5 (Popular) Forms of Non-Monogamy

by C Freelove about a year ago in dating

Relationship Status: It's complicated.

5 (Popular) Forms of Non-Monogamy

It seems nowadays everything is a trend. Perhaps it's another symptom of living in the technology age. Maybe it's caused by the whole world breaking free of the current paradigm. Whatever it is, we (as a people) are generally free to explore and live our best lives, and we've included love.

The number of openly non monogamous people, whether famous or regular Joe types, has increased exponentially lately, as social constructs bend with the times. However, like with most things that have become increasingly popular in the Instagram era, there's nothing new about Non Monogamy. Humans have been exploring the spectrum of love and relating since the dawn of humankind.

Today we'll discuss a few of the more popular categories that live within the expansive umbrella of non-monogamy.


Good ole' fashioned two timin', lyin', slidin', and hidin'. Moral standards aside, cheating is probably one of the most popular (infamous) ways to engage in non monogamy. There are dozens of arguments on both sides about what cheating is or isn't, which includes but is not limited to physical and emotional cheating. For black and white purposes, and so cheaters can't dance around the subject, cheating here means anything you wouldn't do in the presence of, or without permission from, a romantic partner. I personally feel, in a mono-centric society, cheating culture abounds. Just listen to any number of popular songs that discuss the topic, either from a victim standpoint or from the end of the sometimes proud cheaters themselves. Or watch any scandalous TV show centered on infidelity.

Ménage a Trois

Technically, this French term can be used to describe what many in the polyamory world call a "triad" which extends beyond sexual contact, but for black and white purposes, and due to Hollywood sensationalism, here it means one or many sexual encounters in which a married or otherwise coupled pair introduce a third party. A threesome may or may not evolve into further inclusion outside of the boudoir.

Swinging (Partner Swap)

Although many consider swinging a form of open relating, I have given it its due recognition here, solely because it is considered a recreational activity by many in the non monogamous community. This activity is usually couple-centric, and has its own sub categories such as "friends first" which some consider a higher rung than casual sex with strangers. What sets apart swinging from other forms of non monogamy is its history of being mostly limited to physical connections.

Open Relationships (Mono-flexibility)

I will probably add another story about this topic alone. It is its own umbrella, with many complicated nooks and crannies to explore, but for black and white purposes here, it means relationships in which partners have agreed to allow connections that fall outside of the relationship agreement. This may be limited to emotional, physical, or any other number of "rules" or guidelines that the couple agrees upon. Open relationships often include swinging and ménage a trois, but also extends to one or both parties connecting to other people independently of one another. Some forms that fall under this umbrella are "Don't Ask Don't Tell" (DADT) relationships, in which extra marital behaviors are kept to oneself. I spent most of my adult life in "Don't tell unless asked" type relationships, which for me, as a sharer, was equivalent to cheating for me.


This word is comprised of two words: "Poly," meaning many, and "Amory," meaning loves or the ability to love. While there is a great debate about what is and isn't polyamory, for our purposes here, I say polyamory is the ability to connect romantically, not just physically, to multiple people, with the knowledge and consent of all parties. This is where the Non-Monogamy road forks into "Ethical" and "Everything Else." The main staples of this love style are "Desire and Consent" of all partners. You may be wired to be polyamorous, but if you're still hiding things, or your partner said "No," you're probably cheating. Simple like that. There are definitely many facets to this gem, and it deserves its own breakdown, which we will discuss here later. Some Polyam lovestyles are: Parallel, in which partners do not engage with each other; and Kitchen Table, in which partners and families are comfortable being together and spending time together, like at the kitchen table. Many non monogous people don't consider themselves "Polyamorous," which has taken on a couple-centric facade in many online communities. But solo polyam people are singles or otherwise coupled people who don't feel the need to co-habitate, ride the relationship escalator, or date as a couple.

I myself happen to be a non monogamous Relationship Anarchist, which means to me that my relationships aren't bound by societal norms. They are all equally valid. I don't need a title to be in a relationship, nor do I shy away from committed relationships that are customized to be perfect for me and that particular partner.

But I feel with the growing trend of loving how you want to love, many more people are breaking free of conditioning that has trained us to believe that anything but two people in a relationship is "wrong."

In what ways would you alter your relationships to reflect the way your heart truly beats?

How does it work?
Read next: 'Chocolate Kisses'
C Freelove

Non-monogamist. Relationship coach. Real person. Finding the art in all things.

See all posts by C Freelove