Are Life Partners the New Marriage?

4 min readFeb 24, 2020

On non-monogamy, commitment, and freedom.

Photo by Djim Loic on Unsplash

I’ve seen more people than ever stating that they’re looking for a “non-monogamous” relationship. In dating app bios, general conversation, and on actual dates, I’m amazed at how many men I’ve encountered over the past year who specify this. They say that they’re fine with long-term just not exclusive relationships. And though I appreciate the honesty, it’s not the norm to which we’ve grown accustomed, so it seems odd.

What’s happening? Is this the new normal?

Even megastars Will and Jada Pinkett-Smith recently let it be known that they don’t consider themselves married anymore, but life partners. For them, this means that they’ve committed to supporting one another until the end of their days and neither will have to want for anything as long as the other is alive. The couple didn’t say explicitly that they’re nonexclusive, and even denounced the idea of an open marriage — but they made it clear that romantic fidelity is not the basis of their union.

I suppose our perspective depends on where we place the greatest emphasis. There are many more heartbreaks and betrayals that can be inflicted upon us by a partner than cheating. But traditionally, monogamy has been a foundation of committed relationships, and especially marriage.

Certainly, many additional factors go into the declining marriage rate and increasing cohabitation rate in the United States than wanting to sleep with other people. However, the idea of non-monogamy, and more importantly, the recent boldness in pursuing it must be an element. Expressing a desire to have multiple sex partners used to be frowned upon and reduced to being nasty or a whore. It still carries a negative connotation with some, but the perception overall has softened.

To some, non-monogamy is about freedom and autonomy.

One guy explained to me that he’s no longer interested in exclusivity because he feels it creates, for him, unrealistic demands and expectations. He sees being forthcoming with himself and others about his wants as integrous.

Younger generations seem less interested in avowing to one person for eternity. In fact, speaking of the…




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