Monogamish: It’s Not Cheating… Or Is It?

By John V

January 16, 2024   •   Fact checked by Dumb Little Man

Relationships, by default, are only between two people; this is what society has taught us, and what is deemed applicable. However, have you ever wished to be in a committed relationship and still want to keep your sexual options open? It’s possible, and it’s not cheating, and there’s a term for that; monogamish.

In this article, we explore the concept of “monogamish” relationships, a hybrid of monogamy and non-monogamy that allows for flexibility and exploration within a committed partnership. We’ll delve into the benefits, challenges, and key differences from other relationship models, providing insights for those curious about or actively navigating this dynamic.

What Does “Monogamish” Mean?

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The term “Monogamish” is a relatively new concept in the realm of relationship dynamics. It represents a form of relationship that straddles the line between non-monogamous and monogamous relationship. This term was popularized by an American author and sex columnist Dan Savage, to describe relationships that are primarily monogamous but allow for occasional sexual encounters outside the partnership.

A monogamish relationship typically involves two individuals who agree on maintaining a committed, primary relationship while being open to the possibility of sexual experiences with others. This concept arises from the understanding that it can be challenging for two people to fulfill each other’s needs indefinitely. Therefore, monogamish relationships offer a flexible approach, aiming to combine the stability and intimacy of monogamy with the freedom and exploration of non-monogamy.

In essence, being monogamish is about finding a balance that works for both partners. It involves honest communication, clear boundaries, and mutual consent. The core of these relationships remains the emotional commitment to each other, with the physical aspect being less exclusive. This model appeals to those who seek to enrich their relationship and experience diversity without sacrificing the foundation of their partnership.

As with any relationship style, monogamish relationships are not one-size-fits-all and require careful consideration and communication to ensure that both partners are comfortable and their needs are met. The next sections will delve deeper into understanding the nuances of this relationship dynamic, assessing its suitability, and exploring the potential benefits and challenges involved.

Monogamish vs. Non-Monogamous Relationships

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Monogamish relationships are characterized by a strong emotional bond between two primary partners, permitting occasional physical encounters with others, unlike other non-monogamous relationships like polyamory or open relationships, which involve multiple emotional connections.

This structure emphasizes maintaining stable core and committed relationships while exploring outside experiences physically, not emotionally.

Communication and boundary-setting are crucial in monogamish relationships, ensuring the primary relationship’s stability. They differ from other non-monogamous forms, where relationships can be more fluid and complex.

Socially, monogamish relationships often appear more conventional, facing less scrutiny compared to more visible non-monogamous relationships like polyamory. The preference between monogamish and other non-monogamous styles depends on individual needs, with each offering different approaches to relationship dynamics.

>> Also Read: Polygamy vs Polyamory: Unraveling the Differences and Debunking the Myths

Is a Monogamish Relationship Right for You?

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This is a fundamental question that requires introspection about your values, desires, and relationship goals. Consider your views on commitment, exclusivity, and sexual exploration. It’s important to understand your motivations and whether a monogamish arrangement aligns with them.

Questions to Consider Before Choosing a Monogamish Relationship

  • How do you handle jealousy and insecurity? Understand your capacity to manage these emotions, as they are common in non-monogamous arrangements.
  • Are you and your partner able to communicate openly and honestly? Effective communication is crucial for navigating the complexities of a monogamish relationship.
  • What are your boundaries and limits? It’s important to know your comfort levels and to ensure they align with your partner’s.
  • How important is sexual exclusivity to you and your partner? Assessing the value you place on sexual exclusivity can help gauge how comfortable you’d be with external encounters.

Signs Indicating a Monogamish Relationship Might be Suitable

  • A strong foundation of trust and open communication in your current relationship.
  • Curiosity or interest in exploring sexual experiences outside of your primary partnership, without compromising the emotional bond.
  • Alignment in relationship goals and values between you and your partner.
  • Resilience in handling relationship challenges and conflicts effectively.

Benefits of Monogamish Relationships

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Unlike an open relationship, polyamory, and other relationship setups, monogamish relationships offer a unique set of benefits, tailored to meet the evolving needs and desires of partners.

One of the primary advantages is the ability to customize the relationship. This customization allows partners to define their own rules and boundaries, creating a relationship model that resonates with their individual preferences and values.

