Are Monogamous Relationships and Monogamy Selfish Love?

We asked Non-monogamous and monogamous folks for you and here’s what they said.

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last updated
December 6, 2021
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It’s not unusual to see the word “selfish” being thrown around within the sex, relationship, and identity space. It’s almost like the word has now lost meaning and has just been reduced to a generic term used to minimize the validity of a certain group’s existence. You’ve probably heard it said to and about both monogamous and non-monogamous folks and it remains a constant back and forth between the lesser accepting minds from both camps. So! To squash this long-standing feud, prompted by a question submitted to us anonymously, we asked our LVRSNFRNDS members to give us their take on “Is monogamy selfish love?” and here’s what they had to say about it. 

But before we delve into their opinions, I want to take a moment and preface that our community is diverse in gender, sexual, romantic, and relationship identities. We’ve actually managed the co-existence of both monogamous and non-monogamous folks, and a peaceful one at that, so it can happen with the right people and interests in mind. And that’s on the magic of a non-prescriptive, vetted, inclusive, and kind community. 

Okay, the shameless plug is now done, here’s how some members, some identifying as monogamous and others non-monogamous, answered this question: 

#1: Do you, and let others do them. 

“To quote Enya—love is love. What if all relationship types are selfish? Self-serving and fulfilling at the same time. So long as you’re ok with it!” — Grace

#2: Addressing the actual elephant in the room.

“What monogamy are we talking about? Similarly to non-monogamy, monogamy exists on a spectrum. If selfish love means cutting your partner(s) from fulfilling relationships, this can be true for both monogamy and non-monogamy. What are you doing to take care of your partner(s)? That's the question.” — Sophie

#3: So over it!  

“Monogamy isn't anything except a pattern of behaviour. The motivations and values behind that pattern vary wildly. This feels like painting with an excessively broad brush, and borders on the unhelpful attitude of non-monogamy being ‘better’.” — Andy

#4: A war with no winners. 

“I don’t like this thinly veiled idea that polyamory is somehow “better” or less selfish. I also don’t like the sentiment I’ve sometimes seen expressed, that monogamous people are all ‘polyam inside’ because they can and do love, multiple people, in multiple ways.” — Laura

#5: Why are we here?

I've heard a small number of poly folks speak quite dismissively of people who aren't, or refer to someone negatively as having ‘caught the mono’ if their relationship dynamic changes. Which is all a bit tiresome and unnecessary.” — Anna

#6: Is selfishness bad? 

“Every single kind of relationship is selfish: it starts with you in the middle and as the main. Filial relationships, sibling relationships, God/worshipper, and friendships are selfish. Even staying alone is. Selfishness is not a bad thing, it's part of our existence.” — Ane 

The final verdict is: no, monogamous relationships are not selfish—as long as you’re keeping things consensual, ethical, and considerate, you’ll be just fine! With a bit of an open mind and accepting heart, it’s easy to see that no relationship structure, approach, or way is selfish or “the wrong way”. Life is indeed too short to concern yourself with someone else’s truth and should be spent seeking your own (whether that’s monogamy or non-monogamy). 

So, if you’re on the journey to finding out what works for you and monogamy is starting to feel like a good choice: here are a couple of things to help you on that journey!

6 Necessary Things to Consider Before Becoming Monogamous

#1: Know yourself first.

You need to be self-reflective and ask yourself why you are choosing your relationship style. All styles have benefits and deficits, and it's important to have self-understanding as to what you are wanting or expecting—and why that is. Conscious decision-making is always important.

#2: Don't assume a relationship.

Unless partners requested or are committed to monogamy, don't assume you are in a monogamous relationship. Far too many people use a length of time together or depth of intimacy to determine what relationship style and sexual expectations they can place on a partner. A conversation is the first thing to consider in order to avoid hurt feelings and disappointments.

#3: Explore your expectations.

Just like monogamy can't be assumed, neither can your definition or expectations of it. Discuss what it means to you personally and what your boundaries are within that definition. Use it as a tool to build intimacy and effective communication with your partner. There is no "right" way to do monogamy.

#4: Think sexual compatibility.

Sexual compatibility means having more or less matching types of sex you desire, the frequency of partnered sex you prefer to have, and how much intimacy you're willing to have during or after sex. Monogamy is often not the best suit for partners who lack sexual compatibility, and it can take time to explore what a couple's sexuality may look like—meaning don't rush into it too soon.

#5: Check-in regularly.

A chosen relationship and sexual style is an ongoing dialogue, not a one-time commitment. Do frequent check-ins to discuss how partners feel about the different aspects of a relationship and any potential changes that can take place to improve those aspects. Try to listen with calmness and care and to be honest and open while sharing—even when it's not exactly what you may have wanted to hear.

#6: Renegotiate if necessary.

Be flexible with what you request sexually and from your relationship style. The style that works for you or your partner now may not serve all your needs throughout the whole relationship. Change is not always a bad thing.

our take.

Many people are not built for what they'd consider monogamy but can thrive in other healthy creative formations. In the same way, many people are not built for what they'd consider non-monogamy and can be happy having just one sexual/romantic partner. So, it's important, to be honest about what works best for you. If you have struggled in the past with monogamy, then stop agreeing to it and find partners who are open to a different relationship style and if monogamy has been working for you, no need to fix what's not broken! It all depends on each personal set of needs and the relationship structure that serves it. Be confident, consider relationship styles on a spectrum, and express what you need!