keep it between you and your partner and your other partners. If family doesn’t approve, they can either accept your choice or if it’s easier, you can not inform them. Different ways of dealing with this works for different folks. Unfortunately a lot of folks are still stuck in this very heteronormative and not very progressive mindset that marriage=monogamy and that you must always be monogamous. But that simply isn’t true. There are plenty of married folks who are poly or have open relationships and are very happy. And there are a TON of monogamous married folks who are miserable. A marriage, or any deep relationship, is about communication and trust. Hell, a lot of partners don’t even communicate about what they need sexually, so you’re already ahead of the game if you have that open dialogue. Monogamy might work for many, but it’s not the end all be all. What matters at the end of the day is that you and your partner are happy and in a loving and trusting relationship, however that may look to you.

Ok, going to make a second comment with books to check out!

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  1. Opening Up. Tristan is a great educator.
  2. The Ethical Slut. A tried and true OG resource. I read this in college and it opened up a lot of my mind to some beliefs I had instilled in me that I realized I didn’t actually believe.
  3. Designer Relationships. Just a really great guide to mapping out what works for your relationship.
  4. The Jealousy Workbook. A really great and practical guide for working through feelings that come up in open relationships.
  5. Playing Well with Others. As I mentioned in my previous comment, if you decide you are interested at all in the kink community for play, this is a great book to check out.
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Thank you so much for the kind and reassuring advice! Hopefully we’ll be able to feel more comfortable talking through this.And I’ll definitely take a look at the books!

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You’re welcome! It’s def. one of those topics that isn’t a one and done conversation, and can evolve over time as you learn and talk things out. Good luck!

Please understand that I am in no way attacking you as a person as I give my comments. I’m not one to offend or hurt someone else’s feelings! So right off the top, I disagree with the sugar baby-ing and dating someone else. One or the other, but not both. I also think that if you’re questioning your gender, you should probably take time to figure that out while NOT dating someone, especially not your best friend. Personally, I’d be very unsure about dating my best friend. It’s a great way to lose a best friend and lose a significant other. My experience has been that when I needed to figure out something significant in my life, doing it on my own was usually the way to go. I’m sure that others will disagree, but I found it easier to think and I didn’t have to worry about hurting anyone else’s feelings. Those are my thoughts. I hope that something I’ve said will find themselves helpful…

Thanks for sharing your experience! It’s always great to look at different experiences as you are examining your own. I personally had the opposite experience, the biggest awakenings I’ve made about my sexuality, gender, and myself were with a partner (and therapy in tandem), but I get that doesn’t work for everyone. For me, that took a lot of vulnerability and communication, which isn’t easy for everyone.