Ethical Non-Monogamy: Your Guide to Responsible Open Relationships

Ethical Non-Monogamy: Your Guide to Responsible Open Relationships
Written by The X Cube

Ethical non-monogamy (ENM) is the practice of engaging in romantic relationships that are not strictly exclusive between two people.

Although the majority of couples in our society are monogamous, meaning that once they are united they do not have romantic or sexual relationships with anyone else, approximately one in five people enter into non-monogamous relationships at some point in their lives.

This article discusses types of non-monogamous relationships, why people choose them, and how to practice them in a way that is safe and satisfying for all parties involved.

Practice ethical non-monogamy

There are many ways to practice ethical non-monogamy, all of which involve open communication between all parties involved.

Although it may not be the default way to pursue romantic relationships, various forms of non-monogamy have gained popularity in recent years.

An ENM can present itself in a relationship in many different ways. This may involve one person acting out of the relationship or both parties doing so. It can include only sexual relationships with other people, only romantic relationships, or both romantic and sexual relationships.

Even if both people in the primary relationship practice NME, they may have different habits regarding the emotional connections they make with their romantic and/or sexual partners.

ENM vs. cheating

What separates ethical non-monogamy from cheating is that no matter what type of ethical non-monogamy you practice in your relationship, both people in the relationship agree to it.

In the case of cheating, the partner does not agree. ENM Don’t cheat because you and your partner have previously agreed not to practice monogamy.

Why do people choose ENM

There are many reasons to want an ethical, non-monogamous relationship. These are just some of them

Ability to explore one’s sexuality: Sexuality can change over time and can take time to fully understand. For those who want to explore their sexual identity by experiencing people of a different gender than their partner, ENM makes sense because it does not require them to give up their relationship to be better in touch with their sexual identity.
Some relationships don’t meet all of a person’s needs, so expecting someone to be a perfect fit for you and love everything you love is a lot of pressure. To relieve this pressure, people who practice ENM are free to look outside their relationship for others who may have similar sexual or romantic interests to their partners.
Enough love for everyone: There are people who are able to love several people at the same time, and they feel more satisfied in life when they are able to do so.

Enm types

Ethical non-monogamy is a general term. This means that a variety of different individual relationship models fall within its broad definition.

What they all have in common is that the relationship is not strictly monogamous and that all participants agree to having this type of relationship.

ENM as your own practice

It is worth noting that you can practice ENM without following one of the following relationship models. Relationships are made up of what the people in them agree to, and there is no need to adhere to the rules of any existing relationship model.

Some couples who practice NME do not subscribe to any other relationship model. They simply make their own rules about what is and is not acceptable for their individual relationship and then follow them.


Polyamory is probably the best-known version of ethical monogamy. Like ENM in general, polyamory can be done in many different ways.

In one embodiment, multiple people are together in a relationship. Another model involves a pair of two individuals, each committed to additional partners. In other cases, the person in the relationship may be polyamorous and have many partners, but one or more of his or her partners may not have or want to have other partners.

Polyamorous relationships depend on communication between parties about issues ranging from safe sex to emotions. Polyamory can involve a long-term commitment to more than one person at a time. The word polycule is often used to describe a connected polygamous network.

Open relationships

Unlike polyamory, open relationships generally do not involve commitment to parties outside the relationship between two people. This relationship model is popular because couples may seek external sexual relationships, but it may also include romantic and/or emotional relationships with others.

However, it is generally implemented on the basis that the primary relationship between two people has the highest priority.

Relationship chaos

Don’t be afraid of the word chaos. Relationship Anarchy is not about overthrowing anything other than traditional ways of living in relationships. It is a model in which the people involved do not use hierarchical terms for partners and do not view them in terms of priority. It contrasts with a hierarchy of relationships, where there is one primary relationship that attracts most of a person’s attention.

In the chaos of relationships, everyone is equal. An individual will not necessarily view a romantic relationship as more important than a friendship, and may not classify their relationships as strictly platonic, romantic, and/or sexual. This model focuses on personal freedom and independence.


Monogamy, popularized by writer Dan Savage, is the term given to couples who are mostly monogamous but occasionally engage in extra sexual relationships.

Monogamous people tend to focus only on external sexual encounters, and not on romantic relationships with people other than their partners. Long periods of time may also pass between external sexual encounters.


Polygamy is primarily defined as a biblical or religious practice and occurs when a person has multiple husbands. He may be a polygamous husband or a polygamous wife, but he is known as the former.

Polygamy is illegal in the United States. Although it can be practiced ethically, there have been instances involving coercion and exploitation.3

How to practice ENM

Nothing is more important to a successful, ethically non-monogamous relationship than open communication. Before embarking on the journey to a new relationship style, you and your partner should make sure you’re on the same page about what you both want.

A note on “ethics”

As we move toward an increasingly open society, many people believe that the “e” in “ENM” should be dropped. Entire articles have been written on this topic. The idea that monogamy is the only model of an inherently moral relationship and that all others must be qualified by the word in front of them to indicate that they too are moral comes from colonialism.

Non-monogamy has been present in indigenous societies throughout time. In an attempt to force indigenous societies to adopt Christianity and behave in a more “civilized” manner, the Western invaders changed society in the direction that the Church permitted marriage between a man and a woman. Women were considered the only option. Acceptable relationship formula

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