What follows is a basic guide for how to practice ethical non-monogamy. I will be using lots of polyamory-related terms, though it’s worth noting that the poly lifestyle is but one subsection of a larger whole. You can be a swinger, a polygamist, really into group sex, and more.
As long as your sexual escapades are known about and signed off on by all of your partners, you’re engaging in ethical (or consensual) non-monogamy.
How to Practice Ethical Non-Monogamy
Decide What You Want
There are many types of ethical non-monogamy, from relationship anarchy to polyfidelity. Before you open things up to multiple partners, think about what you’re hoping to gain.
Are you looking to have a ton of sex, no strings attached? Do you want your existing partner right there with you, watching as you fuck other people, or are you more interested in a don’t-ask-don’t-tell kind of deal? Perhaps you don’t want sex at all, but a range of emotionally intimate yet platonic connections. There’s space for that in the polyverse too.
Do your homework to discover where you fit in.
Find Like-Minded People
When searching for prospective partners, be up front about your intentions. Indicate whether you’re starting out solo, or with an existing partner, and what kind of relationship dynamic you’re looking for.
If you’re using online dating sites for singles or couples, lay it all out there in your profile. Express your needs clearly—there’s no place for vagueness or ambiguity in the world of ethical non-monogamy. When searching through profiles, look for key words that suggest a similar relationship philosophy to yours.
If you prefer the in-person approach to dating, try a poly meetup or sex club.
Agree on The Rules
Once you’ve found your partner(s), sit down together and hammer out the details of your arrangement. Will you permit one another to have as many lovers as possible, or are there limits? Do you require full sexual transparency, or is it better to be discreet? What about date nights, schedules, and future decision making?
There are lots of things to consider before jumping in, so take your time and really think about what’s important to you and your partners when it comes to feeling safe and respected in love. It’s crucial that you figure out your relationship agreements ahead of time and that you honor them.
The utmost defining feature of ethical non-monogamy is honesty. There is no sneaking around. To achieve this, it’s important to keep the lines of communication open. Encourage everyone to speak their mind and to bring up any issues as they arise. Keep each other informed of new lovers, or desired changes to the routine. Talk about your feelings and how your current relationship model is working for you.
Ethical non-monogamy can be a dream come true, or an emotional nightmare depending on the day. Don’t be afraid to express any negative feelings that might arise, like jealousy. It happens, and doesn’t necessarily signal relationship failure.
Do you have any other tips for those wishing to open up their relationship in an ethical way? Leave us a comment!