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Polyamory, Ethical Non-Monogamy and Opening up

Ethical Non monogamy
What is Monogamy?

In its most basic form when we say monogamy we are referring to having one sexual & romantic partner at a time (serial monogamy). Some religions and cultures endorse strict monogamy in which a person is expected to have only one sexual and romantic partner for life "'till death do us part". In the west the most common expectation is serial monogamy, and having any romantic or sexual contact with others is cheating and a form of betrayal.

Monogamy is a social, personal, economic and political choice. For some people it is also a part of their sexual orientation. Apart from the political, sociological and economic background to monogamy in the west we are also fed a steady diet of media that consistently affirms the idea that finding true value in life is based on finding your 'one true love'. While this may be a reality for some, it is certainly not the reality for everyone. Statistics tell us that at least 2% of children in marriages are the result of an affair, and more than 50% of married men have extra marital sex at some point in their marriage, and that women are almost as likely to cheat as men (but less likely to be found out). Due to the overwhelming desire that people experience to dalliance with others when in a committed relationship, some couples choose to employ ethical non-monogamy. 

 

What is Ethical Non-Monogamy (ENM)?

Ethical (or consensual) non monogamy (ENM) is when an individual or couple chooses to have romantic and/or sexual relationships or experiences with others, and to be open and honest about it with each person involved. This requires talking in depth about boundaries, sexual health, expectations, and how to minimize jealousy, hurt and conflict. 

Common forms of ENM can include:

  • Polyamory- having multiple romantic and sexual relationships

  • Hierarchical Polyamory- one romantic relationship (for example the existing marriage or partnership) takes priority over subsequent relationships.

  • Throuples/quads- Where three or four people are all in an equal romantic and sexual relationship with each other

  • Monogamish- the couple doesn't have romantic relationships or ongoing sexual relationships with others, but certain sexual activities are agreed on and permitted. For example, visiting sex workers, having a 'hall pass' when travelling or on work conferences, joining swingers clubs or sex clubs or kink /fetish exploration with others or allowing occasional hook ups as the couples deems necessary.​

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polyamory
open relationship
Why do people choose ENM if they love each other?

There are many reasons why people choose to employ ENM in their lives and relationships. 

Common reasons for choosing ENM can include:

  • Personal emancipation from political, social, religious and patriarchal ideology - the choice to let go of state and religious sanctioned forms of relationships that originate from economic ideas, religious ideology and paternity certainty. 

  • Increasing desire, interest and intimacy in a relationship (compersion)

  • A way of negotiating differences in sexual needs when there is a large discrepancy in sexual desire 

  • A way of providing for the needs of one or both parties when there is more than one sexual orientation (for example one or both is bisexual)

  • A way of continuing to explore your individual sexuality in a long term relationship

  • When a partner in committed relationship falls in love with another person but they are still in love with their partner or spouse

  • When one partner becomes unable or unwilling to have sex, but they do not want their partner to loose their sexual expression.

  • When there is a kink or fetish that your partner does not wish to participate in, and you both agree that you can explore this outside of the relationship.

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Assistance and resources on ENM and opening up a relationship

If you are in an existing marriage or long term relationship, opening up is a big change and I highly recommend you seek guidance from a relationship therapist who is informed and positive about ENM. You can contact me HERE to get in touch now.

Common reasons for choosing ENM can include:

  • Personal emancipation from political, social, religious and patriarchal ideology - the choice to let go of state and religious sanctioned forms of relationships that originate from economic ideas, religious ideology and paternity certainty. 

  • Increasing desire, interest and intimacy in a relationship (compersion)

  • A way of negotiating differences in sexual needs when there is a large discrepancy in sexual desire 

  • A way of providing for the needs of one or both parties when there is more than one sexual orientation (for example one or both is bisexual)

  • A way of continuing to explore your individual sexuality in a long term relationship

  • When a partner in committed relationship falls in love with another person but they are still in love with their partner or spouse

  • When one partner becomes unable or unwilling to have sex, but they do not want their partner to loose their sexual expression.

  • When there is a kink or fetish that your partner does not wish to participate in, and you both agree that you can explore this outside of the relationship.

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Non monogamy
Resources and Recommended Reading

Here are some links to books that I usually recommend...

Get support now

If you would like support or further information regarding ethical non monogamy contact us today.

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