What Is Ethical Non-Monogamy And What Does It Mean In Relationships?


There are many ways to have a relationship and typically, most people consider monogamy to be the standard in long-term relationships. Two people agree that they want to date, live together, or even get married and not have romantic or sexual connections with other people.

However, ethical non-monogamy (also called ENM) is a practice being embraced by more couples.

Ethical non-monogamous relationships embrace the idea that they do not own or have a right to decide who their partner cares for, loves, or even just has sex with. People who are ENM choose their own rules and look for others who are comfortable with those rules.

There are many different ways that couples (or individuals!) might live an ethically non-monogamous lifestyle.

Honesty In Your Relationship Is Critical

Some think that living a lifestyle like this is just an excuse to cheat. However, can it be cheating if everyone knows what is going on and agrees to it?

One of the most important concepts of ethical non-monogamy is honesty. People in relationships need to be honest with each other. Even before beginning to practice such a lifestyle, the couple involved needs to have some deep and honest conversations with each other.

Couples will often talk about how they feel about their partner having sex with someone else. They may also need to consider how they might feel if their partner loves someone else. How will that impact their life? What if one of them finds someone else they want to spend time with but the other does not?

There are many questions that come up. The couple needs to spend time talking about those questions.

Honesty Outside Your Relationship Is Also Important

The other area where they need to practice honesty is when they are seeing people outside of their relationship. People you are interested in dating outside your relationships have the right to know what they are getting into.

If you and your partner have agreed that you want to be ethically non-monogamous and you meet someone else you’d like to get involved in, you need to make sure they understand. That means you have to have some honest conversations with them even before you start dating.

If they haven’t come in contact with anyone who is ENM, you may have to explain what it means. Then you’ll have to explain what that means to you and your partner.

Make sure anyone you talk to and are thinking about dating knows what they are getting into if they want to start a relationship with you. Otherwise, there are bound to be hurt feelings and misunderstandings.

It’s also important to make sure that anyone you might date knows that you aren’t looking for a relationship with a single person. They might think that if they are patient and wait long enough, you will leave your current partner for them.

Be Safe

If you are having sexual relationships with more than one partner, keeping all of your partners safe from sexually transmitted diseases and infections is the responsibility of everyone involved. Condoms will be a big part of your relationships.

Some partners choose to be fluid bonded. This means that they only have condomless sex with each other. This can work, but only if the people involved are honest and open.

Partners who are fluid-bonded should already have a large amount of trust. They should know that if someone slips and forgets to use a condom, they will tell the other person about it.

Before becoming fluid bonded, partners should go through a period of using condoms and not having sex with anyone else while they get several rounds of STD tests done. This will ensure that neither of them has any STDs going into the relationship.

There are Bound To Be Adjustments

Being non-monogamous isn’t going to come naturally to most people. No matter how much talking you do beforehand, as you move forward, there will be concerns. One or both of you might experience the unexpected.

Emotions are bound to be different than what you thought they might be. After all, our society has trained us to believe that monogamy is the only way to have a relationship. When you try to do something differently than you’ve been raised to do things, it can be confusing.

However, if this is what you and your partner really want for your relationship, don’t give up. Keep talking and working through it. A life of “more love” can be very rewarding!

Written by Autumn Seave

Email: inkyblueallusions@shaw.ca