Don't want to Cheat? You Have Options
- 02 Mar
Don't want to Cheat? You Have Options
Most people in modern society practice monogamous relationships, where two people acting as a couple engage in intimate emotional and sexual relations with just each other and no one else. Because we often don't realize there are other options, many consider the only alternatives to monogamy as cheating or being single. However there is another option that is rising in popularity: Open Relationships, or Consensual Non-Monogamy (“CNM” for short).
Unlike cheating, where both partners have NOT consented to having intimate emotional and sexual interactions outside the committed relationship (significantly increasing the risks of STD transference and relationship implosion), consensual (or ethical) non-monogamy involves partners that have both agreed to responsibly engage in intimate emotional or sexual encounters outside of a committed relationship – and within a certain set of communicated and agreed upon rules or expectations.
Before going on, it’s important to note that Consensual (or ethical) Non-Monogamy is subjectively not the same as NON-consensual non-monogamy, aka cheating. CNM is confusing to most “traditional” thinkers because it greatly varies in degrees of communication, sexual openness, significance of rules/structure, and emotional connection.
Believe or not, there are MANY different forms of CNM, but the goal of this article is to summarize the basic forms people are practicing today in hopes of clearing up misconceptions of these dynamic Open Relationship structures.
Swinging is an open relationship lifestyle option that allows for occasional sexual contact with others (usually another couple), but often with restraints on romantic attachments or seeing other partners separately. This differs from polyamory (see below).
Derived from the Greek word “Poly”, meaning “Many”, and the Latin word “Amory”, meaning “Love”, Polyamory is the practice, state or ability of having more than one loving and/or sexual relationship at the same time, with the full knowledge and consent of all partners involved. While their are often rules and structures within polyamory that are similar to the concept of swinging (multiple partners, threesomes, etc.), Poly relationships are generally understood to be more open to the possibility of emotional connection and romantic motivations.
The word Polygamy itself derives from a Greek word meaning “Often Married”, and describes a marriage that has more than two partners. Not to be confused with Polyamory (see above), Polygamy is usually associated with religious lifestyles (LDS, Islam, etc.) and allows for one partner (almost always the male) to be non-monogamous with any additional partners they choose to add to the relationship structure, but does not allow for their primary or additional partners to have any relations outside of them. Adding to the confusion, each configuration has its own name:
- Polygyny – Where a man will have multiple wives at the same time.
- Polyandry – Where a woman will have multiple husbands at the same time.
A term first coined by Dan Savage, "Monogamish" is a popular way of expressing the reality of being in a long-term relationship these days and the compromises we often find ourselves making to maintain them. Essentially, "Monogamish” is mostly monogamous, but with pre-negotiated exceptions made for occasional romantic/sexual play outside of the primary relationship. Monogamish couples are generally “sexually” polyamorous but mostly remain “emotionally” monogamous.
This relationship structure is not bound by rules and labels, aside from what the people involved mutually agree on. It’s a form of Polyamory, but distinguishes itself by eliminating formal distinctions between different types of sexual, romantic or platonic relationships. It heavily disregards hierarchy (primary partner, secondary partner, wife, husband, boyfriend, etc.) and allows for a more free form understanding between parties, absent labels. This relationship structure can be difficult even for experienced poly people, since hierarchy and structure are often the foundation of most polyamorous communities.
These are just a sample of the many Open Relationship structures that many people are exploring as an option to monogamy and the temptation to cheat. It's YOUR relationship, do it YOUR way.
Want to learn more? Book a FREE initial Session with our Open Life Coaches, who will be happy to share their Open Relationship experiences with you, and help you create your own!