Monogamish may be the unexpected key to reigniting your love life—here’s why

8 min read -
A couple being monogamish
Table of Contents
Summary: Monogamish relationships, according to Dan Savage, are all about open communication and exploration within commitment. Discover if it’s right for you.
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“Monogamish” might sound like a typo at first glance, a quirky misspelling of “monogamous.” But the term, coined by sex advice columnist and relationship expert Dan Savage, offers a distinct twist on the traditional mode.

While monogamy is more on complete emotional and physical exclusivity with your partner, a monogamish relationship allows for a bit more wiggle room.

That’s the beauty of it, though. It’s the perfect blend of commitment and exploration, and it can offer a fresh take on intimacy for the modern couple.

So if you’re looking for a more modern approach to love or to reignite the flame in your relationship, monogamish might just be what you need.

What is a monogamish relationship?

The “monogomish” definition is essentially monogamy with a little “-ish” to it. The meaning refers to a relationship that is mostly monogamous but allows for some level of sexual activity outside the partnership.

What does the Dan Savage himself say about “monogamish”? Using him and his husband as an example, here’s how Dan puts it: “What monogamish kind of communicates is, you know, we are pair-bonded partners sexually into each other; we have a vibrant sexual relationship with each other, but we allow for attraction to others.”

Think of it as a spectrum. On one end sits traditional monogamy, with zero tolerance for emotional or physical intimacy outside the relationship. On the other end lies the vast openness of ethical non-monogamy, where multiple romantic partners are a possibility.

And monogamish? It carves out a sweet spot in the middle that allows you the exclusivity with the openness to explore desires and fantasies. You could flirt, attend erotic events, or even consume sensual content together—as long as it’s consensual between you and your partner.

Because that’s the key, right? Communication. Especially with 60% of couples citing infidelity as the reason for divorce, ensuring you both know what’s okay and what’s not okay can be the thing that makes or breaks your relationship.

Monogamish vs. open relationship

Both love styles share a desire to move beyond the exclusivity of traditional monogamy. But it begs the question: What does it mean to be in a monogamish relationship versus an open one?

With the former, there are occasional exceptions where you or your partner would be able to explore intimacy externally.

It’s like that one episode of Friends where Joey finds out that his father has been seeing a woman who’s not Mrs. Tribbiani. It turns out, Mrs. Tribbiani knows about the affair but is okay with it as long as he’s still giving her the love and attention she desires. This is monogamish in a nutshell.

An open relationship, on the other hand, focuses less on exclusivity. Instead, there’s more freedom for you or your partner to pursue other romantic and sexual relationships—this is usually under the agreement that it’s consensual non-monogamy (CNM). 

King Louis XIV of France in Canal+’s Versailles, for instance, is a perfect example. He has multiple romances going on at one time, as does his wife, Marie-Thérèse of Spain.

Regardless of whether you’re more open to one or the other, the bottom line is, knowing the differences between the two can help you determine what you and your partner are comfortable with relationship-wise.

A loving couple looking at each other

5 expert-backed tips for making monogamish work

This relationship style can be an eye-opening experience. However, it’s not without its complexity.

So how can you make it work? Here are a few monogamish relationship hacks you can keep in mind:

1. Use the GGG

GGG is another of Dan’s infamous terms, and it stands for “good, giving, and game.” 

It is what I think we should be for our lovers,” he explains during a stage talk at Mindvalley’s A-Fest 2017 in Ibiza. “And what we have a right to expect our lovers to be for us.”

The concept suggests you should be…

  • Good in bed,
  • Give equal time and pleasure to your partner, and
  • Game for anything (within reason).

Being GGG means actively caring for your partner’s sexual satisfaction and respecting your agreed-upon boundaries

Think of it as a team effort. You’re working together to keep the spark alive in your monogamish relationship. And even though some outside experiences might be allowed, the focus is still on keeping your relationship strong and fulfilling for both of you.

2. Know the “price of admission”

Picture this: You pay for a thrilling roller coaster ride. While you’re on it, you complain the whole time about the price. 

