What is “Monogamish” and is it the answer to infidelity?

Posted by Kiran in ,
Modern relationships

What exactly is monogamish? Is this the real answer to the age-old problem of infidelity?

Last summer, while leading a training session for my Mastery Class community, I spent a few days going into great detail with them about red love versus blue love. Essentially, I was talking about loving from fear and attachment, which I call red love (and which is clearly the main form of love on this planet), versus loving from joy body or freedom, which I call blue love.

That community found inspiration in those chats and unanimously asked me to write a book about this. And so, in stolen moments here and there, I’m slowing penning a few chapters.

Here is part of what’s been rolling around in me lately. I’ve been thinking about a lovely term that some New Yorkers I recently met introduced to me: monogamish. It means, “primarily monogamous, but could be open given the right circumstance.”

I am not a person who is going to stand on principle when it comes to falling in love. Love wins in my book. I will, however, be very, very clear; I will move very slowly and be certain there will be no harm. Meaning I can’t sign off on non-consensual elements or persons, and I can’t move towards or away from love and sex because of elements of fear.

So, what is infidelity? What is monogamy? And why are they so deeply connected? Are they deeply connected?

I don’t really know if we can define infidelity by a single act of transgression. I mean, what defines a transgression? Looking at porn? Chat rooms? A happy ending at a massage? An emotional connection with sexual undertones at the office, or the coffee shop? A close friendship with an ex-lover? Re-engaging with an ex lover and creating a powerful emotional connection? Having a deep emotional connection with a hot friend that you can’t share with your primary partner? Hot sex with a secret someone your primary partner knows nothing about, but only in your head?

Dr. Esther Perel defines it beautifully in three equal movements: A secret, an emotional connection, and sexual alchemy.  She uses the term alchemy to mean actual or imaginary, under the premise that romantic imagination can be a more powerful drug equal to actual lovemaking. (I don’t agree with her use of the term alchemy, but as for imagination’s role in sex, hell yes! “I didn’t actually do it” is a very lame avoidance of “but I thought about it a lot!”)

So, here’s the rub. (Pun maybe intended.) When we become involved in a relationship, we start to juggle a lot of hats—which is to say, we take on any number of roles: roommate, lover, business partner, friend, co-parent. And goodness, it’s hard to juggle all that. So fear steps in and says: “Don’t drop those balls! Just use routine, pick a role, and run with it!” Thus: “I’ll cook, you clean. I’ll earn money, you be the primary caretaker of the kids. I’ll carry this burden, you take that one.” And behind all that is fear, saying: “These roles are awesome; they keep us safe, and equally dependent on each other and therefore in a perfectly pressurized system. That breaks if we stray!”

I don’t know if you followed me there… but we did not say, “Let’s keep risking and evolving and being in the moment, even though we bought a house and have kids, let’s stay in the unknown and really have no idea how this is going to work..!” Because fear can’t stand that. Fear doesn’t know we are already safe, loved, whole at this moment. Right here…in the unknown. And we mostly know love as fear and need. Fear wins.

But nothing kills sex and romance quicker than a role. And need and dependence are like the least sexy things out there. They overwhelm and strangle and collapse a person. Roles kill the human spirit, and once you get in that role for a while you become a “dead man walking” and then infidelity becomes pretty low-hanging fruit because it’s a source of aliveness, of excitement, of relief.

People cheat because they feel lost.

People feel lost, because they let fear win.

Infidelity has nothing to do with who, when and what is being sexed. It has nothing to do with the sex, age, gender, etc., of the other person. It has everything to do with feeling very lost.

And that has a lot to do with a life lived with no risk, no spontaneous connection, no intimate expression.

So, infidelity is a sure-fire way to put life back in the zombie! In the world of modern technology, affairs come to light, dude, they just do. Ultimately, no matter what, truth wins. And that will shatter the role your relationship and life were identified with… it opens the door to chaos, trauma, destruction, and suffering. And that shit feels way more alive!

But how about a much less painful and chaotic solution?


It works like this. You agree that, say, once every 5-6 years, your partner might really fall for someone, get turned on by someone, or something. You know this because you know that even a good relationship can’t provide everything. And at the same time, we need to evolve, and sometimes that evolution includes a magical sexual connection. Affairs don’t go away, so own them. They are awesome; we love to have hot, heart, connections. Own it! Growth and personal discovery are as sexual as creation. Or sex is evolution. Sex, create, evolve. It can work like that.

And so, in the loving and owning of this, you set some boundaries around the possibility, and get excited to send fear packing!

Boundaries look something like this:

  1. Once every 5+ years. (Not every year!)
  2. Stay clear on the overarching win here. I’m pretty clear I want my beloved to have another first kiss, have another passionate experience of falling in love. I’m pretty clear I want it for myself too.
  3. Same city, same bed. So, it’s welcome to happen when you’re out of town once every 5 years or so.
  4. Because it’s loved, agreed, etc. I get to share it with my partner, play by play as it unfolds. This makes the whole affair an experience of deeper intimacy for my partner and myself.
  5. My primary partner has to always feel like they are my primary. The affair can’t make them feel secondary, and that is on me and the attention I give my primary.
  6. It definitely can’t happen if we are in a rough patch, sexually or otherwise.
  7. I have a real commitment to “out” sex life. Like a spiritual life, sex life is this big, evolving place of inspiration and deeply knowing myself and the world. So I get to be bold and risky and push up against my fears and edges in and out of the sack. And I am committed to daily practice.
  8. Keep a risky commitment to rekindle a waning desire. (So, so many fun ways to do this!)
  9. Guilt is a deadly virus. So instead, I am committed to risk exposure, which means regular vulnerable communication to relieve the tension that natural little secrets and some natural hiding build up over time.

So what are your boundaries? What would you add to this list if you could shed the fear, take a real look at risk, and open up sexually? What do you need for that container? Just imagine if choosing your partner for life meant you got to have another first kiss, another affair, maybe fall in love totally again? What if you married someone to walk beside their ever-evolving journey, not to rope them into a role to make you the end-all forever?

I’ll keep riffing on this in my scrap notes, but I will leave you with this:

People cheat when they are lost.

Don’t create a relationship ripe for getting lost! Get out of the role, and expose fear!

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