Nick Cannon said practicing consensual non-monogamy, where a person has more than one sexual or romantic partner with the consent of everyone involved, has helped him leave his toxic dating tendencies in the past.
Cannon discussed the topic with R&B duo DVSN and sex therapist and “Open Monogamy” author Tammy Nelson on July 21 during a live YouTube discussion. He said he used to be “toxic” and a “cheater” before learning about alternative relationships outside of monogamy.
But leaning into non-monogamy has made him a more honest and trustworthy partner, Cannon said. Before trying a non-monogamous dynamic, Cannon said his word “meant nothing” to his partners because he would lie about his whereabouts.
Since exploring non-monogamy and working with a therapist, Cannon has changed his strategy. Now, he discusses his relationship intentions and abilities with a new potential partner before they agree to anything, he said.
Cannon noticed his relationships improved “when you enter these scenarios with the right approach, when there’s no malice involved, when you’re not trying to be dishonest or lie,” but focus on respecting the person.
According to Nelson, if more people knew how to have these conversations without fear or judgment, they’d consider non-traditional relationship dynamics like Cannon.
Nelson said long-held ideas about what monogamy should look like are changing as more people realize they can tailor relationships around their needs and desires.
During the discussion, she explained that open monogamy means “you have a primary or central partner but you have a flexible and fluid relationship agreement” you decide on together.
“This is not your grandmother’s monogamy,” Nelson said. She added that healthy monogamy should be less focused on societally created morals like marriage or the nuclear family, and more focused on personal integrity.
That could look like a couple discussing their sexual fantasies and then deciding together how to put those into action. For example, you and your partner may agree it’s fine to flirt or dance with others when you go out alone, but you’ve created a boundary around sex with others.
“The benefit of an open agreement is that everybody is on board and everybody knows this is what we’re all here for,” Nelson said.
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