Does Non-Monogamy Make You Happy?


Does Non-Monogamy Make You Happy?Friday morning at five o’clock I found myself on a long coach journey, headed North for the wedding of one of my oldest friends. We met at ten, disliked one another at fourteen, fucked each other at eighteen, paced the stage as lovers at nineteen, and at twenty-three I am proud to say we are still tight enough that I was sat just one row behind his family, in a small church, as he said his vows to the beautiful red-headed girl he met at university. And truly, sincerely, I could not be happier for them both. I might not have a huge amount of faith in marriage as the be-all and end-all of love, but I do think they will have – at the very least! – a few, maybe many, wonderful years together.

But this story isn’t about the newlyweds This story is about the friends I was reunited with as I looked up at the alter. On my right side sat a girl I have fought with and slept beside probably more than any other, whilst on my left side was the first man I ever played the (rather mild) submissive with. To say I was a little nervous to see them again would be an understatement. Not because of what we have all shared, but because of the distance that has grown; I wondered if they would really know me any more, and just how well it would be received when, in answer to the inevitable questions about love-lives and (as the wine bottles grew empty) sex lives, I would tell them about non-monogamy and a rather darker brand of kink.

As it turns out, my fears were misplaced. It seems that even at fifteen, in many important respects, I knew how to choose my friends. Instead of the judgement I feared, my explanations were met with interest and further questions. I was queried on my various relationships, the people involved and the dynamics therein, and couldn’t help but smile when the gentlest of my old friends admitted to indulging in a little spanking from time to time.

But the question that struck me as being most poignant, came from the friend with whom I shared a bed and fought so many times. The morning after the wedding, slung across sofas, and nursing hangovers, she looked me in the eye and asked, point blank, “Does non-monogamy make you happy?”

The simplest, most obvious question, and I have never even thought to consider it, let alone actually had it asked of me. Perhaps it seems a little arbitrary; why would I do something so out of the norm, if it didn’t make me happy? Why take on the added strain of multiple partners and the time it takes to communicate with not just one person, but five, unless I was taking pleasure from the situation?

The reason this question struck me as being so particularly pertinent, is its total disregard of the usual, nonsense questions I am required to answer. It doesn’t matter if we – that is people in non-monogamous relationships – have to deal with more jealousy, or if our relationships are perceived as being odd; who cares where we lay our heads, or who we share our kisses with? Just so long as we are happy.

It cuts through all the political and social bullshit we are usually expected to consider, bypasses the tonnes of expectation, and goes right to the heart of the issue. And yes, I was pleased to smile back at her, nod and say, “Yes – it does make me happy. It really does.”


Harper Eliot is a writer and podcaster whose work mainly centers around eroticism and social observation. You can find an archive of work, and links to all her other projects, on her website Harper Eliot. Harper lives in London, but rarely sees her own house, spending most of her time on public transport, listening to podcasts and tweeting too much. Her vices include cigarettes, lubricant, Earl Grey tea, opera, nail polish, and pinwheels.


  1. of course it makes you happy. to be “open” is you getting whatever YOU want. you first, right? at all times. it’s you getting what YOU want and NEVER having commitment to anyone else. god i don’t envy you. i live for connection and respect, not ALWAYS having to wonder who my man’s fucking behind my back. trust and compromise are not in your vocabulary. i don’t envy you. your “freedom” is just a lack of maturity and worse yet, a lack of regard for anyone else.

    • For Alexa, While I am not in a non-monogamous relationship, it seems to me what Harper is doing is the opposite of what you are talking about. Also, with your point of view it seems to me the only reason you would be reading a blog about swinging would be if swinging had affected you personally. You seem a bit, uh, bitter. If you do, in fact, have ‘issues’ I think it is probably to do with someone not like Harper, and perhaps not as honest as she. Maybe that’s where you need to direct your resentment, not at a woman who is being up front with everyone she is involved with.

  2. Whoa, @Alexa, that’s pretty harsh and not nice at all. One of the mottos I live by is ancient: “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all…and that goes double for a public blog…for goodness sake!” I read Harper’s post and was proud of her for crystallizing her life down to the most important question….the one that should define how we make all our choices: is this adding to or detracting from our lives? Harper, what a great post! I am glad you have such amazing friends, old and new 🙂

  3. This a lovely realisation for you to have, I’m very happy for you! I am in theory, though not in practice, in a Mono/Poly marriage (if that’s even the right label – I hate labels). My wife is the most incredible, lovely person in the world and she acts as though she feels the same about me. The reason we decided for me to go poly is too convoluted to go in to here, but the relevance of it to your post is that my marriage provides all the happiness I need, but that being poly may lead us in to other exciting adventures and therefore add to our happiness. We do whatever we do to make ourselves happy. As long as no-one gets hurt, then the world is a better place.

  4. Thank you to everyone who has commented – especially Alexa: your piece of ill-informed, judgemental, and rude negativity feels like a rite of passage for me. I just wish there were fewer of you out there.

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