For most of human history, monogamy has been the traditional form of relationships. Until recently, most relationships consisted of a heterosexual couple, with neither taking on any other partners.
However, recent decades have allowed more inclusivity and diversity in relationships. Not only can couples consist of all genders, but often relationships are not just restricted to two people.
In recent years, more people have explored polyamory, meaning they prefer to have multiple sexual partners instead of only committing to one. This is also known as ethical non-monogamy, as all partners consent to this lifestyle. In other words, no one is “cheating” on anyone, and everyone is okay with the inclusion of multiple partners.
Since this lifestyle has only exploded in popularity recently, you may not know much about it and have many questions. Here is a basic introduction to ethical non-monogamy.
What Is Ethical Non-Monogamy?
Non-monogamy is the lifestyle of having multiple partners. This can be nonconsensual or consensual and ethical. Nonconsensual monogamy is more commonly known as cheating. Ethical non-monogamy means that everyone involved is okay with their partners dating others.
Non-monogamy takes many forms. One of the forms that people may be most acquainted with is swinging, which is when couples switch each other’s partners. While this is the form most often portrayed in movies and television, there are many other types of nonmonogamy that are more commonly practiced today.
For example, some couples have open relationships where they are committed to each other but still have other partners on the side. Still, some polyamorous folks don’t commit to one single person but enjoy relationships with a handful of people at a time. The exact type of ethical non-monogamy depends on the person or couple in question and what their needs are.
Common Misconceptions Of Ethical Non-Monogamy
With few people understanding what non-monogamy is, there are bound to be quite a few misconceptions. Below are three common myths and misconceptions that polyamorous people encounter frequently.
Ethical Non-Monogamy Is The Same As Cheating
Though both polyamory and cheating are forms of non-monogamy, they are not exactly the same thing. With cheating, one partner doesn’t know that the other has other partners. Therefore, it is often an act of betrayal and, when found out, destroys the trust of the other partner and the bond they once shared.
With ethical non-monogamy, everyone understands that other partners will be involved. Even if one of the partners does not pursue anyone else, they consent to their partners dating others. There is no lying or going behind other people’s backs. Everyone is in full understanding of what the relationship is and consents to it.
Polyamorous People Will Sleep With Anyone
Ethical non-monogamy does not have any clear rules, so how many partners one has will differ from person to person. Some people enjoy polyamory for casual sex with strangers, while others form relationships and deep connections with just a handful of partners. Therefore, being non-monogamous is not the same as just sleeping with anyone who is interested. Many polyamorous people are deeply committed to their partners; they just happen to have more than one person they love.
Ethical Non-Monogamy Means That You Don’t Love Your Partner(s)
This primarily comes up when monogamous folks encounter open relationships. Many marriages and committed relationships that started off as monogamous are transitioning into ethical non-monogamy. Some people who do not understand this transition may believe that the couple no longer loves each other and so they are finding love with other partners.
However, this is not true. Sometimes, the decision to open up a relationship comes from a deep sense of love. Some people struggle to receive the intimacy they need from just one person, and many couples realize their relationship would improve with additional partners. If polyamorous folks do not love each other anymore, they end the relationship. They don’t use cheating as a way to find love. [READ: How To Avoid X-Tra Marital Affairs]
Is It Right For You?
If the idea of having multiple partners sounds appealing, then ethical non-monogamy may be right for you. If you are single, then you can start at any time. Many dating apps even include filters and options to help you find others who are also interested in ethical non-monogamy. Just make sure anyone you date understands what you are looking for and that you will also pursue other partners.
However, if you are already in a relationship, you need to discuss this transition with your partner. Just because it may be right for you doesn’t mean that they will want to join in. In some cases, your partner may be interested in creating an open relationship as well, sometimes not. But the point of ethical non-monogamy is that it is ethical. Don’t go behind your partner’s back or do anything that will be viewed as a betrayal.
Marie Miguel Biography
Marie Miguel has been a writing and research expert for nearly a decade, covering a variety of health- related topics. Currently, she is contributing to the expansion and growth of a free online mental health resource with BetterHelp.com. With an interest and dedication to addressing stigmas associated with mental health, she continues to specifically target subjects related to anxiety and depression.