'I asked my boyfriend for an open relationship so I could sleep with women.'

I never thought monogamy was for me.

That was, at least, when I believed I was straight

Being in a relationship with a man always felt somehow disingenuous, like passing off a puzzle as complete when you’ve jammed the rogue pieces into the remaining slots.

Everything looked okay on the surface, but if I stood back and evaluated the whole picture, it became apparent something was out of place.

Perhaps it was a quarter-life crisis, or an itch that had become unbearable; maybe it was the fact I had a boyfriend who never scoffed at any of my asinine ideas, but a couple of years into our relationship, I summoned the courage to ask for an open relationship.

“What do you mean? You want to sleep with other men?” he’d asked.

“No, women,” I’d responded.

His eyes lit up immediately.

“Oh, so like threesomes and stuff?” 

“No. Like just me, on my own, going on dates with women that may or may not end in sex. You wouldn’t be involved,” I’d clarified, before adding, “You can sleep with other people too, obviously.”

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After a lengthy discussion around the proposed logistics and how we’d tackle concerns like jealousy and the possibility of one of us falling in love with someone else, it was agreed we’d trial being what American sex columnist Dan Savage famously calls “monogamish”.

Savage actually coined the term in a 2011 interview with The New York Times to describe his arrangement with husband Terry Miller. The couple, who’ve now been together for almost two decades, have been consensually having sexual encounters outside the relationship for over half of that.

“For all of recorded history, men have had concubines and whores; then 60 years ago, straight relationships began to become more egalitarian and it was less of a property transaction,” Savage argued in a column with Big Think.

“Instead of deciding to allow women to have the same sort of freedom and leeway men did, we decided to impose the same limitations that women had on men… And we have watched the consequences of that, which are a lot of short-term relationships and a lot of divorce.”

And Savage has a point. Not only are divorce rates high (according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, 30 per cent of marriages in Australia end in divorce, and in America it’s estimated to be 40 to 50 per cent), research shows women in particular are more likely to lose interest in sex in long-term relationships because we require a greater amount of sexual novelty than men.


It’s no surprise then, that when I first wrote about my own open relationship experience years ago, I was inundated with emails and DMs from women asking for advice on how they could broach the topic with their partners. 

Our attitudes towards sexuality and relationships are undoubtedly shifting. While monogamish arrangements were once taboo, today more than half of Gen Zers say they’re open to consensually non-monogamous (also known as CNM) relationships.

There’s no rulebook on how to explore CNM in your relationship, but there are a few fundamentals worth discussing before diving in. From my experience: boundaries, expectations and “what if’s” (these are the hypotheticals, like, “What if one of us gets a crush on the person we’re sleeping with?”).

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The main obstacle to overcome, is jealousy. Most CNM advocates aren’t immune to the green-eyed monster, however they acknowledge it’s simply an emotion they don’t need to act on, and not necessarily a sign the relationship is doomed.

In reality, the same threats and risks apply to your relationship whether you’re strictly monogamous or consensually playing the field. People often fall in love with someone outside their relationship, being in a conventional marriage doesn’t safeguard you against infidelity, and all couples risk creating conflict by failing to establish and routinely communicate clear boundaries – whether they’re CNM or not.


There’s also no easy or correct way to raise the topic with a partner (though it’s best avoided in the middle of an argument). When I put it to my boyfriend, I started the conversation by asking, “Have you ever thought about having sex with someone else outside the relationship?” 

After we agreed it was something we’d both thought about and determined the terms of how it would work (only people who weren’t existing friends or colleagues would be considered, no repeated dates with the same person, and we’d get the green light from one another before proceeding with anything) we decided on a six-month trial. 

A couple of months and a few dalliances with women later, I realised why something had always felt askew; I was – am! – gay.

A lot of people would see this as proof CNM relationships don’t work. After all, venturing into “monogamish” territory ultimately ended our union. But from where I’m standing, the picture looks different.

An open relationship gave me the freedom to explore my sexuality and ultimately put all of the pieces of the puzzle in the right place. It also ironically helped me come to the conclusion that, as it turns out, I was never a non-monogamous person; just a big ‘ol lesbian.

Nadia Bokody is a queer sex columnist, YouTuber and professional over-sharer. Follow her on Instagram for more.

Feature Image: Instagram @nadiabokody.