Apr 1, 2023

Monogamy by any other name

Married, “LTR,” committed—there are lots of different ways to look for one person on Feeld.

Feeld is proud to be a place where people can explore different relationship structures. This week, we wanted to turn our gaze towards monogamy: a mainstream idea that needs neither an introduction nor a defense, but which could benefit from some inquiry towards a deeper understanding. What is monogamy, and who gets to define it? Who practices monogamy, and how do individual experiences change our collective understanding of it? What are the cultural histories of monogamy, and in what ways are they evolving? What are the benefits of it, and which boundaries are upheld by its limitations? The week to come offers a dedicated deconstruction of—as well as an open invitation to reconsider—the concept of monogamous commitment. 

Plenty of different people are on Feeld, for plenty of different purposes. Even self-described monogamous users are diverse in their identities and desires. To fully understand the landscape, Feeld reached out to people who themselves identified as monogamous on the app to ask them about their experiences with dating. Meanwhile, our analytics team mapped out a few areas of data that seemed particularly compelling, surprising, or otherwise illuminating. The results prove that there are as many different ways to be in a monogamous relationship as there are to be in an open one. 

~35% of our users seeks a monogamous relationship.

While these words are commonly found on Feeld, they’re often seen in a context to explain what someone is not looking for. Yet at approximately just under 35% of our members, they represent a significant portion of our community.

What is the appeal of monogamy for you?

“Dating sucks and I don’t want to keep doing it once I find someone.”

“Having experimented with non-monogamy, I found that…I probably have limited emotional bandwidth due to my autism. The equal and full level of emotional investment for each person would be so difficult for me to fulfill. Therefore, [non-monogamy is] not for me, but I absolutely believe it works.”

“I just don't have the attention span for multiple people.”

“I’m too jealous and unorganized to date other people.”

“It just makes sense, given the depth of the love I am ready to offer.”

“Getting to stop using dating apps!”

“I emotionally invest pretty hard when things get serious, and I want a life partner who can be my companion. I think the consistency and loyalty of that outweighs the idea of being with multiple people (which is fun!) but ultimately not what I’m looking for.”

“I want someone to want only me because I am enough for them.”

“Security.”

“More time and space for friends; less nervous system dysregulation.”

“Knowing where I am putting my focus, as a naturally scattered person. The commitment provides structure. I’m ok with seeking other connections as a couple or with having romantic connections outside of the relationship, but [I] love knowing that I have a special bond with one individual.”

“I’m not entirely sure I’m monogamous, but I think it’s the commitment that appeals to me.”

“It’s just how I’m wired, I guess?”

“It feels more natural to me. I love having lots of diverse experiences, but when I am fully in love with someone, I prefer to be monogamous, especially when it comes to sharing a life/home/kids.”

“Time! With friends, job, hobbies, normal day to day obligations I just don’t have time for more than one monogam-ish relationship at a time.”

“Polyamory actually makes a lot of sense to me, but I actually find it very exhausting to maintain multiple deep connections.”

“Stability and the potential for longer term ‘nesting.’”

“Not having to fight for attention.”

“No more condoms! Less administration! Flexibility to move and change routines with fewer people’s priorities to balance.”

“I’m very happy to have romantic needs met by a romantic partner, and not to depend on them for all my emotional needs. The simplicity of a monogamous relationship appeals to me.”

London: 43% of Feeld users in this city are seeking monogamy. Portland: 29% of Feeld users in this city are seeking monogamy

“I want to be dependable for someone and want them to have the same from me. I have no problem with polyamory, but after a few relationships where an imbalance had been created due to the selfish nature of some partners, I realized that I'd rather deal with someone willing to commit and do the work than [with someone] playing around with loose ideas of their own relationships.”

“Commitment to the qualities and flaws of a person that make us human, and understanding that having all of our needs met (often through multiple partners) is not necessarily a noble, given right, and may just be a symptom of capitalism.”

“I just don’t have any interest in non-monogamy. I think it’s a bit like sexuality—you either are or aren’t [interested].”

“Even with infinite capacity for love, everyone has finite resources—time, money, energy. I don’t like sharing that when in serious relationships.”

“It is what I’m used to. I’m open to non-monogamy, but, so far, those connections haven’t been fulfilling.”

“It’s not about monogamy itself. I’m just not usually in love with more than one person at a time.”

“I think I would struggle with feelings of jealousy if I was in a poly relationship.”

“Finding a solid basis with someone. I have an anxious-attachment style so I need someone I can rely on who’s not already committed or constantly on the hunt for new connections.”

“When I fall in love with someone, I get the blinkers on. It's just the way I'm built. Of course, I can still see other people are attractive, but I just completely lean into that one person.”

People with these words in their feeld bios:
People with these words in their Feeld bios:
41% of homosexual feeld users, 39% of straight Feeld users, 37% of asexual feeld users, are more likely to seek monogamy

Looking at this data, we wondered if there was a correlation between people searching for kinkier partners, monogamous partners, and people who identify as LGTBQIA+. The numbers, as well as the responses below, certainly seem to point to that conclusion…

What are some of the challenges you experience dating as a monogamous person?

