Ethical Non Monogamy: How And Why Non-Monogamous Relationships Work
Many of us in the United States grew up in a culture that reflected serial monogamy. It was presented as, possibly, the only option when it came to love and sex. Perhaps, you grew up in a family that valued marriage, and the expectation placed on you was that you would grow up, find one partner, and be in a long term monogamous married partnership with them. But what if that’s not what you want? There are many reasons that a person might identify with non-monogamy. You and the person or people you’re connected to might value variety in love and sex, or you may be drawn to multiple people instead of only one. You might also identify with non-monogamy because it’s only true that different people can provide different things. For example, an asexual partner may not want to have sex, and another partner might fill that need. The same could be true for a number of other physical or emotional needs and desires. Sometimes, it’s about openness to new experiences as a general concept; you might meet someone and decide to be in an open relationship from the start so that there’s a base for the conversation to happen on if either or both of you should choose to get another person involved, or you might just know that you want to explore your sexuality. The common theme in all these scenarios is that they must be ethical to work.
What Is Defined As An Ethical Non-Monogamy?
Ethical non-monogamy is when a relationship involves more than two people with consent from all parties involved. The Merriam-Webster definition of “monogamy” is “the state or practice of having only one sexual partner at a time,” “the state or custom of being married to only one person at a time,” or, as it relates to zoology, “the condition or practice of having a single mate during a period of time.” If you are non-monogamous, you may have more than one partner. The ethical component of ethical non-monogamy relates to the following:
Everyone in the partnership agrees to and is comfortable with its terms.
Everyone in the partnership has a full, consistent understanding of what is considered cheating and what is not considered cheating within the relationship.
Everyone in the partnership treats one another with respect.
There is ongoing communication in the relationship that allows the above to be true.
In an ethical non-monogamous relationship, a person won’t be pushed, pulled, or bullied into bending their open marriage rules. They will feel loved and respected, and the entirety of the relationship will be consensual and agreed on by all of the people involved.
Different Types Of Ethical Non-Monogamy
There are terms that describe specific types of non-monogamous relationships. Here are some terms you might come across when learning about non-monogamy and what they mean.
The dictionary definition of polyamory is “the practice of engaging in multiple sexual relationships with the consent of all the people involved.” It refers to having a consensual romantic relationship with multiple partners or the desire to do so.
Polygamy refers to having more than one husband or wife in a relationship. It differs from polyamory because polygamy refers to marriage specifically.
An open relationship refers to an existing relationship that is open to the inclusion of people outside of the primary partnership. It differs from polyamory in the sense that when people use the term “open relationship,” they are generally referring to a primary relationship of two people that is open to including additional individuals, whereas polyamory includes multiple partners without two being considered the primary person of the relationship.
Swinging Or Swingers
Swinging refers to the practice of switching partners with another couple in a consensual manner. People who identify as a swinger sometimes engages in group sex or sex that includes multiple sexual partners at once.
You might also come across people who haven’t been in a non-monogamous relationship but are interested in it or are new to opening up their relationship. These people may consider themselves “Monogamish” or “open to non-monogamy.”
What Should I Do If The People Around Me Don’t Understand Non-Monogamy?
Sometimes, the people around you won’t understand you or your choices. That relates to your romantic life, your career, and, really, any other choices that you make. If you are new to non-monogamy, your views on it may be blurred by the things that you’ve heard from those surrounding you who don’t support it or understand what it means to be non-monogamous. Studies show that views surrounding non-monogamy are changing in the younger generations, millennials, in particular, are more open to it. If the people around you that are outside of your relationship don’t understand it, the best thing that you can do is try to explain. If someone remains critical of you, set boundaries, and explain that you are happy in your relationship. If you’re happy, safe, and loved in your relationship, that’s all that anyone can really ask for in terms of romance. Remember that your opinion on your life matters more than anyone else’s and that it’s up to you to embrace what makes you happy.
Can You Cheat In Non-Monogamous Relationships
You can absolutely cheat in non-monogamous relationships. Being faithful may look different than a monogamous relationship, but it is still a vital part of a non-monogamous relationship. Remember, the person or people you’re with need to be in the loop and must feel loved and respected. Non-monogamous relationships do not mean that you can do whatever you want with anyone or that you can be unfaithful without consequences. They aren’t any less serious than monogamous relationships, nor are the terms that you and your partner agree on surrounding the topic of what is considered cheating. If you stray outside of the terms you and your partner or partners agreed on; you are cheating. For example, if you agreed that you would always tell your partner or partners when you sleep with someone else, but you go behind their back and sleep with someone else without telling them about it, that is cheating.
Who Is Ethical Non-Monogamy Right For?
Ethical non-monogamy is right for someone who desires it, has the communication skills to make it work, and feels free in letting go of things like jealousy. Should jealousy https://dictionary.apa.org/jealousy arise, it impedes monogamous and non-monogamous relationships. Often, part of what is so beautiful about non-monogamy is that it does release the jealousy component. If you identify more with monogamy and feel jealous if multiple people were involved in a relationship, non-monogamy of any kind likely isn’t right. Communication is the key in any relationship, but in ethically non-monogamous relationships, it is particularly critical. We can always improve our communication skills further, and we will never be perfect in that regard. Still, the more that you work on effective communication, the better your relationship will be. That’s true whether you’re in a monogamous or non-monogamous relationship. If you are having trouble communicating with your partner or putting it on the table, therapy can be a great place to get some support in guidance that’ll aid you in the process. Both polyamorous couples counseling and individual counseling can help you problem solve and develop new skills. Whether you see a counselor or therapist online or in person, counseling can help you thrive in your relationships.