It’s the same in relationships, according to Dan. There will be things you have to accept about your partner, a kind of “price of admission” for being with them.

You’re not going to get everything you want,” he says. But you gain the joy of being with “The One.” 

For example, maybe your partner leaves dirty dishes around. Initially, you might nag them to clean up. But eventually, you might decide it’s a small price to pay for a happy relationship.

It’s a compromise, so to speak. As Dan points out, “You have to decide for yourself: ‘Is that a price submission I’m willing to pay to be in this relationship?’

3. Use the four magic words

It’s no secret that healthy relationships rely on open communication. Research shows that good communication can lead to more satisfaction, and high satisfaction can lead to better communication.

This is especially important when it comes to intimacy. So what does Dan suggest? Using the four magic words: What are you into?

This approach is part of what Neelam Verma, a conscious dating expert and trainer of Mindvalley’s Finding Love with Integrity Dating Quest, calls “conscious conversations.” 

It’s when you speak from a place of honesty, authenticity, transparency, and intentionality,” she explains. “You don’t communicate from a place of fear, judgment, scarcity, or assumptions.”

By expressing your needs and listening openly to your partner’s, you can build trust and understanding. This fosters a healthy foundation for intimacy and prevents the formation of trauma bonds, which can arise from secrecy, manipulation, or unmet needs.

So, four words: What are you into? Simple. Straightforward. Powerful.

4. Step away from toxic energy

Energy is powerful, and it gets entangled with those that we emotionally and physically connect with,” says Neelam. And when it comes to monogamish settings, you tend to get entangled with more than your partner, which means you’re more open to all kinds of energy, even toxic ones.

When you’re surrounded by unhealthy relationships and situations, you drain yourself of your life force, your energy,” adds the founder of Integrity Dating. That’s why she highly recommends breaking up with toxic energy, removing harmful influences and behaviors that disrupt the harmony of your relationship.

This could involve setting boundaries with external partners who threaten the primary relationship’s stability. It also means avoiding gaslighting, jealousy, or possessiveness.

This practice helps maintain a healthy emotional environment where both you and your partner feel secure and supported, no matter what external activities may be going on.

5. Be the love of your life

We all desire love and a partner who accepts us for who we are, and we know that relationships are about unconditional love,” Neelam points out. “But many of us have never learned that it’s about unconditional love for ourselves first.”

Look at it this way: You can’t truly give love unless you have a full cup to pour from. By prioritizing self-love, you fill your cup with happiness, worthiness, and strong boundaries. You radiate confidence and self-respect.

This releases the pressure of looking for someone to make you happy. And dating? It becomes a place where two souls are connecting, growing, and evolving together instead of completing each other.

How Do I Know If a Monogamish Relationship Is Right for Me?

There’s a unique blend of emotional intimacy and exploration when you’re monogamish. But is it the right fit for you?

Here are some questions to consider:

  1. Do you value emotional exclusivity?
  2. Are you curious about exploring desires outside of the relationship?
  3. Can you openly communicate boundaries?
  4. Are you comfortable navigating potential jealousy?
  5. Are you willing to put in the effort?

Take time to answer these questions honestly. It’ll help you determine if this relationship style aligns with your values and desires.

FAQ

Is monogamish the same as polyamory?

While both share some openness, there’s a key difference:

  • Monogamish prioritizes a primary partner but allows explorations outside the relationship with clear boundaries and open communication. The emotional connection remains primarily with your main squeeze.
  • Polyamory involves having multiple romantic relationships, all with the knowledge and consent of everyone involved. Love and emotional intimacy can be shared with several partners.

Ultimately, the choice between the two depends on what your relationship goals are.

How can I deal with jealousy in a monogamish relationship?

Jealousy is bound to strike up in any kind of relationship, including monogamish ones. After all, we’re only humans.

Handling this kind of reactive emotion begins with knowing yourself and talking openly. When you feel jealous, notice those feelings and talk to your partner calmly. Avoid blaming them.

By sharing how you honestly feel, you can both understand each other better and find comfort. Also, agreeing on rules that make both of you feel safe can help keep that green monster in check.

