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Your Guide to Non-Monogamy

Monogamy is often the "default" way that we do relationships. Having one exclusive partner can sometimes feel less complicated, more socially acceptable, safer, or more fulfilling.

While monogamy may feel like the norm for many, it's not really the default for human nature. Most people in relationships have fantasies about having sex with someone else, or have even fantasized about having threesomes or group sex.

Psychologist and researcher Justin Lehmiller's book, Tell Me What You Want: The Science of Sexual Desire, revealed that group sex was the most common fantasy for Americans.

In his study of over 4,000 participants, 89% reported fantasies about threesomes, 74% said they fantasize about orgies, and 61% fantasize about gangbangs.

Monogamy isn’t the only option for relationships, and having sex with multiple partners can also happen in healthy relationships with strong communication and clear boundaries. Monogamy may have been designed to fit our society and our culture, but this isn't a one-size-fits-all dynamic for our individual biology.

Within monogamous relationships, fantasizing about sex with someone outside of the relationship is also no cause for alarms: it's a part of being human.

Of course, it is equally important to acknowledge that we all have a choice about what to do with those feelings of attraction towards other people. For some of us, it is enough to understand that monogamy is naturally difficult. Then to continue with that commitment, perhaps even strengthened by our new perspective.

For many of us, the idea of our partner having sex or being intimate with someone else can bring up a lot of insecurity and hurt. Especially, if you're someone who believes you should only ever have sex with the person you are in a committed relationship with, it’s unlikely opening up your relationship will be a good idea. That’s ok.

For others, other options like consensual non-monogamy might be a good option. And this is a choice which is actually becoming more and more common today. In fact, it’s thought that about 1 in 5 couples are now in non-monogamous relationships.

There are a lot of options, so let's run through some of the most common ones:

Open Relationships

This is where there’s usually one primary relationship with other sexual partners or casual hookups outside of the primary relationship.

Polyamorous Relationships

These comprise of multiple, committed partnerships often defined by love, intimacy and sometimes exclusivity.

Swinger Relationships

This often involves having sex with other couples or with an individual but only when together. Some data has shown that this style of relationship correlates with highest relationship and sexual satisfaction.


Monogamish means a mostly monogamous relationship with specific parameters and limits agreed upon by both partners. This could include only flirting, or making out or having sex. It could also include other such arrangements: for example, a rule like “don’t ask don’t tell,” where you are monogamous, except when one or the other is out of town.

As always, it’s absolutely critical that you talk with your partner. Because a category which is emphatically not part of the consensual non-monogamous world, but is often mistaken for it, is cheating. This happens when any non-monogamous activity is not mutually consensual between you and your partner.

Be Specific with Communication

What are you really asking for?

Does it mean browsing the apps and picking someone up?

Does it mean bringing in friends?

Or does it involve taking people out on dates?

If this is the first time communicating with your partner about opening up your relationship. Give your partner space, and time, to process things.

If you both decide to go ahead, agree with each other that you the plug at any time. Just because you’ve opened the relationship does not mean that it’s open permanently.

And whatever you decide to do, remember, there is nothing strange or shameful about exploring non-monogamy. So if you think it might be for you, then go slow, communicate more than you think is needed and have fun!


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