Ethical Non-Monogamous Relationship: Types, Reasons, Rules & more

Ethical Non-Monogamous Relationship – Causes, Types and Rules

A sexual or romantic relationship that is not exclusive for two people but is between more than two people is called a non-monogamous relationship. This can be a consensual or non-consensual relationship. While a non-consensual relationship is considered cheating, partners in a consensual relationship are open to each other regarding their wants and desires. They are also aware of their partner’s relationships with others.

What Is Ethical Non-Monogamy?

When two persons are involved in a romantic or sexual relationship with more than one person, with all the parties being aware of the situation and providing consent, it is labeled an ethical non-monogamous marriage or relationship. Swinging, open relationships, polyamory, or consensually non-monogamous relationships are all different types of ethical non-monogamous relations and settings.

The three basic rules that need to be followed in this relationship are consent, consideration, and communication. Non-monogamy cannot be termed as cheating as the person involved has the approval of their partner.

The psychotherapist suggests that many people take up this kind of relationship as a lifestyle choice, whereas many others feel it as an intrinsic part or orientation of their identity. Ethical non-monogamy is also considered a motivating tool for building and cultivating external relationships for personal reasons.

The representation of ethical non-monogamy may be in several ways. The setup may be followed by only one partner or both of them. Also, the relationship could be only sexual, romantic, or emotional, or maybe all of them.

There may be different kinds of behavior and habits with the relationship and partners involved. The only crucial thing in this kind of relationship is that all the people involved consent to the situation without guilt, deception, or coercion.

Types of Ethical Non-Monogamy

Ethical non-monogamy relationships are practised by following whatever the two parties agree on or without any set rules or relationship models. The partners involved usually set their own rules and follow what is individually acceptable to them instead of following some relationship model.

Some of the basic types of ethical non-monogamy out of the non-exhaustive list are mentioned below:

1. Polyamory

This is amongst the most popular type of ethical non-monogamy relationships. Within this set-up, there are also other situations which are followed by the persons involved, such as:

  • All the people involved are in a relationship together.
  • Two people committed to each other also have other personal partners.
  • One person out of two may have numerous other partners, while the other prefers to remain monogamous.

This relationship essentially involves reliable communication between the partners, especially regarding safe sex. It may involve long-term relationships and commitment to many other people and is often termed as Polycule, implying a polyamorous network.

2. Open Relationship

Under this kind of relationship, the primary partners do have the utmost priority to each other. But they may also be involved in a sexual or romantic relationship with other people. This setup is for sexual relationships only, but it may also have emotional and romantic connections involved.

3. Relationship Anarchy

The base of this relationship model is autonomy and personal freedom. Under this, there are no hierarchical terms or priorities. Partners usually follow the rules they agree upon instead of the conventional relationship. There is no more importance to a romantic relationship than friendship. Also, the relations are not categorized as sexual, romantic, or strictly platonic.

4. Monogamish

This kind of relationship generally follows monogamy. However, occasionally, they do have sexual relationships with people outside their primary relationship. Monogamish relationships are only for sexual relations. Though such relations go for a longer time, there is no romance or emotions involved in this setup.

5. Polygamy

This is one ethically non-monogamous marriage relationship that is practiced for the sake of religion or a biblical practice. The husband may have several wives, or a wife may have several husbands. Although this kind of relationship is not legal in the United States, many people practice this here.

6. Swinging

In this relationship, a couple has sex with other couples or may even swap partners for having a sexual relationship. There is nothing serious about this kind of set up and partners may change every time.

7. Cuckolding

In this setup, a third person is involved in having sex with the couple. The other person either watches their partner and the third person having sex or sometimes get involved themselves for a threesome. It is mainly practiced for fun and entertainment.

Why Do People Enter in Ethical Non-Monogamous Relationships?

With the knowledge about non-monogamous relationships, people often wonder about the reason behind practicing ethical non-monogamy after infidelity or after marriage, or after being in a committed relationship.

New studies state there may be several reasons for such relations, namely lifestyle approach, fun, entertainment, and adding spice to their sex life.

Some of the reasons are mentioned below:

1. Non Approval Of Monogamy

Many people believe that they are destined to have relationships with many other people. Also, it may be their nature not to stick to a single person. They may desire to explore relations with many people or have short relations with different people.

