For Kristina, two boyfriends are exactly two too many. When she arrived at Syracuse freshman year, Kristina had certain ideas about what her romantic life would entail.It’s a Friday night in January 2013, the last weekend of the term that sorority girls at Syracuse University can go out until rush season is over, and so it’s pretty much destined to be a rager, especially for Kristina, a 20-year-old junior who jokingly calls herself the “Asian Snooki” because of her impressive ability to throw down. In a small bedroom in Kristina’s sorority house, her friend Ashley stands in front of a mirror wearing a blue miniskirt and a loose tee, the bagginess of which Kristina eyes skeptically. “As a freshman, you're like, ‘OK, maybe I'll find my college sweetheart and we'll be together forever and we'll graduate and it'll be perfect,’” she tells me later.
And in this, Millennials realize that they’re pushing the boundaries of the sexual revolution beyond what their parents might have expected and their grandparents could even conceive.By and large, Leah and Ryan feel comfortable with friends their age knowing that they sleep with other people, but are not as comfortable telling older people (for this reason, and for fear of professional repercussions, they’ve asked me to change their names for this article).In fact, Leah and Ryan are noticing a trend that’s been on the radar of therapists and psychologists for several years now.Termed “The New Monogamy” in the journal it’s a type of polyamory in which the goal is to have one long-standing relationship and a willingness to openly acknowledge that the long-standing relationship might not meet each partner’s emotional and sexual needs for all time.In other words, Leah’s is a generation that has been raised with the concept of sexual freedom and without solid guidelines for how to make monogamy work.
That some brand of non-monogamy would appeal to large numbers of them is thus unsurprising.
Ryan is a young Generation X’er, while she’s an older Millennial.
While both generations were raised by Baby Boomers – who not only initiated the sexual revolution, making acceptable the concept of sex outside the confines of marriage, but who then went on to mostly pair off in traditional marriages – hers was the generation in which the greatest percentage of those partnerships ended in divorce (the divorce rate peaked in the early Eighties, right around the time it’s believed that the Millennial generation began).
But Leah and Ryan, 32 and 38, respectively, don’t fit these preconceived ideas. She wears pretty skirts; he wears jeans and trendy glasses.
They have a large, downtown apartment with a sweeping view and are possessed of the type of hip hyperawareness that lets them head off any assumptions as to what their arrangement might entail.
“I remember the first night, I was telling him about my difficulty with monogamy,” she says.