How do I communicate about boundaries in a monogamish relationship?

Boundaries are not meant to restrict or control. It’s there to help create a safe and enjoyable space for exploration within your committed relationship.

Here’s how you can express yours:

  • Use “I” statements to express your needs and feelings. For example, “I feel uncomfortable when…” That’s way more constructive than “You shouldn’t be…
  • Listen actively to your partner’s perspective. Acknowledge their feelings and concerns without judgment.
  • Be open and honest about what kind of exploration feels comfortable for both of you. This could include types of activities, frequency, and communication preferences.
  • Renegotiate your needs and desires, which may evolve over time, and make adjustments as needed through open and honest communication.

Remember: By communicating openly and respectfully, you can establish clear boundaries that work for both of you.

Love deeper, connect stronger

Love is a great purpose to have in life. However, as Neelam Verma points out, “We can only love each other to the extent that we love ourselves.”

That’s the basis of her Quest, Finding Love with Integrity Dating, at Mindvalley. It goes beyond swiping and superficiality; instead, it guides you to build confidence and attract amazing partners, discover your true desires and stop settling, and learn to communicate for deeper connections.

That’s exactly what Matthew Cook, a content web developer from Mullumbimby, Australia, learned:

Having experienced considerable periods of being single because of the lack of availability of someone with the right values and lifestyle choices and being put down for choosing integrity. It feels good to be supported and positively visualize and affirm the presence of a partner with integrity.”

When you sign up for a free Mindvalley account, you can access the first few lessons of Neelam’s Quest.

It’ll be the start of a beautiful journey. And it’s going to be worth it.

Welcome in.

Watch the First Lesson of the Quest

Finding Love With Integrity Dating With Neelam Verma

International speaker and dating expert Neelam Verma teaches the art of better dating. You'll learn how to end the endless cycle of bad dates and create unforgettable encounters with potential partners that light up your heart and soul.Get started for free

Tatiana Azman

Tatiana Azman

Tatiana Azman is the SEO content editor for Mindvalley and a certified life coach. With a background in spa and wellness as well as having gone through a cancer experience, she's constantly on the lookout for natural, effective ways that help with one's overall well-being.
Written by

Tatiana Azman

Tatiana Azman is the SEO content editor for Mindvalley and a certified life coach. With a background in spa and wellness as well as having gone through a cancer experience, she's constantly on the lookout for natural, effective ways that help with one's overall well-being.
Dan Savage, sex advice columnist and relationship expert
Expertise by

Dan Savage is best known for his frank and informative sex advice column, “Savage Love,” which is syndicated in newspapers worldwide. He’s also a journalist and media personality, often being invited on talk shows and podcasts to offer his sharp wit and insights on social issues.

On top of that, Savage is a champion for LGBTQ+ rights. In 2010, he co-founded the It Gets Better Project, a powerful initiative that helps prevent suicide among LGBTQ+ youth.

Neelam Verma
Expertise by

Neelam Verma, an upcoming Mindvalley trainer for the Finding Love with Integrity Dating Quest, is a former TV presenter and Miss Universe finalist. After a near-death experience, she embarked on a spiritual journey, learning about love and relationships from experts and healers.

She founded Integrity Dating to revolutionize dating with a conscious, heart-centered approach. Neelam offers transformative courses, events, and coaching, helping people find love with integrity. Her mission is to change dating from mere entertainment to finding true love.

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Mindvalley is committed to providing reliable and trustworthy content. We rely heavily on evidence-based sources, including peer-reviewed studies and insights from recognized experts in various personal growth fields. Our goal is to keep the information we share both current and factual. To learn more about our dedication to reliable reporting, you can read our detailed editorial standards.
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Mindvalley is committed to providing reliable and trustworthy content. 

We rely heavily on evidence-based sources, including peer-reviewed studies and insights from recognized experts in various personal growth fields. Our goal is to keep the information we share both current and factual. 

The Mindvalley fact-checking guidelines are based on:

To learn more about our dedication to reliable reporting, you can read our detailed editorial standards.