Bloom Community Dictionary

glossary of sex-positive terms

What is ethical non-monogamy?

Ethical non-monogamy is an umbrella term used to describe a variety of relationship models that involve more than two people. It is an alternative to traditional monogamous relationships and includes various forms of ethical polyamory, swinging, and open relationships. While the specifics may vary between individuals and couples, there are some common characteristics that all types of ethical non-monogamy share.

More about ethical non-monogamy


At the core of ethical non-monogamy is the idea that consent is critical to any relationship dynamic. All participants in any type of ethical non-monogamous relationship must agree to the terms and be clear about their expectations and boundaries from the beginning. This ensures that everyone involved respects each other’s feelings, desires, and needs. Communication also plays a major role in successful non-monogamous relationships, as it allows partners to openly discuss feelings, issues, or potential changes in order to keep all participants happy and content with the arrangement.


In contrast to traditional monogamous relationships where sexual activity takes place exclusively between two people who have made a lifelong commitment or marriage vow, ethical non-monogamy embraces a wide range of possibilities depending on what works best for each individual or couple involved — including multiple sexual partners who may not necessarily be “in love” with one another but respect each other's wishes nonetheless. Additionally, while cheating can often damage marriages or committed partnerships due to deception or betrayal (even if both parties are aware), this isn't necessarily always true in an open relationship since all parties acknowledge their involvement with one another ahead of time - thereby avoiding hurtful surprises or misunderstandings down the line.


Overall then when it comes down to it ethical non-monogamy means different things for different people – but regardless involves communication among all parties as well as respecting each person’s individual needs when deciding on potential configurations for their particular situation/relationship model (e.g., whether they want multiple partners at once versus just one occasional partner). Ultimately such arrangements can help create deeper trust amongst all participants - which can result in fulfilling emotional connections outside traditional norms.

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