Sarah Says: Can we forget familial ideals in order to indulge in sexual adventure?

Dear Sarah,

I grew up in a family where monogamy was the only option when it comes to relationships. I spent my life as a serial monogamist, but it just never seemed to fit for me.

Recently, I have been engaging in random sex with strangers and friends as well as couples and I am really enjoying myself. However, this goes against what I was taught about relationships and family values. If my family knew that I was interested in being in a non-monogamous relationship they would probably disown me or perhaps have me committed to an institution, for this thought would be simply abhorrent to them. I would be labelled a slut or evil.

I was taught that you fall in love with your soulmate, get married and have babies and I always hoped and wished for that kind of romantic, fairy tale love. As I grow older though, I realize that this idea of soulmate, forever love and monogamy no longer fits with my values and beliefs, but I am feeling like something is wrong with me because of what I was taught growing up. I like being able to have multiple partners and we always use contraception and it is always consensual and definitely healthier than any monogamous relationship I have been in.

How do I release myself from the ideals I grew up with so I can full enjoy my sexual adventures?


Torn Between Monogamy And Adventure

Dear Torn,

I really feel like you’ve answered your own question, but are apparently in need of some reassurance, so I’m happy to provide it. You say that you are having healthy, consensual protected sexual encounters that leave you feeling good. My general outlook is that if it feels good and nobody’s getting hurt, then keep doing it! Of course, it’s not always that simple given the restrictions placed on us by society, our communities, our friends and our families. The trick is to determine whose opinions we can safely ignore and whose we should consider.

It takes a long time to reverse the messages that were directed at us as children, but it’s not impossible. You’ve obviously begun the process by simply engaging in non-traditional kinds of relationships and enjoying them, but you’ve still got that niggling voice in the back of your mind telling you it’s wrong, despite all the proof to the contrary. The only reliable way I’ve found to reject ideals that are ingrained and that you no longer have use for is by repeated exposure to the good aspects of contradicting them. It also certainly helps to surround yourself with like-minded people, so you can train your brain to believe in a new normal. If the community you grew up with doesn’t like the way you want to live your life, find a new one that accepts and celebrates it.

Your family doesn’t need to know about how you’re spending your romantic and sexual time these days. If it ever gets to the point where it is an important enough aspect of your life or you feel confident enough with your lifestyle that you want to share, you might be surprised by how easily your family will accept your decisions. Only the most backwoods assholes would truly reject their own flesh and blood based on who they choose to fuck and how.


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Got something to ask? Strange date ideas? Taboo topics that you can’t broach with friends? Sarah has been giving advice about sex and relationships professionally for the better part of a decade, and has written for men’s magazines and women’s, local and online publications on topics ranging from first date ideas to proper anal sex etiquette.

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– Featured photo from Flickr user mliu92 – creative commons.