Ethical non-monogamy vs. Polyamory.
Polyamory is one form of practicing ethical non-monogamy, which is an umbrella term that encompasses many other types of relationships. Swinging, casual sex, open relationships, and polyamory are all forms of ethical non-monogamy, and there are many others. Polyamory refers to having multiple romantic partners at once, which not all ethically non-monogamous people do. For example, a couple might occasionally have sex with other couples (aka swinging), but they don't date people other than each other. That's a form of ethical non-monogamy, but it's not necessarily polyamory.
Ethical non-monogamy vs. Open relationship.
Open relationships are another form of practicing ethical non-monogamy, with ethical non-monogamy being the umbrella term. Open relationships refer to relationships where partners are open to sexual or romantic relationships with other people. Not all ethically non-monogamous relationships are open relationships. For example, three people might be dating one another and no one else, and they may not be open to any other relationships. This is a form of ethical non-monogamy, but it's not an open relationship.
Types of ethically non-monogamous relationships.
Here's a non-exhaustive list of some different forms of ethical non-monogamy:
- Polyamory: An approach to relationships wherein people can have multiple romantic or sexual relationships at the same time.
- Threesomes: A couple brings in a third person to have sex with them, whether for a one-night-stand or regularly.
- Swinging: When a couple has sex with another couple and/or "swaps partners."
- Cuckolding: When a couple brings in a third party to have sex with one of the partners, often with the other partner watching.
- Hierarchical relationships: A relationship where there's a set of "primary partners," usually a couple, who prioritize each other while also having "secondary" partners.
- Polyfidelity: A relationship between a group of people where all members are equal partners in the relationship, and no one has sex with or dates people outside the group. Triads (groups of three), quads (groups of four), and vees (a three-person relationship where one person is dating two people, but those two people are not dating each other) can be forms of polyfidelity.
- Relationship anarchy: An approach to relationships, usually non-hierarchal, where there are no set rules or expectations other than the ones that involved partners agree upon.
- Open relationships: When a couple or set of partners are currently open to new romantic or sexual partners.
- Casual dating or casual sex: When people casually date and have sex with multiple people, with everyone knowing that it's happening.
- Monogamish: A couple that's mostly monogamous but might occasionally have sex with other people in certain situations.
The Bottom Line.
Ethical non-monogamy (ENM) is a broad term that encompasses any form of relationship (romantic or sexual) that doesn't take the form of an exclusive, monogamous relationship between two people. It can be liberating, fun, a lifestyle choice, or simply just the way you are. It can also be confusing, complicated, stressful, and hard. (Just like any other kind of relationship!)
Most people attending a swingers club would be deemed ENM.
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FACTOID: The highly moralistic society of Inis Beag, off the coast of Ireland, is so sexually repressive that the sexes are segregated both before and after marriage. Premarital sex and the discussion of sexual topics is taboo. Basic sexual physiology and female orgasm are virtually unknown, and sex is furtively performed for the sole purpose of procreation. It is thought that the male sex drive is a result of eating too many potatoes, a dietary staple of the island.
SOURCE ATTRIBUTION NOTICE: The greater part of this post and the previous post – both on ethical non-monogamy – must be properly attributed to Kelly Gonsalves who writes under the internet banner of mbgrelationships for the website: www.mindbodygreen.com