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May 27, 2022

Beyond Monogamy and Polyamory: The Freedom of Novogamy

Photo by Artem Beliaikin on Pexels.

As someone who doesn’t like to be pigeonholed into tightly defined labels or identities, learning about novogamy was a breath of fresh air.

What is novogamy? Novogamy is the freedom to adopt any relationship structure that suits you and your partner(s) in a consensual manner, at any given point, without binding yourself to a rigid identity or set of beliefs. The term was coined by Dr. Jorge Ferrer in his recent book, Love & Freedom: Transcending Monogamy and Polyamory, which explains in great detail why monogamists and polyamorists should finally stop their ideological war (and live happily forever after on whatever relational path suits them best).

Refreshingly, novogamy says that we don’t have to choose between monogamy OR polyamory—OR any other relationship style for that matter, in a permanent way. Novogamy expands relational choices beyond the mono/poly binary, and eschews the age-old debate around the supposed superiority or naturalness of monogamy versus polyamory—and instead argues that there is no such thing as one “universal truth” when it comes to intimate relationships.

Novogamy has similarities with relationship anarchy (RA), but it is even broader: while RA doesn’t allow for hierarchical polyamory and won’t endorse making a distinction between friends and partners, novogamy embraces any relational style that is consensual, growthful, or liberating.

Heck, novogamy can even embrace lifelong monogamy, if that’s what people end up desiring throughout their lives—BUT—it would be a monogamy chosen from a place of sovereignty, awareness, and freedom, rather than from our default mononormative conditioning. Indeed, while “compulsory monogamy” (or mononormativity, or monocentrism) is one of the main conditioned beliefs we assimilate from culture, novogamy does not exclude monogamy as a legitimate relationship option. Instead, it asks that we do not choose monogamy unconsciously, from a place of default or social coercion—but instead make our choices from a place of awareness and enhanced freedom.

If we aren’t to simply fall into relationship templates predetermined by social norms or pressures, then HOW should we create our relationships? 

To make relationship choices from a deeper place of freedom, the novogamous paradigm wants us to ask:

What relational style would make the most sense to me in this particular context? What type of relationship structure would be most harmonious and life-giving consider my own personal development, the needs and desires of others, and other life circumstances? Can I make this decision as freely as possible from the pressures of social, biological, biographical, and cultural conditioning?

Novogamy personally resonated with me, because while I have never fit in with the monogamous crowd, I also have often felt some shame around “not being poly enough”. My life circumstances have brought me to continually shift my relationship behaviors according to (1) my own personal evolutionary path, (2) who has crossed my path at any given time and what mutual desires were born from the relational alchemy, and (3) what else was happening in my life at each stage (starting a business, losing a parent, caring for children, etc.).

For example, when I was a college student, my strongest desire was to explore sexuality with many folks, and being “solo poly” served my growth and development best at the time. For the following decades, I’ve had several relationships that vastly varied in their styles, commitment levels, mutual desires, and relationship agreements. At times, monogamy has felt profoundly bonding, natural, and even healing. At other times, polyamory was more catalytic to my growth.

That said, at no point did I want to “lock” myself into one relational style permanently. I know all too well that life always ebbs and flows, and that’s especially true when it comes to sexuality and in-loveness. Thus, novogamy made complete sense to me and validated my truer sense of identity around love and intimacy.

I strongly believe that normalizing relationship diversity is the next frontier in creating an inclusive society where all of us can be safe and free to be ourselves. May novogamy pave the way to a more accepting, loving, and joyful world!

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Marie Thouin  |  Contribution: 1,160