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Exploring Ethical Non-Monogamy: Navigating the Landscape of Open Relationships

Have you ever wondered about what it would be like to have two girlfriends? Two boyfriends? Or a spouse and another partner? Have you ever looked at a person and thought, “wow, I want to be with them?” and it have no bearing whatsoever on how much you love your current partner?

Open relationships are becoming much more common in the public light. While they have been happening since the dawn of people, now they are becoming more socially acceptable. Two towns in Massachusetts (Cambridge and Somerville) have changed their laws and allowed multi-partnered people to have legal rights and status. Will Smith, his wife, Jada Pinkett-Smith, and their daughter Willow, have all expressed interest in consensually non-monogamous relationships.

While it may sound like a dream, doubling or tripling the attention, affection, sex, or stability of your relationship, it is also a lot of work. What is defined as “consensual non-monogamy”, or “ethical non-monogamy”, is a broad spectrum of ideas. Some may chose to be in a life-long, committed relationship with more than one person, that’s polyamory. (poly=many, amor=love) Others consider themselves Swingers. This typically means something more like swapping partners, or playing with other couples. And there is relationship anarchy, where a person believes that any and all relationships have no defined rules until they create them with a specific partner. There is the ever present broad category of open relationships. Open relationship can mean any of the above definitions, or something new. Its up to the practitioner to decide what it means to them.

Monogamy is the idea that two people chose to be with just that other person sexually and intimately emotionally with just that one other person. Many people are realizing that that doesn’t work for them, or it puts too much pressure on that one person to fill all of their needs. Ideally open relationships should enhance what you already have, and bring new fulfillment as well. If you think that maybe ethical non-monogamy could be for you, do some research, read some books, talk to others, or speak to a specialist therapist about how to thrive in an open relationship.


As written by:

     Ren Reed, LMFT, LPC

Have any thoughts, questions, suggestions, or comments on this article? Wondering how to this can be applied, modified, or adapted to your polyamorous, swinging, kink/ BDSM, or otherwise interesting relationship? Feel free to meet the team and reach out to us here