By stepping away from traditional monogamous expectations, couples in monogamish relationships can adapt their partnership to better align with their personal needs and life situations.

Another significant benefit is the opportunity to fulfill unmet needs and explore new experiences. Monogamish relationships acknowledge that it can be challenging for one person to meet all of another’s emotional, physical, and sexual needs indefinitely.

By allowing occasional external encounters, these relationships provide a way to explore and satisfy diverse aspects of sexuality and desire that might not be fully realized within the primary partnership. This exploration can lead to new experiences, contributing to personal growth and deeper self-understanding.

Additionally, monogamish relationships often lead to enhanced communication and stronger bonds between partners. The nature of these relationships requires ongoing, honest, and transparent communication to navigate the complexities of maintaining a primary emotional bond while engaging in external activities.

This level of communication fosters trust and intimacy, strengthening the overall relationship. Couples learn to express their needs, desires, and boundaries more effectively, leading to a deeper understanding and connection between them.

Challenges and Risks in Monogamish Relationships

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Navigating a monogamish relationship can present unique challenges and risks, requiring careful consideration and management.

  • Jealousy and Insecurity: Engaging in external encounters can spark feelings of jealousy and insecurity, potentially straining the primary relationship.
  • Misalignment of Expectations or Boundaries: Differences in understanding or adhering to agreed-upon boundaries can lead to miscommunications and breaches of trust.
  • Sexual Health and Safety Risks: Increased exposure to sexually transmitted infections (STIs) due to sexual activities outside the primary relationship.
  • Emotional Complexity: Managing emotions in response to a partner’s external encounters can be challenging, requiring robust emotional intelligence and resilience.
  • Impact on Relationship Dynamics: The introduction of external partners can alter the dynamics of the primary relationship, requiring ongoing adjustment and understanding.
  • Social Stigma and Misunderstanding: Facing potential social judgment or misunderstanding due to the non-traditional nature of the relationship.
  • Time and Energy Management: Balancing time and energy between the primary relationship and external engagements can be complex and demanding.

Addressing and Overcoming Challenges

To effectively navigate these challenges, open and honest communication is key. Partners need to regularly discuss their feelings, expectations, and boundaries, and be willing to adjust them as the relationship evolves. It’s crucial to address feelings of jealousy or insecurity as they arise and work together to find solutions that comfort and reassure both parties.

Setting clear and mutually agreed-upon boundaries is essential. This includes agreeing on the types of external engagements that are acceptable, frequency, and any specific rules regarding these encounters. Regular check-ins and discussions about these boundaries can help prevent misunderstandings and ensure both partners remain comfortable with the arrangement.

Lastly, prioritizing sexual health is a must. This involves using protection during external encounters and committing to regular STI testing. Being proactive about health not only ensures physical well-being but also helps maintain trust and safety within the primary relationship.

Addressing these challenges involves a continuous effort and willingness to adapt. When managed effectively, however, overcoming these hurdles can further strengthen the bond and deepen the understanding between partners in a monogamish relationship.

Effective Communication in Monogamish Relationships

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Effective communication is the cornerstone of a successful monogamish relationship. It involves more than just talking; it’s about fostering an environment of trust, understanding, and mutual respect. Here are some key aspects to consider:

How to Discuss Being Monogamish with Your Partner

Initiating a conversation about transitioning to a monogamish relationship requires sensitivity and timing. It’s important to approach the topic without any assumptions about your partner’s willingness or reaction.

Begin by expressing your own feelings and desires clearly and respectfully, and then give your partner space to process and respond. It’s essential to approach this discussion with an open mind and a willingness to listen.

Guidelines for Open and Honest Communication

Establishing a norm of open and honest communication is vital. This means regularly checking in with each other, sharing feelings, desires, and concerns honestly, and actively listening to each other. It’s crucial to create a safe space where both partners feel comfortable expressing their true thoughts without fear of judgment or retaliation.

Avoiding Assumptions

In a monogamish relationship, it’s easy to make assumptions about what your partner might be thinking or feeling, especially regarding external encounters. To avoid misunderstandings, it’s important to ask questions and clarify rather than assume. This helps in understanding each other’s perspectives and maintaining clarity in the relationship.