2. Pleasing The Partner

It is also observed that individuals also practice ethical non-monogamy to please their loved ones or fulfill their partner’s wishes. The partners may also get involved to add fun to their life.

3. Sexual Orientation

Some people also believe that practicing ethical non-monogamy improves their relationship with the partner they are committed to. It also states that as long as the person is faithful to their partner emotionally and romantically, there is no harm in having a non-monogamous relationship.

Also, the feeling of jealousy gets dissolved with the relations outside the primary relations. The reason may be that either of the partners cannot fulfill the desires of the other partner. Hence, the other partner steps out of their relation to satiate themselves.

4. Lifestyle Approach

For some, this kind of relationship is their lifestyle. They can’t remain committed to a single person for their whole life. They would like to explore relations romantically and sexually with many people before deciding on one.

Whatever may be the reason for falling in the ethical non-monogamy, the core concept remains that the person involved should agree to it. It should not be due to force, coercion, or manipulation.

Rules of Ethical Non-Monogamy

The first rule for ethical non-monogamy is that it should be practiced with the consent of each partner. There is no standard set rule for this practice. It depends upon the people involved in the way they wish to do it. Some of the rules are stated as follows:

1. Agreement Between Partners

The agreement implies that all the people involved are in consensus and on the same page to make this decision a collaborative one and not the one that is imposed on someone. Partners can decide the kind of relationship they prefer, such as sexual, romantic, short term, long term, casual, committed, or maybe a combination.

2. Honesty Is Vital

For a successful non-monogamous relationship, honesty, transparency, communication are some of the values crucial to be followed. People involved should be clear about their feelings, desires, and expectations and communicate and empathize with each other about their fears, insecurities, and biases.

3. Careful About Feelings

It is essential to respect, care, and empathize with the primary partners’ feelings and the other people involved. The wishes and desires of all the people involved should be considered and adhered to.

4. Primary Partner

Though in a non-monogamous relationship, an individual can still have a primary partner and prioritize the space, commitment, time, and other relevant things accordingly. This is also called a hierarchical relationship.

5. Non-Hierarchal Relationship

In this dynamic, all the people involved are equally important, and there is no priority or importance to a certain party.

6. Ups and Downs

Since even non-monogamy involves human connection, such relationships are also bound to have pain, joy, conflict, challenges, libido, excitement, doubt, fear, and many such emotions. These need to be realized and respected to keep the relationship going.

7. Jealousy

Though ethical non-monogamy is practiced with consent, one can also become jealous. The people involved can find out ways to resolve the same by communication, self-reflection, and honesty.

How to Know If Ethical Non-monogamy Is Right for You?

A person should be prepared for loving and having relations with more than one person. However, you should clear this out with your partner if you wish to have such a relationship or feel more secure and safe in monogamy. And on second thought, monogamy may be frustrating for some; they may also think that it is a sacrifice and feel jailed in that kind of situation.

Society at large is bound to judge you for having ethical non-monogamy. So you must be ready to face such challenges. All in all, dive into the splurge only when you are prepared and ready from all the points of view.

Difference Between Ethical Non-Monogamy and Polyamory

Polyamory is one of the types of ethical non-monogamy. It implies having several romantic relationships with different individuals. But this may not be the case in all kinds of non-monogamy relationships. For instance, couples follow swinging or casual sex, but that is limited to specific people only. So, in this case, it is ethical non-monogamy but not polyamory.

Difference Between Ethical Non-Monogamy and Open Relationship

Under open relationships, partners are willing towards romantic or sexual relationships with other individuals. But not all open relationships can be termed as ethically non-monogamous and vice versa. For instance, while in a threesome, people date each other but are not open to people other than their partners.

Ethical non-monogamous relationships can be indulged into for fun, liberating, or lifestyle choice. It can also turn into hard, stressful, complicated, and confusing if you fail to follow the rules. To practice this relationship, the partners must be honest, open, and communicate appropriately with each other. Otherwise, the ethical non-monogamous relationship turns into infidelity.

Also Read:

Signs of a Happy and Healthy Relationship
How to Deal With Sexual Performance Anxiety
How to Boost Your Sexual Confidence

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Ruchelle has a vast experience working with clients in hospitality, health and wellness, entertainment, real estate, and retail. She aims to utilise her learnings to deliver quality content which will in turn help drive sales and customer engagement.