What is ethical non-monogamy?

Non-monogamy is a blanket term used to describe relationships that involve more than two people. Polyamory, relationship anarchy and open relationships are all examples of non-monogamy, where people have, or have the desire for more than one sexual or romantic partner.

Ethical non-monogamy means that everyone involved consents to the relationship. 

 

What kinds of ethical non-monogamy are there?

There are limitless ways of exploring ethical non-monogamy - if you can dream it, you can do it. As such, everyone will have their own idea of non-monogamy, and will likely have their own definitions for these terms. There is no wrong or right when it comes to ethical non-monogamy - just whatever works for you, and your relationships. However, these terms can provide you with a good starting point to help you start thinking about non-monogamy, and what you might be interested in.

Polyamory

where people may have, or have the desire for multiple sexual and/or romantic partners

Open relationships

where people have, or have the desire for multiple sexual partners

Triads

where three people are in a relationship. A closed triad means that they don't have other romantic or sexual relationships outside the triad, where as an open triad means they do 

Polyfidelity

where a group of people have multiple sexual or romantic partners, but do not have sexual or romantic relationships outside of this

BDSM non-monogamy

where people may have, or have the desire for multiple play partners when exploring kinks or fetishes

Relationship Anarchy (RA)

A way of practicing polyamory. RA is the radical dismantling of power and privilege within all relationships, rejecting all hierarchies in all social relationships, including romantic, sexual and platonic relationships, usually not categorising partners as distinct from friends

Hierarchical non-monogamy

A way of practicing non-monogamy. This model distinguishes different relationships (sometimes using words like 'primary' or 'secondary') to describe the current level of attachment and engagement with each partner

 

Getting started with ethical non-monogamy

Starting to think about non-monogamy can be difficult and confusing - whether you’re single, or already in a monogamous relationship. If you’re feeling a little at sea, check out the following pages; these are great introductions to all things non-monogamy.

Myth-busting non-monogamy

Obviously, there’s a wide spectrum of relationship models, and there is no right or wrong - just the one that works best for you. Nevertheless, there's a lot of myths about non-monogamy - so let’s tackle them head on.

Challenging the idea of ‘The One’

Our society points us towards monogamy in many overt, and many more subtle ways. Whether it’s on television, advertisements on the side of buses, or government policy, we’re taught how a relationship is meant to look.

Isn’t this just cheating? Consensual and non-consensual non-monogamy

There is a huge difference between consensual and non-consensual polyamory. Around 50% of the population have engaged in non-consensual non-monogamy at one time or another. We call this cheating.

Let’s talk about jealousy

So, once you’ve decided what we want our relationship to look like, it’s plain sailing from here on in right? Well, not exactly - as if you do think non-monogamy could suit you, you should probably have a think about jealousy.

This seems like way too much effort - is it even worth it?

Non-monogamy does involve a lot of hard work from everyone involved - but luckily, the pay-off can be pretty great. Having your cake and eating it is a popular expression when it comes to non-monogamy, in part because it’s absolutely true!

Where do we go from here?

If you’re excited by the thought of multiple sexual partners, exploring multiple romantic relationships or even just getting your kink on with a few different people, these are good indications that non-monogamy could work for you.

 

Resources

It should be noted that the most popular texts, television shows and films on the subject of non-monogamy are often focused on cisgender, white and heterosexual people. These narratives often emphasise couples opening up their relationships. 

Non-monogamy Newcastle recognises that the non-monogamous community is diverse in race, gender and sexuality. As such, we do not promote material that seeks to alienate or sideline members of our community. 

Books


If you’re a bookworm, our pick of the bunch is The Ethical Slut, which is now in it’s third edition. The book is trans inclusive, it’s easy and enjoyable read, and provides a thorough exploration of polyamory as well as other relationship models. 

Apps


For dating, we’d recommend OkCupid, which allows you to add non-monogamy as a tag to your bio. Plenty of Fish also accommodates non-monogamous relationships, as does Her. 

 

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