Ethical Non-Monogamy Needs Its Own App–Fight Me

I’m your huckleberry.

Photo by me.

I am Batman. I guard this Galaxy. I boldly text what no woman has texted before. In literal terms, I don’t put up with a guy’s garbage treatment of me on dating apps, because I know it’s not just happening to me, it’s happening to other women, too. And I’m going to stop it. Or at least try.

My favorite example of this is ethically non-monogamous guys. Let’s ignore for one quick moment that I don’t know anyone, not one person, who is ethically non-monogamous in real life. But every actually attractive, seemingly good-guy human being on dating apps who does not DJ or photograph hot models for a living somehow is. Okay.

No matter how many disclaimers or asides I include in my writing, I always get attacked by the non-monogamous set, so you know what–bring it. I don’t care anymore. My premise always been thus: There is nothing wrong with ethically non-monogamous people existing and being ethically non-monogamous in the world. What I take issue with is when they hunt on single people grounds.

Dating apps are and always have been (look through history at the advertising, I don’t have time, I’d like to get to the farmer’s market), for single people. Marketed to single people. For people who have no one to find someone. And then at some point, ethically non-monogamous people decided to hop onto single people’s dating apps and prey among them, in search of even more attention, affection, and sex, because they apparently don’t have enough attention, affection, and sex sitting on the other end of the couch. You know what’s on the other end of my couch? Pillows. From Target. Got them on sale.

While I’m at it, my biggest question surrounding ethical non-monogamy was always this: As humans living in the world, people will come into our lives on occasion that we connect with, perhaps are even attracted to. I was under the impression that ethical non-monogamy existed to open up the ability to explore these relationships, without causing harm to or ending one’s primary relationship that one would very much like to keep. I wasn’t aware that ethical non-monogamy meant “actively search for new people to sleep with all the time.” And have at me in the comments. First of all, you increase my engagement rate, but second of all, I’m actually dealing with this every day, so I don’t want to hear about how “narrow” you think my views on sexuality are. This has nothing to do with sexuality, this has to do with treating other people with respect.

If you’re unfamiliar with the dating profiles I come across on a daily basis, first of all–congrats, and second of all, they go a little something like this:

Hi, I’m Tim. I’m in an ethically non-monogamous marriage with the love of my life.


Gals, don’t you love it when they say that? “Married to the love of my life.” It makes me cackle because they think saying this makes them sound like a good guy. What it really sounds like is this:

Hi, I’m Tim, and I’m married to the person I actually love, and that’ll never be you. Let’s meet for two drinks, fuck at your place, then I need to get home before sunrise because she’s making blueberry pancakes. They’re delish.

I’m not going to ask the ethically non-monogamous what their goal is in using a dating app where single people are trying to find some company. I know what their goal is. I’m often shamed for assuming their goal (for the record, it’s attachment free, money free, commitment free, last-name free sex), and that they might be on dating apps for another reason. Like there’s something else to ethical non-monogamy’s presence on dating apps.

But here’s where that shaming falls apart. Whenever I sense an opportunity, I send this message to ethically non-monogamous men on Tinder:

There are two responses, literally just two, that I have received from men who receive this message. By far the most common is, almost verbatim:

This message was sent to me from the same man in the exchange above.

That’s the first response. The second response is the shaming, trying to make me feel bad for assuming all they’re after is sex. So in the same breath these men are belittling me by making sure I “know what Tinder is, right?” and then shaming me for implying that they’re using Tinder for exactly that purpose.

Oh, I’m sorry. You’re hunting for single women for something other than sex? Okay, let’s play that record through:

  • Ethically Non-Monogamous Guy matches with single girl
  • Guy says hello to girl
  • Guy and girl make plans to meet for drinks
  • Guy and girl really hit it off
  • Guy and girl make plans to see each other again
  • Relationship and attraction grow in strength
  • Guy and girl sleep together in a mutually respectful and affectionate way
  • Guy texts girl the next day
  • Guy and girl really enjoy spending time together
  • Guy and girl begin seeing each other often
  • It’s been three months, girl would like to introduce guy to her friends now
  • Girl asks guy to join her and her friends for day drinks and bowling on Saturday
  • Guy can’t make it, because his wife has tickets to Lion King
  • Girl wants guy to make her a priority
  • Guy can’t make girl a priority, because she isn’t the priority. His fucking wife is.

“You know what Tinder is, right?” Have you ever read a more condescending, demeaning sentence? Yes, Tim–I know what Tinder is. I know it’s not a place where I should be cool with a for-free, sex work-like transaction, because I’m not a sex worker. I know it’s not a place where people who have companionship should be able to prey on those who don’t. I know it’s not a place where I should be seen as living, breathing hole for a man to insert himself into before washing off the scent of me and returning to someone he actually cares for, respects, and sees a future with. I am the future. I am Batman.

So I think ethically non-monogamous people who are looking to engage in ethically non-monogamous behavior should have their own app where they can do as they please. Hell, even single people who specifically want to connect with ethically non-monogamous people could be on there, too. But there wouldn’t be this invasion of a single people space by those who already come home to an apartment that’s not empty. We don’t deserve to be treated like your B team. We’re straight A’s.

“You know what Tinder is, right?” Asshole, I know what available is, and you ain’t it.

NPR once called me a humor essayist, let’s go with that. Host of A Single Serving Podcast. shanisilver[at]gmail

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