Very likely you are already some kind of non-monogamous, especially if you found yourself here. There are many flavors to choose from with varying degrees of types of intimacy.
Strictly speaking, monogamy is having only one romantic / sexual partner… ever. Think back to that experience for a moment, your first crush or date. That person… forever. That’s monogamy and cheers to those who found happiness there right out of the gate. Most of us date around, and to an extent, get around. If you space your partners out a bit you’re not strictly monogamous any longer, you’re a serial monogamist. Serial romanticists have experienced love for more than one partner, just not at the same time, and that’s ok. Something to consider the next time someone tells you, “Hey, I’m in an open relationship” before you say, “I just couldn’t do that.”
This is more like the serial monogamist that doesn’t space their partners out at all, and aren’t open about it. Clear, open, honest communication is the foundation for any healthy relationship and generally unethical non-monogamists are not encouraged by ethical non-monogamists. Aside from often being a hassle to engage in, poor integrity brings one’s other commitments into doubt. That being said, betrayal of trusts in relationships are often not just about the sex and is a symptom of some things to work on in the relationship. Monogamous Relationships can recover from fractures of trust and become stronger, it’s going to take some work from those involved and I highly suggest therapy…. but I would wouldn’t I.
Somehow, those I’ve known that were unethically non-monogamous felt in a position to criticize my practice of ethical non-monogamy… since it’s more common in our culture.
One of my friends in college was studying generational culture shifts in Korea, from the 1950s to early 2000s. An interesting finding, while outside sexual partners were never condoned, in older generations it was seen as more of an annoyance where in younger generations it created shattering, relationship changing (or ending) consequences. The next set or research proposed older generations were more secure that even in the presence of an outside sexual partner, the marriage simply was not going to end for any reason whereas younger generations with higher divorce rates considered it an attack on the stability of their relationship.
The type of ethical non-monogamy America has been conscious of the longest, swinging is about the sex, and little to nothing else. Often starting as dyads (aka couples), rules should discussed before hand and patience practiced. Some prefer no kissing on the lips, others no kissing at all. Often times it’s patriarchal, sometimes gender equitable, other times matriarchal. Meetings may happen at sex-on-premises clubs, off-premises clubs, home hosted key parties, or among a group of established acquaintances / friends. The most common aspect is emotional attachments beyond friendship is off limits. One can see the practice of hot wifing / husbanding / spousing and cuckold / cuckquean kinks displayed here as well.
A place Grey Aces might feel most at home, polyamory focuses more on relationships than just sex. Poly can involve sex, most practitioners prefer a meaningful date first. There are groups of 3, 4, or more; some are open to new partners and some are closed, fidelius with each other. In some relationships every partner is equal while others have a hierarchy. Solo polys may live alone and date non-exclusively. Each polycule (aka dating group) is a custom fit. Disclosure can range from in home corkboards that look like conspiracy theories with pins, pictures, strings, and dates strung out for all to see, be talked about over the kitchen table, or practiced as an open secret.
If ethical non-monogamy is a spectrum, most of fall in between the extremes of swinging and polyamory; not necessarily looking for love or life long relationships but not ruling out a fun time. Akin to serial monogamy for those who are open to more than one partner at a time, each relationship exists on it’s own, goes as far as members choose, and individuals may choose varying levels of commitment to practice. Most ethical non-monogamists fit into this category.
Mono – Poly
What happens if one partner is very much monogamous and the other partner isn’t as sure? Mono – Poly! No doubt, this arrangement takes a level of trust and commitment Zen masters would be envious of. Loving someone enough to “allow” them to explore their self can be daunting to engage in… but it is possible and can be done responsibly.
Whatever type of relationship one chooses be safe, have fun, and keep it a healthy one. If you or someone you know is struggling through their relationship dynamics, feel free to contact me below for a short, free consultation.