“All the coolest queer, kinky, leftist people are ethically non-monogamous! And ENM is so prevalent now, and I can’t filter out partnered people on dating apps.”

“Establishing boundaries of flirting with others.”

“Pressure to have sex right away.”

“Definitely miss out on a lot of various queer hotties! For real though, the expectation that I am reserved or sexually vanilla can be quite difficult. Kink and non-monogamy do not have to go hand in hand.”

“Preconceived notions of monogamy held by other people [that are] projected upon me. Treated as needy/broken.”

“I am bisexual and no one person can meet all of my needs.”

“Loneliness.”

“People having different definitions or practices of non-monogamy, or who don’t understand that I don’t have the energy for more than one serious relationship at once.”

“The gamification of dating, and feeling there's something better and exciting a click away.”

“I hate dating and meeting new people.”

“No one wants commitment, and everyone wants a hookup. While single I’ve taken advantage of that to explore my sexuality, but that isn’t ultimately my relationship goal.”

“People not being open about not wanting monogamy, or assuming you want to be serious too quickly.”

“Everyone I’m into seems to be poly, so my dating pool is smaller. It’s also really hard to date casually— questions come up: When is the right time to make the leap into exclusivity? How do we communicate about that? How will I express my bisexuality after exclusivity is established?”

“The idea that I am un-progressive or insecure for wanting monogamy.”

“My husband and I have recently only started to think about dating other people. Before we met my hardship was finding someone who wanted monogamy in the gay dating scene at such a young age (we were 25 when we met).”

Populations less likely to be seeking monogamy: Bisexual (1.3x less likely), Omnisexual (1.3x less likely), Bicurious (1.5x less likely), Polysexual (1.4x less likely), Gynosexual (1.4x less likely)

“Monogamous partners are not always as well versed in open communication about their feelings and boundaries as their ENM counterparts, and there’s always the risk of people preferring monogamy for heteropatriarchal traditional reasons, which can lead to many assumptions about relationship roles. Again, that’s something that can be addressed by an open and honest conversation.”

“I have to be careful how I compartmentalize relationships with people who aren't monogamous, and upfront about my needs.”

“Feeling frustrated because I expect too much from one person.”

“Misunderstanding what a play-partner is and how a D/s dynamic is not inherently a romantic relationship.”

“I have tried dating poly people. Partners are often absent and/or with other people when I have really needed them. I have felt like I’m getting shoehorned into someone’s schedule. I have struggled to get poly partners to talk about my role in their network of relationships.”

“The increasingly transactional nature of modern dating.”

“I am monogamous, but I don’t require my partners to be, and sometimes they have a hard time believing that.”

“All the same ones I faced when I was dating as an open person.”

“I’m picky.”

“My partner projecting on me that they are bored in a mono relationship, when in reality they need to make their day-to-day more interesting.”

“A lot of spaces for queer people don’t distinguish between polyamory and monogamy. So while I’m finding great people, we’re fundamentally incompatible because we want very different things.”

“I think some of the challenges are finding a partner who communicates well, and also since I'm trans and gay it feels like it's harder to find someone who wants monogamy.”

“I find red flags hot.”

“I think in general most monogamous people haven't challenged their belief system. I might identify as monogamous, but I have challenged that and am open to other types of relationships/situationships. I'm also kinky, and I don't feel the monogamous dating apps are suitable for someone like me.”

Bar graph showing users seeking monogamy by age. Rough estimates: Age 20s (45%), 30s (33%), 40s (28%), 50s (25%)

The graph above shows that people on Feeld are more likely to be looking for a monogamous partner when they’re in their 20s, and then a steady decline for subsequent decades. Is this perhaps a trend that reflects a generational shift (for example, as one demographic grows up, they become more likely to collectively question their ideas about what a relationship can be?), or is it a reflection of individual experience (perhaps, as time goes on, people become more willing to experiment or change their perceptions of what they’re most curious about exploring?) Either way, it’s a good reminder that the only constant in life is change.

Describe your experience on Feeld.

“Freeing and refreshing.”

“Really hard! I’m here because I’m kinky and can’t find that on mainstream dating apps, but most people are partnered and not viable for me. I’m single and don’t want to be someone’s third girlfriend and get a sliver of their time and attention, when I’m looking for someone to fill a primary-sized space in my life.”

“My spouse and I have had fun meeting new threesome and foursome partners.”

“Decent for flings. It helped me figure out that I am definitely not poly, lol.”

“I feel like I can get right down to the point with people.”

“I find Feeld to be a low-pressure, low-stakes environment with a welcoming community.”

“Shows that people are much more fluid than you would think.”

“I love how open and specific people are about their desires.”

“I’m in it for bringing kinky people together.”

Data provided by L Nichols, an artist, MIT-educated engineer, father, and a data analytics associate at Feeld. They are the author of the graphic novel FLOCKS (Secret Acres, 2018) and the upcoming I Am Only a Foreigner Because You Do Not Understand.

Experience what you really desire

Join Feeld and start connecting with open-minded couples and singles today.

All rights reserved Feeld Ltd © 2023