Non-monogamy: The 5 sexual relationships rewriting the rule book

by OneTaste Living Library  Feb 21, 2014


Originally published by Metro UK, written by Helen Croydon

Open relationships, multiple dating… it has become cool to experiment with new relationship rules.

Celebs from Cameron Diaz to Carla Bruni-Sarkozy have turned their noses up at lifelong fidelity and we’ve had a wave of monogamy-bashing books.

But people aren’t just sleeping around. There are tried-and-tested templates.

Helen Croydon, author of Screw The Fairytale: A Modern Guide to Sex and Love (John Blake), shares her guide to five relationship trends everyone’s talking about.


This is the new buzz word for straight men and women who experiment with bisexuality.

It’s not just adventurous singletons: flexi-sexuals in relationships are experimenting with their own sex, with their partner’s consent.

Consider the flexi-sexual affair as a mini-step for those nervous about plunging into a fully open relationship. Sexual competition is much easier to bear if one’s nemesis is of a different gender.

Sexual flexibility or ‘fluidity’ became a media buzz word after a National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles revealed last year that the number of women reporting same-sex partners has increased from 1.8 per cent to 7.9 per cent over the past 20 years.

The trend for switching sides has also been propelled by the likes of Sex And The City actress Cynthia Nixon, singer Alison Goldfrapp and TV presenter Mary Portas, who all started relationships with women after years of being with a man.

Comedian Rosie Wilby even set about experimenting with flexi-sexuality as part of her comedy show Is Monogamy Dead?

In December, Olympic star Tom Daley announced he was dating a man but ‘still fancies girls’, prompting talk that he could be pansexual – yet another name for yet another model of sexuality.

Hybrid relationships

It doesn’t have to take two to explore an extra-marital frisson. If you can’t get your partner’s enthusiasm for an open relationship, just get their consent.

It’s increasingly common for one partner to grant the more sexually charged of the two permission to let off steam, while they stay at home with a hot chocolate and get some peace and quiet.

A hybrid relationship or ‘mono-non-mono’ may seem like one half is getting a better deal but, among the couples I interviewed, many are happy for their relationship to remain as good as asexual, instead defining their connection through security and friendship.

One 52-year-old wife granted her husband permission to use no-strings website as it let her off the hook.

‘I’ve gone through the menopause and I’m not interested in sex any more,’ she says.

‘I love seeing my grandchildren and days out with friends. My husband is bored by all that. As long as he doesn’t rub it in, I turn a blind eye to him going dating. He never spends the night away and he’s happier because of it.’

Multiple Dating

This is the dating equivalent of try-before-you-buy. A chic friend from New York once joked that in Manhattan people date, but the less romantic British simply ‘have a drunk snog, spend a few evenings watching TV and then you’re going out’.

Not any more. Internet dating and the likes of location-mapping dating apps such as Tinder mean we’re less likely to settle for the first thing that throws itself at us.

The buzz has become the dating, not the relationship. No matter how many boxes our date ticked, there are plenty more available singletons to try.

A recent survey by JDate and Christian Mingle found that 63 per cent of women and 53 per cent of men online communicate with multiple people at the same time.

Posh swingers

They don’t go to swinger parties, they go to ‘couples’ parties’.

Gone are steamy basement clubs – in their place are exquisite private parties with hot waiters in thongs serving canapés and champagne to professionals parading around in Agent Provocateur three-pieces.

The trend emerged nine years ago when socialite Emma Sayle, former classmate of the Duchess of Cambridge, founded Killing Kittens, exclusive parties in mansions and penthouses.

At one event at Halswell House in Somerset, where I conducted my research, a well-dressed couple in their mid-fifties explained: ‘We hadn’t considered anything like this but then the kids leave home, you pass milestone birthdays and you start to think, what now?

‘We both felt that we were entering into a new phase of life so we started to talk about what sex would be like with other people. We didn’t do anything about it and then we read an article about classy sex parties.’

PolyamoryThink multiple love, not multiple sex. Polyamorous (or ‘poly’) people believe love isn’t a finite resource. You can spread it, lavish it and reproduce it for as many partners who capture your heart.Matt, a 26-year-old philosophy student in a four-way relationship with two women and one man, says: ‘I can say I have a favourite book but I can still love other books. Why can’t I do the same for people?’ Some poly people have a ‘primary’ partner they consider their number one and everyone else is ‘secondary’. Others love multiple partners equally. If it’s a three-way bond, it’s a triad; if there are four, it’s a quad. Some followers of the poly lifestyle choose to be ‘open’, which means they are free to date anyone. Others are ‘closed’, so only date others within a defined group. If this sounds complicated, London Polyamory Meetup ( runs discussion evenings about the practicalities.