I've been double-dutch jumping in and out of online dating lately. Some days I jump in, excitedly downloading every app from Tinder to Upgrade; and some days I jump out, furiously deleting every app from Tinder to Upgrade. But on the days I jump in, I've noticed a rising trend in the words "ethically non-monogamous" listed in people's bios. And every time I read it, I'm left scratching my head wondering, "Um, what?"
Dating in the nine-nine and the 2000's has left me feeling like I need to learn a new language to describe all the ways in which people relate to one another, so obviously I had to go look up this new found phrase. According to an article on MindBodyGreen.com, where they interview a psychotherapist and practicing non-monogamist, ethical non-monogamy is "an approach to relationships wherein people can have more than one romantic and sexual partner at a time, and everybody involved is aware and enthusiastically consents to the dynamic."
Now, contrary to most people's opinions on Christians, I'm really not here to judge anyone else's lifestyle choices. I make my choices based on the counsel of the Bible, and encourage others to do the same, but if you don't, I throw no stones. So my initial reaction isn't to condemn people who choose to relate in this way; it's just that as I'm trying to understand it, the "enthusiastically consents" part perplexes me.
What does enthusiastic consent look like?
How can one gauge whether consent is truly enthusiastic or not?
What if someone says "yes" in a visibly excited way but secretly hates the idea?
What if one person is more enthusiastic about this arrangement than the other?
Do I need to write down my consent or state emphatically, "I consent?"
I have so many questions.
Those questions reached a furious pitch when I recently matched with a man who hadn't listed the phrase anywhere in his profile but introduced me to the concept in our conversation:
Tinder Match: What are you looking for?
Caught Off Guard Me: I haven't decided yet. I'll know when I get to it.
Tinder Match: I'm in a relationship to be honest. Is that cool with you? I'm looking for someone I can vibe with and see where it goes from there.
Even More Caught Off Guard Me: No, but thank you for being honest. Take care.
And while I genuinely appreciated his candor, here come my questions rolling in:
Why do you want a new partner when you're already in a relationship?
Did your girlfriend "enthusiastically consent" to your meeting new women on a dating app?
If so, what did her enthusiasm look like?
If I had said, "I agree," would I be able to talk to your girlfriend?
Are we now a "throuple" (another dating term I learned recently)?
What brought you to this choice?
Whose idea was this? Yours or hers?
Who benefits from your being allowed to date all these people at once honestly?
Is this another patriarchal scheme for men to get away with sleeping with as many people as they want without ending up on an episode of "Cheaters"?
So many questions. And fortunately, to me, I didn't stick around to get the answers. This new way of dating may be deemed "ethical" because it is forthcoming and honest, but I know it's not the right choice for me because it raises more questions and instability in me, and, since we're all being honest, I have enough I'm trying to figure out in 2021. If non-monogamy, ethical or otherwise, is what is being offered, I'll just remain consciously uncoupled. (Shout out to dating for this new language I'm learning.)
What about you? What are your "ethically non-monogamous" thoughts?