Showing Love in the Little Things When Practicing Non-Monogamy

Photos by  Chris Bavaria

Photos by Chris Bavaria

Non-monogamy is the umbrella term that covers all types of relationships that aren't monogamous. Polyamory falls beneath non-monogamy as a type of relationship that isn't monogamous. Swingers, couples who participate in kink parties, folks who participate in threesomes or other types of group sex (but don't necessarily have multiple relationships), and everything in between falls under the umbrella of non-monogamy. Monogamy doesn't leave a lot of space for the folks within a relationship to define what they want, but non-monogamy gives space to let you define your relationship according to your needs and your partner's/lover's needs.

I’ve been practicing non-monogamy for four years. I say practicing because it’s taken active work on my part to figure out what type of non-monogamy works for me and what doesn’t. Then it takes the effort of who I’m dating or partnered with to also do their part, and then together we figure out what we want out of our relationship. I’ve learned that even as I gain more knowledge around what I want and need, it still requires me to work on myself daily. You can’t just do a check-in once a year and that’s it, you have to check in with yourself constantly. Especially when new relationships enter the scene. You have to make sure that everyone is feeling secure, and if they aren’t, figuring out ways to make them feel loved and secure.

There are many things I love about non-monogamy, but what I love the most are the little things that you do to let your partner(s) know that you’re thinking of them, be it while you’re away at another partner's house, or on a date with someone else. This is something I’ve realized is crucial for myself and for those I’m dating. I was thinking about this while I made the bed for my partner when I was going to be sleeping at my other partner's house. It was important to me that while I was away, he was still feeling my love. Usually chores like making my bed, or doing the dishes, drive me insane, but that day, I was happily walking through the house picking up clothes, folding laundry, and making sure the kitchen was clean. It felt like every action I was doing was filled with love, and that was important to me. It's become a part of my routine, making sure that my partners are receiving and feeling tokens of my love, even if we are apart.

When you have multiple relationships, there is an importance to doing the little things, so those you’re attached to are always feeling your love. It can be difficult when you can’t always be present, or jealousy is what’s present, to figure out how to have your heart still loving those people. It's not about having folks “just deal with it” when you’re apart, but validating feelings. And even if they’re okay and have no jealousy, no one ever hates feeling loved. My love language is words and time, so I can struggle when my time is compromised. My partners are learning that a way to address that is to let me talk about it and to write me love notes. It makes a difference to me. I love writing love letters and have gotten into a practice of doing it, even when I’m feeling a bit distant from my partners. I also try to send them selfies, even if I’m on a date with someone else. Because I’m still loving them, still thinking of them, still missing them. Love is really powerful like that.

I was in a monogamous relationship before I discovered non-monogamy, and during that time, this idea of being capable of loving multiple people seemed ridiculous. Yet, I’m living it. The loves I have for the people I am partnered with aren’t the same. They’re different, and that’s beautiful. They evolve within the boundaries we’ve agreed upon, yet we feel so much freedom within them. Love doesn’t want to be limited, and when you give it space to be itself, it will surprise you.


I took at least two minutes to question whether or not I should have my About section written in the third person. I decided it was creepy.

I currently live in Portland, Oregon, with my two children. I'm a D&D loving Hufflepuff that interests include praising Beyoncé’s name wherever I go, watching Korean dramas and anime, spending a lot of time wishing I could write poetry and creating projects that benefit other people more than they benefit me.