I have created these posts for those that are trying to understand the very basic ideals for alternative lifestyles, that doesn’t make me an expert and it doesn’t make me the most knowledgeable about the topics. That does mean that I have a passion for these topics. They play a large part in my life and make me who I am so I have studied the topics and have lived them, good and bad. I was told by two people that my post missed the mark on non-monogamy for them, So let’s do it again because maybe I did miss something, so this time I will be thorough.
WHAT IS NON-MONOGAMY?
The foundation to any understanding of a subject is to learn what it means in a literal and educational sense before any personal takes are made wiki defines Non-monogamy as this: Non-monogamy (or nonmonogamy) is an umbrella term for every practice or philosophy of non-dyadic (pronounced Dye-Attic) intimate relationship that does not strictly follow to the standards of monogamy, particularly that of having only one person with whom to exchange sex, love, and/or affection. My favorite part of that is the “and/or” near the end. It offers the choice of one relationship type or all of them. Which will probably leaving you scratching your head, you have friends you are affectionate with, you have friends that you have or have had sex with, and you have friends you love (the type of love is yours to determine).
Does that make you non-monogamous? Not exactly. There are many types of love but I have always felt that the type that can be classified as a non-monogamous relationship is one that falls under romantic or sexual, that’s just about it. I put it that black and white because if you go beyond those two categories, you get into the aspects of friends and family. If that counts, every person in the world is non-monogamous then, right?
There are a ton of tests out there that can help you figure out if you are or might be non-monogamous. I mentioned BDSMtest.org in my last article (some of those questions help classify that as well as a BDSM profile if you have one), https://effyblue.com/test/ is another one, but the problem with a lot of these sites is that it really holds your hand to show you the non-monogamous choice. Do some research if you feel you could possibly be attracted to more than one person, I will have plenty of mentions of resources to check out through this article.
The part I said about being romantic or sexual sounded like an absolute, but that doesn’t always apply (see this stuff is complicated which is why I’m trying to guide you as best I can with a foundation). There are places where asexual and aromantic overlap. These are some of those terms, feel free to google them or if you’d like an article about these I’m happy to create one.
The grey area (no pun intended) of non-monogamy are often classified as such: (This isn’t all of them but it’s a start) Greysexual or romantic, Demisexual or romantic, Reciprosexual or romantic, Akiosexual or romantic, and finally Aceflux or Aroflux. Oh don’t forget the other term that’s possible, Queerplatonic, which is an LGBT+ term for a friendship but closer than the typical friendship. I told you this stuff is complicated but it’s also a way to learn more about exactly who you are.
Now that we’ve covered the folks that may not hit the marks of sex or romance, let’s really dive into the types of non-monogamous relationships and what they could mean.
The most common non-monogamous relationship type that you see is likely going to be Swingers. Swingers are usually a couple (whatever number you decide in your head a couple is) that has an almost strictly sexual relationship with other couples. The romantic aspect isn’t usually there, but it could be in some ways. It’s easier to define like this: I could have sex or see my partner have sex with another person as long as feelings aren’t involved and we’re justs having fun being the sexual beings that we are.
The next most common non-monogamous relationship type is Polyamory or Poly for short. Polyamory is where the emotional connection begins to pick up and develop relationships between more than two people. There are some shows, podcasts as well as tons of reading material that covers this topic into plenty more detail than a single blog post.
Another type of non-monogamy is Open Relationships. Open Relationship is the umbrella term for most people that aren’t in the non-monogamous lifestyle. To someone living in the standard monogamous relationships it appears to them like this: “Swingers? Oh you have an open relationship” “Polyamorous? Oh you have an open relationship”. Personally I feel more people classify themselves as open relationships if they have the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” style of polyamory or non-monogamy in general. There are 2342ih203hr4un5 more types of non-monogamous relationships from what I’ve learned online and through discussions (That’s an obvious exaggeration if you didn’t know). At some point I hope to cover each one in its own article.
