Monogamy is the most widely accepted form of romantic relationships, and is regarded as the social norm stateside, but it’s not the only fair or valid construct for a relationship. Despite what we see on rom-coms, it’s normal for both men and women to desire partnerships that don’t fall within the confines of a one-on-one dynamic—even if it’s just for a period in their lives— but most folks don’t have language to express what they want. There’s also that little thing— you know, societal male privilege— that tells the masses that men can have multiple partners but women cannot. Lies. In a healthy, balanced non-monogamous partnership both parties have equal access (sans emotional consequences) to pursue relationships with multiple partners. Thinking about trying one? If you, and your partners, are fully game give it a go. Here are some options.
An open relationship is any form of romantic relationship where the sex is non-monogamous. People give these kinds of relationships all types of names, like “friends with benefits,” “fuck buddies” or “no strings attached”. If you choose to be in a an open relationship it’s not a “situationship,” it’s your prerogative. Open relationships place a primary focus on sex with the avoidance of emotional or “loving” connection. Another form of open relationship is the open marriage, where a married couple interacts with other people sexually while maintaining their commitment to each other. The emphasis is once again placed on the sexual connection with others, not emotional intimacy. A commonly known form of open marriage is “swinging.”
The perceived benefit of an open relationship is the casualness in sex. There is no commitment that will require extra work. The challenge in open relationships, however, is the inability to stave off feelings for long. Eventually, after copious amounts of coupling, someone may develop feelings and the expectations for the relationship begin to shift. Open relationships can work if all partners realize that some level of emotional connectedness is always present, no matter how hard you try to ignore it. Release the guilt of feeling a bond with partners, and enjoy the freedom in joining.
Polyamory is for those who want to have romantic and sexual relationships with two or more people within the full knowledge and consent of everyone involved. Primary partners are often held within the polyamory relationship, and the “outside” partners are referred to as “paramours.” Solo poly is another form of polyamory where no primary partner exists. The person who subscribes to solo poly emphasizes their autonomy to seek out and choose their own relationships without the permission of others. Solo poly subscribers are not focused on being in any relationships that looks like the “traditional relationship.” Other forms of polyamory are triads and quads where partners live together in the same space and all contribute to the well being of everyone living in the space.
The perceived benefits of polyamory are the freedom to have relationships where everyone is aware of what the next person is doing. There are no secrets when interacting with others within the group and everyone is on the same page. The challenge in this relationship dynamic is in the permission granting and checking in that is required for everyone involved. Consistent communication about interactions is a requirement and permission is needed before bringing anyone new into the fold. Without the permission of the participating partners, no one else can join in. Eventually, the policing of one’s autonomy can become stifling and partners may end up going outside of the agreed upon interactions. Relationships shift naturally, and the dynamic changes among partners at some point. Polyamory is most effective when participants relinquish the need to give others approvals.
In a healthy, balanced non-monogamous partnership both parties have equal access (sans emotional consequences) to pursue relationships with multiple partners.
Polygamy focuses on marriage and is the practice of being wedded to multiple spouses simultaneously. Men can have multiple wives, commonly known as polygyny. According to sociologists, polygamy is practiced in 850 societies. Women can also have multiple husbands— this structure is known as polyandry. The perceived benefits of this dynamic is the convenience of having a tribe of reliable partners who are all able to care for each other in love. The combined finances and efforts create stability within the family unit and the desire to join with others is satisfied due to the multitude of partners interacting. Everything is shared among the spouses. The challenge within polygamous relationships is the sense of specialness, or hierarchy that may arise. As long as each spouse can drop their sense of entitlement and remember that everyone is the same, polygamous relationships can be successful.
A purposeful partnership is a relationship between two or more partners who share a common purpose and thought system. Purposeful relationships are not based on sex, time spent together or any relationship title. A purposeful relationship is based on freedom and the concept that you and your partner(s) share an innocence and purity of intent. There are zero expectations in purposeful relationships. Partners are totally committed to the experience of togetherness while remaining unattached to a specific outcome. Partners within this dynamic create shared curriculum, or framework, to reference that will help maintain the relationship. They also allow the form of the relationship to change, as it naturally will.
The benefit of a purposeful relationship is being accepted without the need to change anything about oneself. Having a purpose for joining guides the relationship along its course and helps partners stay connected with their personal truths. There is no specialness in this form of bonding. The commitment to focusing on personal freedom allows partners to release guilt about extending love to others. The perceived challenge with this type of relationship is that many view the partnership as unrealistic. Many people believe that it is impossible to have a relationship that is absent from common stressors, like jealousy and strife. Purposeful partnerships strive to minimize the ego and allow participants to experience love with ease.
Glamazon Tyomi is CASSIUS’ resident sexpert. Follow her at @GlamazonTyomi.