When You’re Monogamous but Fall for Someone Who’s Not — Should It Be a Dealbreaker?

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Picture this: you’re at a party, and you lock eyes with someone across the room. The chemistry is electric, and after hours of deep conversation and laughter, you feel like you’ve met your match. But just when you’re visualising dreamy weekend getaways and Netflix cuddles, they drop the bombshell: they’re into ethical non-monogamy. What do you do when the person who seemed full of potential doesn’t share your monogamous outlook? Is it an insurmountable deal-breaker, or just a relationship hurdle to navigate?

Decoding Ethical Non-Monogamy

It’s not just for “free spirits” or outliers; it’s for anyone who seeks to define love and commitment in their own terms. This isn’t some fling or a loophole for infidelity. Instead, this relationship style invites multiple emotional and sexual connections — but only with the explicit consent and approval of everyone involved. The “ethical” part is non-negotiable; it means that everyone is on board and deceit is a no-go.

The Emotional Quandary

Falling for someone who’s into ethical non-monogamy when you’re accustomed to monogamous relationships is an emotional rollercoaster. Expect a heady cocktail of feels: a dash of excitement, a sprinkle of anxiety, and maybe even a splash of good old-fashioned jealousy as you imagine your new crush sharing their weekend brunch spots — and more— with someone else. It’s the love conundrum of the modern age: how do you handle sharing the spotlight in your sweetheart’s love life?

The Not-So-Glam Side

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Green with envy: Sure, open communication helps, but jealousy is that persistent, uninvited guest that just loves to crash the emotional party and overstay its welcome, muddling even the smoothest of arrangements.

It’s complicated: More hearts in the mix means juggling more dates, texts, and emotional check-ins. Brace yourself — your Google Calendar is about to get a serious workout!

Social glances: Ethical non-monogamy might be chill with your friend group, but try explaining that to grandma at the next family reunion without being met with countless questions.

Legal labyrinths: When it comes to cohabitation or mingling finances, the legal complexities might have you wishing for a law degree — or at least a savvy solicitor.

Your Ethical Non-Monogamy Starter Pack

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Get schooled: Before you swipe left on the idea, take a minute to educate yourself. Read up, listen to podcasts, or chat with people who are nailing the non-monogamy game.

Know your relationship must-haves: First things first, let’s figure out what’s non-negotiable for you. Are you all about that exclusive, “just you and me” kind of love? If so, cosying up to someone who’s into ethical non-monogamy might be a bumpy ride.

Spill the tea: Open up that emotional suitcase and let your partner peek inside. Share all your worries, fears, and boundaries. A little honesty now could save a lot of Kleenex later.

Check your emotional baggage: Ask yourself — and be real about it — are you emotionally ready for this walk on the non-monogamous wild side? And is your crush up for doing the emotional heavy lifting to help you adapt?

Test drive: Set some ground rules and go for a trial run. Keep those lines of communication wide open and do regular check-ins with your emotional GPS to see how you’re vibing with this new setup.

Phone a friend (or a pro): If you’re feeling way out of your league, it’s totally fine to bring in an outside perspective who knows the ethical non-monogamy ropes.

The Nitty-Gritty: Deal Breaker or Not?

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First and foremost: toss out the idea that your partner’s interest in ethical non-monogamy is just a phase. It’s as much a part of their romantic DNA as your love for monogamy is a part of yours. If you’re thinking of riding along, make sure it’s not because you’re secretly hoping they’ll hang up their non-monogamous hat one day. And if you’re considering joining the ethical non-monogamy club, double-check that it’s your own curiosity steering the wheel, not just a last-ditch effort to keep your S.O. by your side.

Making the Decision

As you wade through this emotional maze, give yourself the time and space for some soul-searching. A little introspection can go a long way in figuring out what makes your heart tick. By understanding yourself, you’re unlocking the key to understanding your partner and making informed decisions that you won’t regret.

For some, love is so powerful that it blasts away lifestyle barriers, reshaping their romantic world in ways they never dreamed of. But for others, while love may know no bounds, their emotional comfort zone? Not so much.

As the chat around ethical non-monogamy gets a makeover, it’s clear that the old-school “one-size-fits-all” approach to love is being challenged. So, the million-dollar question is: In the search for ‘the one’, are we confining ourselves to a singular narrative, or is there room in our hearts for multiple love stories?

Nicole Colantoni is a dating and relationship expert. As POPSUGAR Australia’s dating columnist, Nicole will share updates on dating trends, advice, and answer all your burning questions. Slide into her DMs to share what you’d like her to answer next. Nicole hosts a podcast, Love Uncensored: The Modern Guide to Dating & Relationships, which you can learn more about and listen here.  

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