Ask Layla

‘I can’t shake the feeling that there may be more to intimacy than what our monogamous relationship offers’

In the first of our new weekly advice column, Ask Layla, psychologist Layla Collins offers advice on whether non-monogamy within a long-term relationship can ever really work


I'm in a long-term marriage with my husband, and we have two beautiful children. Lately, I've been grappling with the idea of non-monogamy. It's a concept that has intrigued me for some time now, but I'm struggling with how to approach this topic with my husband, who doesn't share the same desire for exploration outside of our marriage.

While I deeply love and cherish my husband, I can't shake the feeling that there may be more to intimacy and connection than what our monogamous relationship offers. I find myself yearning for experiences and connections beyond the confines of our marriage, yet I fear that expressing these desires may jeopardise the stability and trust we've built over the years.

I understand that introducing the topic of non-monogamy can be incredibly challenging, especially when one partner isn't on board. I worry about causing hurt or misunderstanding and about the potential repercussions for our family dynamic. Our children are our top priority, and I want to ensure that any decisions we make ultimately serve their well-being.

I'm torn between my desire for personal growth and exploration and my commitment to our marriage and family. I wonder if there's a way to find a compromise or if pursuing non-monogamy is something I must navigate on my own. How do I approach this conversation with my husband in a way that is respectful and compassionate? How can I reconcile my desires with the potential impact they may have on our relationship?

I'm also grappling with feelings of guilt and uncertainty about whether my desires for non-monogamy are valid or if they signify a deeper issue within our marriage. How do I distinguish between a genuine need for exploration and mere dissatisfaction with our current relationship?

I recognise that there may not be easy answers to these questions, but I'm seeking guidance and support as I navigate this complex and emotionally charged territory.


I empathise with your situation and understand your apprehension about broaching this delicate issue. Despite the increased awareness and discussion surrounding open long-term relationships and marriages, it remains a relatively novel concept and not one to approach lightly.

Before discussing this with your husband, it's crucial to weigh the potential consequences carefully. Consider all possible scenarios that may arise should you decide to proceed. Do you have a reliable support system in place to assist you through this transition? Are there understanding friends or a therapist you can turn to? Concerns about societal judgment and the potential impact on your marriage are valid; while some couples thrive in open relationships, others find it challenging to navigate.

Your partner's capacity to manage feelings of insecurity or jealousy may differ from yours. They might require time to familiarise themselves with the concept of non-monogamy and the potential conflicts it could introduce into your relationship. How effectively you both handle conflicts can serve as an indicator of your ability to manage a non-monogamous dynamic. Open communication is essential in relationships involving more than two people's emotions. Before venturing into non-monogamy, extensive discussions and mutual agreement are imperative to safeguard the primary relationship, i.e., you and your husband, from underlying resentments.

Have you considered couples therapy? This could offer a constructive platform to address underlying issues in your relationship and facilitate open dialogue about non-monogamy. A skilled therapist could guide you both in navigating this discussion and identifying areas that may need attention within your relationship. However, if you've exhausted other avenues and still harbour a strong curiosity about non-monogamy, there are numerous resources available to gain further insight into its intricacies.

Embarking on non-monogamy requires courage and may entail significant upheaval in your marriage. While external judgment is inevitable, only you can determine if this leap into the unknown is necessary for your fulfilment. Regarding the impact on your children, discretion is paramount. This decision should be confined to adult conversations, and children need not be involved unless there are significant changes in the marriage structure. Any extramarital affairs should not encroach upon the family home, respecting ethical boundaries of parenting.

Approaching the topic of non-monogamy requires careful consideration and open communication. Your journey toward understanding and potentially embracing this lifestyle shift should be guided by introspection and mutual respect within your relationship.

For more reading, both these perspectives may be helpful.

Dan Savages website is also great.

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