Keeping the Conversation Going

Communication in a monogamish relationship is not a one-time event but an ongoing process. It’s important to have regular check-ins to discuss how the arrangement is working for both partners. This can include discussing any new feelings or concerns, changes in boundaries, or even reaffirming the commitment to each other.

Continuous dialogue ensures that both partners are on the same page and helps in adapting the relationship to meet evolving needs and circumstances.

Making a Monogamish Relationship Work

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For a monogamish relationship to thrive, certain steps and strategies need to be implemented. These guidelines help ensure that the relationship remains strong and fulfilling for both partners.

Steps and Strategies for a Successful Monogamish Relationship

The foundation of a successful monogamish relationship is built on mutual understanding and agreement about the nature of the relationship. This includes:

  • Setting clear and realistic boundaries that both partners agree upon.
  • Regularly revisiting and revising these boundaries to reflect any changes in comfort levels or desires.
  • Ensuring ongoing and open communication about feelings, desires, and experiences within and outside the primary relationship.
  • Prioritizing the primary relationship to ensure that it remains strong and secure.

Being Honest with External Partners

It’s crucial to maintain honesty not just within the primary relationship but also with any external partners. This includes being upfront about your relationship status, boundaries, and expectations. Honesty helps in preventing misunderstandings and ensures that external relationships are conducted with integrity and respect.

Respecting Boundaries and Addressing Conflicts

Respecting the established boundaries is key to maintaining trust and security in a monogamish relationship. However, conflicts may still arise, and it’s important to address them promptly and constructively. Conflict resolution should involve:

  • Actively listening to each other’s concerns without judgment.
  • Expressing your feelings and needs clearly and respectfully.
  • Working together to find solutions that respect both partners’ feelings and boundaries.
  • Seeking external help, such as relationship counseling, if needed.

Rules in Monogamish Relationships

Couples can also establish various rules to guide their relationship. These can include:

  • Frequency of External Encounters: Setting limits on how often external sexual encounters or casual sex with more than one person can occur.
  • Type of External Activities Allowed: Defining what types of sexual activities are permissible with others.
  • Disclosure Requirements: Agreeing on whether, and how much, to disclose about external encounters.
  • Emotional Boundaries: Emphasizing that external relationships should not develop into emotional or romantic relationships.
  • Safe Sex Practices: Ensuring the use of protection with sexual partners and regular health check-ups.
  • Veto Power: Allowing one partner to veto certain external partners or activities.
  • Time Management: Balancing time spent on external encounters with time dedicated to the primary relationship.
  • Respect for Primary Relationship: Ensuring external activities do not disrupt the primary relationship’s stability and intimacy.
  • Check-ins and Communication: Regular discussions to review how the arrangement is working and to address any concerns.


The monogamish relationship dynamic strikes a balance between non-monogamous and monogamous relationships, emphasizing open communication, clear boundaries, and mutual respect. This model allows for sexual exploration outside the primary relationship without undermining the emotional connection.

Deciding if a monogamish relationship is suitable involves evaluating personal values, communication skills, and the ability to manage emotions like jealousy. Both partners need to assess their readiness for this arrangement, considering its potential to enrich the relationship experience while also acknowledging its inherent challenges.

Ultimately, success in a monogamish relationship hinges on continuous effort and mutual commitment to maintain and strengthen the primary partnership.

>> Also Read: Intimacy Matters: Exploring the Role of Sexual Compatibility in Relationships

Monogamish FAQs

What does Monogamish mean?

Monogamish refers to a relationship that is primarily monogamous but allows for occasional sexual encounters outside the primary partnership. This arrangement emphasizes a strong emotional commitment between the main partners while permitting some sexual flexibility.

What is the difference between polyamory and Monogamish?

The key difference lies in external relationships: polyamory involves having multiple romantic and emotional relationships simultaneously, while monogamish focuses on a primary emotional bond with a partner, allowing only occasional sexual encounters with others without developing additional romantic attachments.

What are the rules for monogamish?

The rules for monogamish relationships are determined by the consenting partners and typically include clear communication, agreed-upon boundaries for external encounters, and prioritizing the emotional integrity of the primary relationship. These rules vary between couples and are tailored to their specific needs and comfort levels.





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John V

John is a digital marketing master's student who enjoys writing articles on business, finance, health, and relationships in his free time. His diverse interests and ability to convey complex ideas in a clear, engaging manner make him a valuable contributor to these fields.

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