Relationships of All Shapes: 5 Ways to Practice Ethical Non-Monogamy

Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes

Do you believe humans should be monogamous?

For most people, there’s only one type of romantic relationship: monogamy. And, while having one partner for the rest of your life works for some, it’s not for everyone.

Fortunately, for those who can’t imagine tying themselves down to one partner, there are other options available.

If you think traditional monogamy isn’t right for you, but you aren’t sure what other options are out there, we’re here to help.

Here are five iterations of ethical non-monogamy you and your future partners can try.

1. Open Relationship

The standard “open relationship” is the most common form of ethical non-monogamy practiced today. And, odds are, you already know someone who was in or is in this type of relationship.

In an open relationship, a dedicated couple can date, have sex, and form romantic relationships with other partners.

Most couples in an open relationship ask their partner’s permission before starting a new relationship. This level of communication is essential in all forms of ethical non-monogamy.

2. Polyamory

This version of non-monogamy is the closest thing to traditional monogamy you can get with more than one partner. A polyamorous relationship consists of three or more people in a dedicated romantic relationship.

Just like with monogamy, you cannot pursue other new or potential partners, unless your current partners are also interested.

In some places, polyamorous partners can even get married.

3. “Swingers”

Say you want to maintain a romantic relationship with one specific partner, but you want to have the option of having sex with several other people. Then swinging is for you.

Swingers have been around for generations. And, for some couples, having the freedom to sleep around makes their central romantic relationship that much stronger.

The key to swinging, much like with an open relationship, is to get permission from your partner before pursuing a new sexual partner.

Unlike an open relationship, swinging is exclusively about sex. There’s no dating and no romantic relationships outside of that with your primary partner.

4. Relationship Anarchy

This form of non-monogamy is the hardest to define because it hinges on relationships being undefinable. When practicing relationship anarchy, there are no labels and no dedicated partners.

The line between friend, sexual partner, and romantic partner is in constant flux in relationship anarchy.

To practice romantic anarchy ethically, you need to make sure your partners understand your what it means. Doing this will help manage your partners’ expectations, so no one gets hurt.

5. Primary and Secondary Partners

Finally, this is one of the oldest forms of ethical non-monogamy in practice today. Primary and secondary relationships are a bit like a polyamorous relationship — but without the sharing.

In this version of non-monogamy, dedicated partners have other dedicated partners. These partners are separate from their primary significant other.

For example; say Person-A is in a dedicated romantic and sexual relationship with Person-B. Additionally, Person-A is also in a dedicated sexual and romantic relationship with Person-C But, Person-B and Person-C are not in a relationship with each other.

This form of ethical non-monogamy was popular back when people got married for political or financial reasons. Now, people practice primary, secondary, and even tertiary relationships for more romantic reasons.

If you have an interest in pursuing a non-monogamous relationship, you can compare the best potential partners here.

Practicing Ethical Non-Monogamy

The concept of a non-monogamous relationship may raise a few red flags. But, having more than one romantic or sexual partner does not always mean cheating.

The key to practicing ethical non-monogamy is to make sure to maintain open lines of communication with all your partners.

Are you looking for more relationship advice? We’ve got you covered.

Check out the rest of our blog for information on everything from starting an open relationship to breaking up with your current partner.

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