Q: I think I am interested in non-monogomous relationships/lifestyle, but every time I try to act on it I feel a sense of guilt/shame/wrongness due to monogamous socialization. Any advice on how to decolonize myself to pursue my innate desires?
A: It sounds like you're interested in either a polyamorous relationship, in which you are having relationships with multiple partners at the same time; or an "open" relationship, in which you have a primary relationship partner, but have sex with other people as well. Either type of relationship can be perfectly healthy and beneficial for all members, as long as everyone has consented to having this type of relationship right at the beginning. I think one way to lessen feelings of guilt/shame when having a non-monogomous relationship is to find people who completely share your desire to have these types of relationships. If you have relationship partners that are enthusiastic about having a poly or open relationship with you, then it becomes easier for you to express your own desires without any fear that your relationship partners will judge you negatively. After all, they want the same thing.
Any relationship (and non-monogomous relationships especially) require a lot of communication. When having poly/open relationships, you want to talk a lot with your partners about what everyone expects, and wants, out of the relationship. It's good to set up everyone's expectations and boundaries early on. This lessens the chance of later misunderstandings or hurt feelings. Also, the more you talk about your desires with people who like and respect you, especially those who are also into the poly/open lifestyle, the less guilt/shame you will feel about it. Try to surround yourself with people who are poly/open, both as relationship partners and as friends. This will greatly help you feel more normal and accepted, just as you are.
Answers provided by Dr. Ross Avilla
Dr. Ross Avilla has been teaching Human Sexuality since 2013 and has a PhD in psychology from UC Davis. Dr. Avilla is not a clinician and all information and advice offered on this website is for educational purposes only.