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“Sexuality is one of the ways that we become enlightened, actually, because it leads us to self-knowledge.” Alice Walker

Adding Sex Back to Discussions of Ethical Non-Monogamy

In the past 7 years since I have been working in sex therapy with people who identify as polyamorous or ethically non-monogamous, I’ve noticed something. The professionals never talk about the sex. I go to sex therapy conferences and a variety of other conferences to take classes on ethical non-monogamy and how to work with clients in these relationship styles, and none of the presenters even mention sex. The same is true of many of the books and articles on polyamory. I’ve been thinking that it’s time to change that.

Over the past 6 months I’ve conducted interviews with people who identify as polyamorous about their sexuality, sense of self, and life experience. I asked about sexual and gender identity, race, BDSM, group sex, and spirituality.

One of the things that I’ve noticed is that people who do ethical non-monogamy are sexual explorers. They try things that I rarely hear my monogamous clients talk about in therapy. I started out asking participants how polyamory had changed their sexuality. As it turned out, that was really the wrong question. For a lot of people, their desire for exploration and openness and their fundamental sexuality was what led them to open relationships in the first place. Some of them found that being with one person meant not being able to explore things that were important to them. I also found that a lot of people in non-monogamous situations were having different kinds of sex with different people.

I’m perpetually curious about how people’s sexualities, spiritualities and identities weave together. Information from these interviews has fed my curiosity and helped to create a series of blog posts to talk more about what I’ve learned through this process and my practice. Stay tuned for more, and join the conversation!

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