When non-monogamy looks more like an affair

If you have the green light to have sex with other people, is it still cheating?

Liz Sinclair
6 min readJan 17, 2024
Photo by Deon Black on Unsplash

I recently read a post by Anne Shark about how she’d been struggling with her partner’s polyamorous relationship with another partner. She likened some of the feelings she’d been experiencing, and some of his actions, to an affair.

She wrote: “As in affairs, there were existing issues between us, he fell in love with someone else, escaped our issues with the drug of NRE, it wreaked havoc on my sense of security, namely that at least he was there, even if we had our issues.”

She went on to write: “Of course, his relationship wasn’t technically an affair, as we are coming from a place of non-monogamy. But the betrayal I felt was unmistakable.”

These words deeply resonated with me. I’ve been feeling a very similar dissonance. Yes, like Annie, my husband and agreed on non-monogamy. But right now it’s feeling a lot more like an affair, including an “other woman” and feelings of betrayal, than non-monogamy.

It’s an interesting dissonance. I’ve found myself grappling with this paradox and the dichotomy between what I had understood was our non-monogamous understanding and the emotional reality of betrayal. It’s arguably all in a grey zone…



Liz Sinclair

Ordinary, middle-aged, university educated, working mother of three in a long-term loving marriage. Oh, and also non monogamous.