Updating your relationship status? Let’s talk options.

Updating your relationship status? Let's talk options.

What is your relationship status?

What is an open relationship?

Can I date more than one person?

How many styles of relationships are out there?

What is Monogamy?

For a lot of people when they think of a relationship, they think of two people who form an exclusive relationship. This default paired relationship is reflected in our laws, ideas of marriage, and commitment. And for a long time, it has been portrayed as the only way to have a loving and fulfilling romantic connection with another person. For a lot of people, this monogamous relationship style works great, but people are unique and that means that some desire a different relationship approach.

What is Ethical Non-Monogamy?

Ethical Non-Monogamy or ENM for short is a big umbrella term for all those relationships that can’t or won’t be defined as monogamous. We’re talking about open relationships, polyamorous relationships, casual dating, and many more!
The most important word in ENM is ethical, it isn’t an excuse to be unfaithful to a partner and do whatever you want. An ENM relationship is one where everyone involved is on board, in the know about what’s going on and wants to be there. Alongside these ethics, an ENM relationship can take many different shapes, with varying amounts of partners and commitment involved. 

Key to Monogamous and ENM relationships.

Communication is key to help any relationship style flourish, it’s important to be open about your boundaries and communicate what love means to you. People will have different needs and ideas about what it means to be romantic/sexual/exclusive/committed and that’s okay. By being open about what you need and what you can give to other people, you’ll be in a much better place to form those meaningful relationships, no matter what form it takes.

Jealousy is a hurdle in both Monogamous and ENM relationships and is an indicator that somewhere along the line a need isn’t being met. This doesn’t signal the end of the relationship or mean you’re a bad person, it’s what you do with those jealous feelings that is the deciding factor. When jealous feelings arise, take it as an opportunity to communicate and check-in with each other. Often repairing this rupture through coming together and communicating, makes the relationship stronger afterward.

A brief relationship dictionary

In the wild and dynamic world of defining relationships, there are a lot of different terms that you might hear and want to be familiar with. So here is a small list with some general definitions that cover the basic idea of the terms (they might mean different things to different people, so it’s always best to ask the person you’re involved with specifically). 

Monogamy:
A committed relationship between two people only. This can be sexual or emotional, often it is both.

Ethical Non-Monogamy (ENM):
ENM is an umbrella term that covers all forms of consensual non-monogamy.

Exclusivity:
An agreement between people to limit certain interactions to the relationship only. What form this takes varies on the relationship.

Friends with benefits:
A friendship that involves sexual interactions, without a romantic component or commitment.

Casual Sex:
Consensual sex outside of a committed relationship, usually without any strings of attachment or expectation of commitment or exclusivity.

Casual dating:
A physical and/or emotional relationship between people, who go on dates without necessarily demanding or expecting the extra commitments of a more serious romantic relationship. Can be non-monogamous with multiple dating partners at once.

Open Relationship:
A committed relationship where both partners agree that each may seek physical and/or sexual relationships with others.

Poly/Polyamory/Polyamourous:
A style of relationship where people have multiple intimate committed relationships, these can be sexual and romantic to varying degrees.

Metamour:
The name for your Partner’s partner – for example, your wife’s girlfriend who’s not romantically or sexually involved with you.

Polycule:
A Polycule is a connected web or network of people in non-monogamous relationships.

Polygamy:
The practice of marrying multiple spouses, historically this most often occured with one man and multiple wives. This is very different from Polyamory, though the terms are often confused as synonymous.

Polyfidelity:
A form of non-monogamy where members are considered equal partners and agree to restrict sexual or romantic activity only to other members of the group.

Relationship Hierarchy:
A form of non-monogamy where there is a primary or core relationship, with secondary/tertiary, etc… satellite relationships that link into the core members. The idea being that the primary relationship comes first and is most important.

Non-hierarchical Polyamory:
Partners are not ranked, regardless of the length of relationships or living arrangements, and everyone has an equal voice.

Kitchen table Polyamory:
Places emphasis on family-style connections among the people involved in a Polycule, whether they’re romantically involved with each other or not. The name comes from the idea that everyone involved would be comfortable gathering around the kitchen table for a meal.

Swinger/Swinging:
People in a committed relationship that might otherwise be monogamous, who enjoy sexual experiences with other coupled individuals.

Triad/Throuple:
Is a relationship between three people.

The relationship takeaways

Relationships are connections between people, and when people are as unique and varied as we are, that means there are endless possibilities for how we can connect to each other. There is no right or wrong shape, just different options to fit the people involved best. These relationships can change over time, shifting to meet people’s needs as we grow and that’s okay too. So take a moment to think about what you need and what you want from your relationships with others, you might be surprised.