CHEATER, CHEATER, PUMPKIN EATER
So now you understand that being non-monogamous is about being with more than one person. If this concept is somehow new to you, you’re probably thinking that it falls into the category of cheating. Nope. Not the few that were covered above. The difference? Those are what you classify as ethical non-monogamy. Cheating is 10000% unethical.
Every person has a definition of what cheating may be to them. Maybe you’re ok with flirting online, but not in real life. You could be so strict on the idea that you think watching porn is cheating. It’s not my place to judge because only you know what feels like betrayal from your partner(s). I have had this conversation with too many people when they discover that I’m Polyamorous. “You’re just cheating but getting away with it” “If you want someone else then why are you with your partner” “So you’re telling me if your partner was talking to another person, you wouldn’t be mad? Bullshit” Anyone that has been in a non-monogamous relationship more than 10 minutes has heard at least one of those statements. It gets really old, but you get great at responding to the questions. It’s like a test but you have the answer key.
MY PERSONAL EXPERIENCE
I have more personal experience with polyamory, I have dipped my toe in the swinging world and would do so again if my current partner was open to the idea and came to me about it. If it’s alright with you I’m going to let you know some things about me. If you don’t want to read it, skip ahead until you see PICK UP HERE in a line by itself. I didn’t learn about ethical non-monogamy until I was 25 years old. I’m 31 now. That doesn’t seem like a long time but I have crammed what feels like a lifetime of learning into those 6 years.
Essentially, I was always cheating on my partners, I hate that they had to go through any of that with me, as most of them were amazing women. With that said, I learned about ethical non-monogamy at a very dark place in my life, I had just been cheated on and I still didn’t want to lose her (She will be called Scooby if I refer to her).
I was hurt by the dishonesty and betrayal, not the fact that she had been exploring a relationship with another man. When I moved out, it was because we tried to open it up after some discussion and I attempted to place some strict rules on what we were going to do. We had already had a few fun times swinging with some friends, but this was different, we were going to strike out and develop relationships with different people.
In hindsight, we were doomed simply because we were trying to save our relationship by opening up. That is always a terrible idea. It will never work out and if it does, please share your story. So after I moved out on my own, I started to research some of the things I learned about non-monogamy and suddenly I had clarity on my entire dating life. I need more than one connection, physically and emotionally. It has no reflection of my partners or anything that they are doing. It never has been.
At some point, I moved back in with her to be friends and see if we could fix the damage (spoiler alert: we didn’t). We maintained the friends with benefits relationship for most of 2016 and part of 2017. In July 2016 I met a couple that I fell in love with, she captivated me from day one and he became my best friend. There was always tension between her and me from the moment we met, so we developed a relationship that had zero sex involved, it was about the time together and her husband was right with us.
At first it was unspoken about how things were, but it became obvious to everyone involved that we all were in love with each other, she and I were in a romantic love. He and I were in a platonic love. They are still a cornerstone of my life and just as much a part of my relationship with my partner today. If I refer to her she’ll be known as Little Girl, a cute nickname that just started one day by the way I asked a question.
It was Fall of 2016 and I had started to understand and enjoy a non-monogamous life. I had Scooby and Little Girl. they both knew the situation and were on board. I had also been having a casual fling with an ex of mine, BJ. So add her to the mix as well I suppose. I was learning how to be myself and be honest for what was the first time in my life. I began working a retail job in the fall and met a wonderful girl there at orientation (Darling), we had a few dates, she was poly and in a relationship.
It fizzled out before it could really get started but I’m not sharing that story, So by November, I was in what felt like 4 positive non-monogamous relationships. These relationships did start to deteriorate but that was on me. Little Girl moved back north due to some family stuff, BJ and I had fallen out, Darling had gone MIA after a really bad night with another couple, and Scooby and I eventually moved apart again.