How To Find A Non-Monogamous Relationship
If you’re single and are interested in a relationship of any kind, you’re probably on the dating scene. The key here is to be open about what you’re looking for from the beginning. Some people identify as “serial monogamists” and won’t be interested in the potential of a non-monogamous relationship of any kind. If you’re open about what you want, it’s far more possible to meet like-minded people and weed out those who don’t want the same thing. Alternatively, you could be in a relationship already, and non-monogamy might be something that you want to bring up to your partner. This is where open communication, again, is vital. Your partner should feel that they’re able to say no, and you should be able to state your thoughts as well. If you find out that you’re both interested in a non-monogamous partnership, that’s great! It’s time to work on the communication piece and state your personal needs as individuals.
Online counseling is an excellent place to work through any obstacles in your relationships. Whether you choose to see a mental health provider individually or with a partner, the online counselors at ReGain are here to help. Search the network of mental health professionals at ReGain and find the perfect fit today.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What is ethically non-monogamous?
Ethical non-monogamy is a type of relationship model where people have either multiple sexual partners or multiple relationships. Couples who practice ethical non-monogamy have their own sets of boundaries and their own communication methods to avoid being consensual or ethical.
What is the difference between polyamory and ethical non-monogamy?
Polyamory is a form of ethical non-monogamy. People who are ethically non-monogamous in this way are free to have multiple partnerships and sexual partners. Polyamorous relationships can work in different ways. Sometimes a couple will consider each other their “primary partner” and have other partners outside of that relationship. Other times, more than two people may date each other at the same time.
Ethical non-monogamy polyamory differs from open-relationships and polygamy. Romantic partnerships can be made, and sometimes the people involved create relationships with the same people. Open relationships may be more sexually-focused, with the partnership remaining a priority. A person may also consider themselves single and ethically non-monogamous.
It can be challenging to practice ethical non-monogamy. For a relationship to be considered ethically non-monogamous, all parties involved must be made aware of the situation, and it takes a lot of communication. Because it is a relationship model that falls outside of societal norms, there can be a lot of unfortunate stigma and lack of information around ethically non-monogamous relationships.
What is an ENM relationship?
Ethical non-monogamy is a practice and relationship model that can take on many different forms. People can be a part of ethically non-monogamous relationships for a variety of reasons. They may feel it’s more in line with how they enjoy connecting with people or that they will feel more fulfilled with multiple partners.
The key to ethical non-monogamy is that everyone involved is aware of the situation, and there is an open line of communication. Every form of ethical non-monogamy has this at the core.
Ethically non-monogamous relationships can be curated to meet the lifestyles of the people who are in them. People in consensually non-monogamous relationships should put a lot of emphasis on continuous communication and boundaries. One form of ethical nonmonogamy might work for some people but not for others.
An ethically non-monogamous relationship requires maturity, empathy, and honesty.
What does non-monogamy mean?
In ethically non-monogamous relationships, this isn’t the case. Ethical non-monogamy is the practice of consensually having multiple sexual or romantic partners.
What is a unicorn in a polyamorous relationship?
Can you cheat in a poly relationship?
Absolutely. Within ethically non-monogamous relationships, there are boundaries set forth by the people involved. These are agreed upon and discussed in advance so that there is no confusion. Every relationship may have different boundaries or levels of disclosure.
Someone breaking a boundary wouldn’t fall into any form of ethical non-monogamy. If a partner decides to do so, they are cheating. This is still a breach of trust.
How can I be okay with non-monogamy?
Ethical non-monogamy isn’t for everyone, and it’s important, to be honest with your feelings about it. An ethically non-monogamous marriage or relationship only work if everyone involved is feeling satisfied with it. Trying to hide your feelings to make others happy or not be open about how you’re struggling is detrimental to you and the relationships you may be forming.
If you’re interested in ethical non-monogamy, the most important thing is to research to understand how ethically non-monogamous relationships function fully. Many people struggle with challenging emotions when they first attempt having relationships in this way.
If you’re attempting to do it with a partner, therapy is a great resource to help you adjust.
What is toxic monogamy?
Toxic monogamy is defined as “monogamy as a cultural institution [that] has been interpreted and practiced in ways that are unhealthy.”
Our society has such a limited definition of what a healthy relationship looks like, and many people are now looking for alternatives. People are different and love in their own ways. There is such an unproductive stigma around less traditional relationship models. Hopefully, that can change in the future.
Can a one-sided open relationship work?
Couples may consider a one-sided open relationship if one partner isn’t interested in seeking other sexual or romantic relationships. This is a model that works for some people, but it cannot be easy. It’s important to ask yourself if you really want to be in this kind of relationship or if you’re trying to make your partner happy.
Ethical non-monogamy should not be used as a “last resort,” and no one should be pressured into it. The most important thing is that everyone involved is invested and willing. If you and your partner are considering this relationship model, consider seeing a therapist specializing in it. They will give you the tools and communication skills to help everyone involved feel respected and satisfied.
Can you be married and ethically non-monogamous?
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