Medically Reviewed By: Aaron Horn, LMFT, MA
Monogamy is a type of relationship where one person has one partner. It can mean that you are with one partner and stay with them for the rest of your life. It can also indicate that you are only with one person at a time, break up, and find another partner to form an exclusive relationship. There are different kinds of monogamy, such as serial monogamy. Serial monogamy is when one person has many exclusive relationships that occur one after another over and over again. Serial monogamists often have short-lived relationships, meaning that when they are unique with one person, they are likely to break up and start another exclusive relationship right after it ends. Monogamy is the prevalent relationship type in the United States. One place that it is commonly seen is in marriages. When people get married, they form a monogamous relationship where they are committed to one another.
Marriage is one of the most common forms of monogamy out there. When two people get married, they commit to being in each other's lives forever. They are committing to be faithful to the person that they marry and to be intimate with that person only. Marriage is very sacred to many people. It is a partnership that people take seriously, which is why wedding vows are so unique; when two people say their wedding vows, they’re committing to being with each other until the day that they die.
Sexual monogamy means that you are only having intimate relations with one person. To be sexually monogamous, you don’t need to be married to a person. It merely means that you are only sexually involved with one specific person for any given period, which may be unknown. With consensual sexual monogamy, both partners agree that they are going to be in a one-on-one relationship. It’s essential that both people in the relationship are on the same page. It’s critical that in a monogamous relationship both partners discuss and agree on what monogamy means to them. In a healthy relationship, there is trust and an emotional intimacy between the two people. That intimacy can lead to a sexual relationship. If at any point both partners want to open their relationship and have multiple partners, it has to be a joint decision. Both people need to be on the same page and know the limits of their relationship, sexual and emotional. If there was sexual exclusivity, and that changes, both partners need to agree upon it and acknowledge the new rule in the relationship.
There are theories that human beings are animalistic and have multiple partners, and therefore monogamy doesn’t make sense to some individuals. Certain people claim that monogamy is not realistic because people naturally gravitate toward different relationships at once. While some people might prefer to be with one partner, others like to see multiple people. Some people have trouble remaining faithful to a single partner, and that is why some claim that monogamy is not realistic. Monogamy isn’t unrealistic, but instead, it’s a choice. You can choose to be with one partner or many. As long as you are honest with the person you are seeing that you are not exclusive, being in an open relationship is fair. If you are lying about being with one person and cheating behind their back that isn’t fair to your partner or anyone else you are seeing.
Some relationships are polyamorous, which is the opposite of monogamy. In a polyamorous relationship, people have multiple partners. Both types of relationship have their strengths and deficits, but neither is immune to having issues that require attention. If someone in a monogamous relationship is having trouble being faithful, for example, the couple can benefit from counseling.
Whether you work with a couple’s counselor in your local area or online, it can help you and your partner maintain healthy boundaries and build a solid foundation for your relationship. Seeing a mental health professional gives you the opportunity to voice your feelings in a safe place and feel heard. Search the database of counselors at BetterHelp and find the best fit for you.