Flash to 2018, I was moving out of Scooby’s place into a house with my Dad. When I was talking to the boss of my new job, I made eye contact and a smile with what might be the most beautiful person I’ve ever known. She was the server at the restaurant I was about to begin working at. I call her Princess to this day. So Princess and I became good friends and got to know each other at work, she was in an abusive relationship and We just happened to be looking for a roommate at the news house. Princess moved in and we ended up having a friends with benefits relationship for some time.
We had fallen for each other but she wasn’t ready to be with someone and I was enjoying being a single guy. This part gets a little complicated at first, Scooby and I had reconnected and Princess was cheering for us, they both knew the dynamic of the relationships and were ok with it. I ended up moving out of the house and back in with Scooby. While Scooby and I were trying to figure out what we were and how it was going to be, she ended up meeting a wonderful guy at a house party, I told her to pursue it and see where it went. We did much better this time at the polyamory thing. I could see how she felt about him and I was happy for her and could feel the strength in our own relationship grow more everyday.
It came to an end again when the new guy said he wanted to be in a relationship with her but he wasn’t on board with the polyamorous life. I didn’t want to hurt Scooby’s happiness and chance to grow in a much healthier relationship so I stepped away from it and moved back in with Princess and my dad. Princess has known that I’m non-monogamous from the first time we talked. She and I eventually stopped being dumb and talked about how we felt about each other and got into a committed relationship. We are still together and I still love her more every day.
I introduced Princess and Little Girl (Oh yeah she moved back down here with her husband), it was not my intention to blend the relationship I had now with the relationships I had before. I didn’t have any control over that, those two fell in love with each other and still love each other. Little Girl’s husband is still just as important to everyone as we are to him.
The pandemic has stopped any new relationships from forming, but that could change at any moment if the right person comes along for either of us. Now you have the crazy and condensed history of my poly life. There is much more to that but I wanted to give you the run down so you could learn about me.
PICK UP HERE
TYPES OF POLYAMORY BUT NOT ALL OF THEM
Now that we’ve diverted for a minute let’s cover some of the Polyamory Dynamics that exist. This is not even close to the full list or even a piece of the list. It’s just a good place to start. My favorite style is “Kitchen Table Polyamory”. The fastest way to explain it: All partners involved could sit at the kitchen table together and discuss things. That doesn’t mean that everyone gets along great or shares every detail, it just means that you can all co-exist together and there aren’t many issues with each other.
Another type is parallel polyamory, This style has a range of meanings and structures. Parallel isn’t a literal definition. A V-style structure (One person has a relationship with 2 people that aren’t involved with each other), they may be kitchen table or they may be parallel. If they are parallel, the two relationships that branch from the hinge (the person that is dating the two partners) may not communicate but are aware of the relationship structure. That’s parallel.
WHEN IN DOUBT, COMMUNICATE
The amount of communication in the polyamorous relationship can vary as well in parallel poly. The metamours (your partner’s partner) could be friends and talk from time to time or you could be on the other end of the spectrum and have a Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) relationship with your partners. DADT works for some people, it means that you don’t discuss the things that happen in your other relationships. It doesn’t mean that your partner doesn’t know there is a relationship because that would be unethical. In my personal opinion, DADT style poly is probably the quickest to collapse on itself. I think that because to me communication and honesty are the keys to making non-monogamous relationships work.
Trust, Honesty, and Communication are the absolute building blocks of every relationship, not just non-monogamous ones. If you’re on my page for the kink side of things, those three are just as important in your lives as well. Without them, no relationship can succeed.
COMING UP NEXT
I’ve already covered a lot of subject matter, but, there is far more to come. The next non-monogamy article is going to cover the Terrific Three (Trust, Honesty, Communication) as well as Jealousy and Compersion.
If you’re wanting to do more research on mon-monogamy and understanding more about it, check out the normalizing non-monogamy podcast (normalizingnonmonogamy.com) Finn and Emma are two of my favorite podcasters. There are a ton of resources in the show notes of the first episode of Kinkslayer (anchor.fm/kinkslayer). If you want to reach out to me directly you can do so with linktr.ee/mr.kinkslayer