These Relationships Prove Monogamy Is Just One Option

Some people just aren’t made for monogamous relationships. If you fall into this category, it’s time to start doing your research on the plethora of relationships out there. Non-monogamy stretches far beyond what you may typically assume is an otherwise alternative lifestyle. For those of you looking to push the boundaries of the status quo, here are different types of non-monogamous relationships to consider.

1. Open relationships

Young couples on a hayride

Would you let your partner have sex with someone else and not be upset? | iStock.com/Brian McEntire

The idea of an open relationship is often used as an umbrella term for a variety of relationship subsets. As described in Psychology Today, open relationships involve committed partners deciding to have intimate partners with other individuals. According to The New York Times, this type of consensual non-monogamy differs from polygamy in that the latter describes having more than one spouse. It also differs from maintaining secret relationships hidden from a person’s significant other, as that’s just cheating. Open relationships, on the other hand, can take a wide variety of forms, structures, and connections.

2. Swinging

couple kissing and touching in bed

Swingers engage in sex with other people with no strings attached. | iStock.com/Ondine32

If we’re being honest, swinging is probably considered the most promiscuous of all non-monogamous relationship types. But there’s more to it than you think. Swinging typically involves couples engaging in intercourse with other couples or singles. While some are in committed relationships with just one person, the main qualifier for swingers is their involvement is specifically for sexual purposes, and nothing more (i.e. no emotional connection outside their relationship).

Furthermore, The Huffington Post sheds light on the practice and its resurgence in recent years. Although formerly reserved for behind closed doors, swinging is no longer as taboo as it was when it first began popping up. The fad hit the U.S. in the 1950s when Air Force officers swapped wives. Today, though, Sandra LaMorgese PhD says all that’s changing.

Nowadays, adults are marrying later, which means they’re more likely to bring their alternative dating habits into their marriage. And every type of person is fair game when it comes to swinging. After all, these days there are dedicated websites, famous lifestyle resorts like Jamaica’s famous Hedonism, and well-publicized swingers parties that just may be happening right around the corner from your house.

3. Polyamory

Couple man and woman lay cuddling on the bed

Polyamory involves more than two people. | iStock.com/Kuzmichstudio

The term quite literally means loving many, so it’s no surprise those who practice polyamory are in love or romantically involved with more than one person at the same time. According to Newsweek, the few people who’ve studied polyamorous families in the U.S. estimate there are more than half a million, with a presence in nearly every major city.

The configuration can be any number of possibilities: two men, one woman; two men, two women; three women, one man. The difference between polyamory and polygamy is the latter is a form of marriage consisting of more than two people and is typically rooted in religious or societal norms (often when multiple women are exclusively sexual with one man). In polyamory, though, everyone is equal, and there is no standard configuration.

4. Polyfidelity

love hearts with pen, a copy and a wallet

Polyfidelity requires committment of all partners involved. | iStock.com

As you’d likely conclude, polyfidelity is a form of polyamory, but with a stern degree of faithfulness attached. There is sexual exclusivity within the relationship system. While polyamory can allow for intimacy with others outside the core relationship system, polyfidelity does not. In her piece on LoveLiveGrow, Issa Waters describes a polyfidelitous relationship as containing more than two people, but like monogamy, the members don’t have sex with anyone but each other. This, of course, is an important distinction between polyfidelity and other types of open relationships.

5. Monogamish

Close up shot of senior couple holding hands

Monogamish ways may be the secret to marital bliss. | iStock.com/Jacob Ammentorp Lund

Coined by popular author and sex expert Dan Savage, monogamish offers a newer, more liberal understanding of the typical monogamous relationship. As Savage describes, a strict label of monogamy only restricts some couples from doing what they actually need, want, or desire in order to make their relationship truly work.

As Savage discusses, our society is used to only hearing about relationships that have failed due to cheating or infidelity. On the flip side, though, many couples whose relationships are thriving may be doing so because of their openness to monogamish ways, but the likelihood of actually hearing about this isn’t necessarily a reality. At least not yet.

In a monogamish relationship, the couple decides on the terms. They remain committed to one another, but may decide to have a threesome, have only a one night stand their partner is fully aware of, or anything they choose that would be beneficial to their relationship. Ever heard of a hall pass? It’s kind of like that.

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