What's A Monogamy Agreement And When Should You Make One?

Relationships, and our idea of what makes a relationship, have been evolving, especially in the last few decades. Although monogamy may still be the most common type of relationship, open relationships and ethical non-monogamy have been on the rise for some time — and openly so. Long gone are the days of keeping unconventional relationships in the dark. 


As many as 23% of the U.S. adults in relationships have a relationship that is non-monogamous to some extent, and 32% of Americans cite non-monogamy as being their "ideal" type of relationship, per YouGov. What's most interesting about the increase of consensual non-monogamous relationships (CNMs) is the impact they're having on monogamous relationships. For example, those in CNMs can teach monogamous partners a thing or two about communication, because in order to have a successful non-monogamous relationship, being open and honest at all times is paramount — something that, perhaps, monogamous relationships struggle to excel at. 

That's why monogamy agreements are coming into already-monogamous relationships: To make sure both partners are clearly, without a doubt, on the same page. 


What's a monogamy agreement?

If you're in a monogamous relationship, there's a pretty good chance that you think a monogamy agreement is something that only non-monogamous relationships need, but that's not true. In writing up a monogamy agreement with your partner, you give each other the opportunity to talk about what monogamy looks like to both of you. It allows each partner to talk in depth about commitment and how they each define it in regard to relationships.


When people find themselves in relationships, especially monogamous ones, they assume each other has the same idea of what commitment is because our society has spoon-fed us their traditional and conventional concept of it, without making space for the "what ifs" that come with relationships. But that doesn't mean that those assumptions are accurate. 

"Monogamy agreements are implicit and explicit commitments we make with our partners regarding our expectations of fidelity," relationship therapist Dr. Tammy Nelson tells Find Your Pleasure. "To have workable monogamy, you have to agree on what works for the both of you."

With your monogamy agreement, there's no room for gray areas because everything has been clearly stipulated. Because of this, if someone strays, there can be no question as to whether infidelity was committed or not; it's all there in the agreement. 


When should you make a monogamy agreement?

How you want to manage your relationship is ultimately your call, but a monogamy agreement is definitely something to consider.

In particular, 2012 research published in the Journal of Sex Research has found that monogamy agreements contribute to higher levels of commitment, as well as increased communication about being protective in matters of sexual health. This can be attributed to the fact that monogamy agreements force a discourse that should be had between partners that isn't had enough because of assumptions about monogamy and societal parameters. If your relationship needs a refresher on what monogamy looks like to you and your partner, then that's the perfect time for a monogamy agreement. 


There is no one way to have a relationship, and when you bring two people into a partnership, there are likely to be disagreements on things as trivial as the best flavor of ice cream, as well as bigger debates, like whether a kiss is cheating. It's with this in mind that having a monogamy agreement can be a good thing. Even if you don't want to write it all down in contract form, just having the conversation about commitment and fidelity can make your monogamous relationship stronger, healthier, and more honest. That reason might be the telltale sign that it's time to sit down with your partner and come up with an agreement.