Non-Monogamy 101


What is Non-monogamy?

Non-monogamy is a term used to describe several forms of relationships in which there are multiple partners involved. Contrary to the monogamous way of thinking, that a relationship means having only one person with whom to exchange sex, love, and affection with.

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Types of Ethical Non-monogamy

  1. Polyamory
    Polyamory refers to a person who has multiple partners in a relationship. We can think of this as a couple who opens their relationship to a third partner and allows them to be a part of their life actively and sometimes move in with them. There is much controversy surrounding polyamory as it is not seen as ethical and cannot be claimed a legal relationship status. There are issues surrounding the polyamorous lifestyle and couples face struggles in their everyday lives both legal and at home. On the contrary, some lead a solo-polyamorous life, meaning they have more than one partner at a time while living an independent life.
  2. Swingers
    Swinging is one of the most common forms of consensual monogamy. The swinger lifestyle is becoming more and more popular amongst monogamist couples. There are different types of swinging relationships, and you can learn more about the swinger lifestyle in our other blogs (please refer to “What is a Swinger” for more info). Swinging is when both partners agree to “swap” sexual partners with another couple. This can be arranged either by chatting with each other on a swinger’s dating site, a random hook-up at a party, on vacation at a Swinger’s resort, or while enjoying an evening at a Swinger’s club.
  3. Quasi-monogamy
    A term created by Dan Savage from “Savage love”, Quasi-monogamy, is another form of ethical non-monogamy worth talking about. This type of ethical non-monogamous couple allows sexual activity outside of the relationship. Some couples in a quasi-monogamous relationship may be allowed to have a one-night stand or agree that the other partner can hook up while away on business. Contrary to polyamory and swinging, couples are allowed to have sexual relations outside the relationship.
  4. Relationship Anarchist
    Relationship anarchy is a relationship viewpoint which attracts its followers from political anarchy. The main view led by relationship anarchists is that all relationships should remain free of any rules or limitations. Relationship anarchists’ relationships vary significantly from couple to couple. However, there are several core values shared by most relationship anarchists. The first being non-hierarchical, which means they don’t rank their romantic partner(s) as essentially more important than their friends, anti-prescriptionists which are those that there are no built-in presumptions about what a partnership must look like, and the non-monogamous couples.

Monogamy vs Ethical Non-monogamy?

Monogamy has been the way of life for centuries. Marry that one person your heart desires and until death do you part! Well, let’s get real people; marriage and relationships are very different in today’s society. Monogamy has many aspects ranging from marrying one person, to having one relationship after another, to never getting married at all. No matter how you decide you want your relationship to be, know that monogamy is not the only option out there. Monogamy is the most common form of relationship status, with more than 70% of the US population involved in a monogamous relationship. Mono means “one”, making monogamy the simplest status to understand; it is an intimate relationship with one person.


Ethical non-monogamy comes in many different forms. Polyamory, swinging, quasi-monogamy, and relationship anarchy are the most common forms of ethical non-monogamy. Couples are discovering the benefits of ethical non-monogamy through research and open discussions with one another. There are both positives and negatives to both monogamous and ethical non-monogamous lifestyles. No one can tell you which option is best and what works for you and your partner may not work for other couples. The discussion of ethical non-monogamy is a difficult one, and many do not agree with the lifestyle. However, couples that discover the benefits of ethical non-monogamy are very happy and indulge in passion and increased sex life. We refer to ethical non-monogamists as sex-positive as they see sex as a good thing, not something that is bad or not to be shared with others. Ethical non-monogamist couples find enjoyment in sharing their sex life with others and experience pleasurable sexual relationships. It is important to note that most non-monogamist couples do not use this practice as a way to save their marriage or to prevent infidelity. Couples that practice ethical non-monogamy are very confident in each other and trust each other. Relationships of ethical non-monogamist couples are almost always well established and content.

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How does ethical non-monogamy work?

Now that we understand the different types of monogamy, we shall discuss what ethical non-monogamy is, how it works and whether it is an option for you and your partner. It is important to note that when we talk about “non-monogamy”, we are discussing ethical non-monogamy, where both partners are in agreeance with their non-monogamous relationship. Ethical non-monogamy works differently for every couple as specific wants and fantasies vary from person to person. The best way to explain how ethical non-monogamy works is through the technicalities of non-monogamous relationships. Each person has to be in agreeance of this lifestyle in order for the non-monogamy to be ethical. There is no sneaking around or lying in ethical non-monogamy. Couples fully understand and agree that they will participate in the style of non-monogamy they choose, whether it be swinging, polyamory, or an open relationship.

It may be difficult for some to understand the different types of non-monogamist relationships thoroughly, and some may not agree with the practices shared by those in non-monogamous relationships. It is essential to discuss the wants and desires that both partners in a relationship share before engaging in a non-monogamous relationship. You may find yourselves exploring the different types of non-monogamy and may stumble across the perfect fit for your relationship. You can also blend various forms of non-monogamous relationships to create your ideal style. Finding community support can help you and your partner(s) discover the types of non-monogamy more in-depth and help you find exactly what you are looking for.

Ethical non-monogamy in a nutshell

Ethical non-monogamy has been proven successful for couples all around the world. It is essential to understand that ethical non-monogamy is not the same thing as infidelity or cheating. Couples agree with one another that they will engage in some form of non-monogamy and discover the best way to meet other couples that are interested in the same wants and desires. From polyamory to swinging and even open relationships, ethical non-monogamy comes in different forms. There is no one specific form that appeases to every person, and this is not a one size fits all lifestyle. Couples that are involved in ethically non-monogamous relationships are not looking to save their marriage/relationship or prevent cheating. Ethical non-monogamous couples are very satisfied with their current relationship, and they are usually looking to “spice” up their love life or fulfill certain fantasies. Be sure to do your research and fully understand the types of ethical non-monogamy to discuss your options with your partner.

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