There are many templates for what a committed, monogamous, heterosexual relationship should look like. Everywhere we look, we see individuals engulfed in monogamous (generally heterosexual) couple hood which quite often leads to marriage.
I don't wish to suggest that all these references to such relationships are bad in any way. But what about all of those relationship types that lie outside of this normative way of thinking? For example, those who identify with their more kinky, non monogamous, gender-fluid side? In relation, they have a significantly smaller pool of role models to pick from.
Poly and non monogamous individuals cannot just turn on the TV and find examples of similar, healthy relationships in movies.Trans-identified or kink friendly individuals can't simply pick up a book and assume that the relationships within are going to be relevant to their own situations.
When ones lifestyle does not fall within the range of what society deems normal, one must work a little harder to get the information needed to have it all make sense.
Living outside of the box requires one to have to look a little harder to find like-minded individuals. You have to be more conscientious and communicative when it comes to relationships because, let's face it, most people assume that you rock and roll the way they do.
With that said, these "alternative lifestyle" individuals often seek out larger groups of like-minded people, thus ultimately forming a community. And, because these communities are often sub groups of sub groups, (as opposed to heterosexual and monogamous), each individual has to be more specific as to which role they identify with. The labels within the communities go much deeper than straight, gay, bi, pan sexual, trans, kink, and so on. But, there might be something good about these labels.
The great thing about not identifying with the rest of society is that you have to be crystal clear about what you want and need in a relationship. And because this is fluid and ever changing, you have no choice but to be on top of your feelings at all times, aware and not just that but you've got to be able to communicate it with your partner.
The kink and non monogamous communities live under doctrines of communication, consent and honesty.
Non monogamous individuals need to address things like jealousy and insecurity on a regular basis, because it comes up all the time when you're actively seeking to engage in non-monogamous situations.
An ethical polyamorous individual should not be afraid, but should embrace the awkward and difficult conversations about being attracted to someone other than their primary partner (that is, if they even follow the dogma of "primary" and "secondary" partners, which is still based on a very monogamous frame).
Similarly, an individual who believes him/herself part of a kink community must address things like trust and safety on a regular basis. Most monogamous, heterosexuals don't need to discuss these issues regularly, and this perpetuates a habit of avoiding important potential problems.
Although community-focused relationships exist today, they are still a great anomaly. The most common dismissal of alternative lifestyle takes the form of that common phrase, "That's just not for me."
And, you don't need to enjoy BDSM, kinky sex or open relationships, but the important distinction is that these communities are not just about the sex. In fact, having a kinky or open relationship lifestyle does not automatically lead to being a part of a community that believes in openness, honesty, communication and consent.
Being part of the community means integrating oneself with like-minded people and incorporating these doctrines in your romantic and intimate practices whether you are gay, trans, monogamous, kinky, vanilla or whatever. And the truth of the matter is that our culture, with its emphasis on couple hood, love and romance, could really learn a lot about living authentically from these communities as well.