Consensual Non-Monogamy:
What Is This New Label?

During a recent podcast, I interviewed David Singer, a licensed marriage and family therapist, and a poly- and kink-aware professional who practices in Los Angeles, California. He specializes in working with people practicing or exploring consensual non-monogamy, those involved in kink and power-exchange relationships, and professional sex workers.

Singer has a master’s degree in clinical psychology with an emphasis on marriage and family therapy. He also has more than a decade of experience working with police and fire departments to help survivors of trauma.

Our interview focused on consensual non-monogamy, as well as the kink lifestyle, and what all of this means.

Here is an excerpt from the interview:

I understand you are not just a kink aware professional, but you also are active in the lifestyle, which gives you greater empathyfor the challenges facing this population.

David Singer (DS): Correct. For a long time, I provided this type of service in my practice but more on the DL. It was a slow process before I eventually said, “I’m actually part of this lifestyle.” I was a little worried about how people would react, but it’s been pretty positive.

Positive from other therapists, too? 

DS:  Yes. That one surprised me, especially over the last couple of years when I have really tried to claim this niche of LA King Shrink.

You instantly became safe because you’ve come out, and you’ve created safety for others to come out?

DS: I hope so. It’s really impossible, I think, in good conscience, to be in a room with a client and talk about accepting yourself, and loving yourself, while you are at the same time not doing it yourself.

Now, let’s talk about what you call consensual non-monogamy. What does it mean when you say consensual non-monogamy? 

DS: It’s the idea of being either sexual, or sexual and romantic, or romantic, with more than one person. And you can do that with honor, integrity and transparency. Nowadays people talk about polyamory, the idea of being in multiple relationships. That’s one type of consensual non-monogamy. You’ve also heard the term monogamish. That kind of counts as a consensual non-monogamy. Or, it’s like a hall pass. In some relationships, when the partner travels on business, for example, you can do what you want to do as long as there is communication and there’s honesty. it’s not cheating.

I also think that can include consensual monogamy. When I ask my couples if they are monogamous, I also ask them if they have negotiated monogamy. For example, can they flirt on Facebook? Can they send private photos? Can they go online with someone in Romania and have web sex? One partner may say no, but the other may say maybe. You realize they have an implicit contract but not an explicit contract. So, isn’t it the same thing? 

DS: I’m glad you asked that question because a lot of therapists don’t ask. Asking the question opens the door to being able to talk about it. And I love, like you said, consensual monogamy. I’m not against monogamy. I do think it’s become this automatic default that people get into because they don’t think they have any other choice. My experience has been, there’s no binary. I think some people are wired monogamous, and there’s nothing wrong with it. But explore it, make your choices consciously.