ENM Relationships: Love is a complex and diverse emotion that can be expressed in many different ways. For some people, love means being faithful and committed to one person for life. For others, love means having the freedom and consent to explore multiple connections with different people. These are known as ethical non-monogamy (ENM) relationships, and they are becoming more popular and accepted in today’s society.
What is Ethical Non-Monogamy?
Ethical non-monogamy (ENM) is an umbrella term for the practice of taking part in romantic or intimate relationships that are not completely exclusive between two people and are also consensual. This is the opposite of monogamy, wherein two partners are exclusive with one another and do not engage in romantic or intimate relationships with anyone else.
People who engage in ENM are considered to do so with consideration and honesty with their partners. Either one person or both in the relationship can engage in outside relationships, or a single person may engage in ENM with someone who is in multiple relationships.
There are several main types of ethical non-monogamous relationships, such as:
- Polyamory: Polyamory involves having multiple romantic partners and relationships. Partners are free to date and fall in love with other people with the consent of their other partners. There is often a “primary” partner, but all relationships are valued.
- Open Relationships: Open relationships typically refer to one primary couple where both partners agree the other can have sexual relationships or hookups outside the main relationship. Dating and romantic connections with others is typically less common.
- Swinging: Swinging involves couples engaging in sexual activities with other couples. This is primarily for physical intimacy only; not romantic connections.
Why Choose Ethical Non-Monogamy?
There are many reasons why someone may choose to engage in ENM, including the following:
- To fulfill other needs: People who engage in ENM may do so to meet other needs they may have that their present relationship cannot provide. Often, in monogamous relationships, there is the expectation that your one partner must fulfill every need that you have for the relationship to work. Many who are ENM believe that putting these expectations on a partner is unreasonable as you cannot expect one person to meet every need you have, just as they cannot expect everything from you.
- To explore one’s sexuality: Sexuality can change over time, and it can take time for us to understand fully. For those who wish to explore their sexual identity by experimenting with people of a different gender than their partner, ENM makes sense because it doesn’t require them to give up their relationship in order to become better in touch with their sexual identity.
- To enhance one’s relationship: Some people who engage in ENM may do so to enhance their existing relationship. They may find that having outside connections can bring more excitement, variety, and satisfaction to their primary relationship. They may also learn new skills, perspectives, and insights from their other partners that can benefit their main relationship.
What are the Benefits and Challenges of Ethical Non-Monogamy?
Like any other type of relationship, ENM has its benefits and challenges. Some of the benefits include:
- More freedom and autonomy: People who engage in ENM may enjoy having more freedom and autonomy over their own choices and desires. They may feel less restricted or constrained by societal norms or expectations. They may also feel more empowered and confident in expressing their true selves.
- More diversity and growth: People who engage in ENM may experience more diversity and growth in their lives. They may encounter different people, cultures, experiences, and ideas that can enrich their worldview and understanding. They may also learn new things about themselves and their partners that can foster personal growth and development.
- More support and love: People who engage in ENM may receive more support and love from their multiple partners. They may have more sources of emotional, physical, and practical support that can help them cope with stress, challenges, or difficulties. They may also feel more loved, appreciated, and valued by their partners.
Some of the challenges include:
- More complexity and communication: People who engage in ENM may face more complexity and communication issues in their relationships. They may have to deal with more logistics, schedules, agreements, boundaries, expectations, and emotions that can be overwhelming or confusing. They may also have to communicate more frequently and effectively with their partners to ensure everyone is on the same page and happy.
- More jealousy and insecurity: People who engage in ENM may struggle with jealousy and insecurity at times. They may feel threatened or insecure by their partner’s other connections. They may also feel jealous or envious of what their partner has or does with others. They may have to work on managing these feelings and building trust and confidence in themselves and their relationships.
- More stigma and discrimination: People who engage in ENM may face stigma and discrimination from society. They may encounter negative attitudes, judgments, stereotypes, or prejudices from others who do not understand or accept their lifestyle. They may also face legal, social, or professional barriers or challenges that can affect their rights, opportunities, or well-being.
How to Practice Ethical Non-Monogamy Ethically?
If you are interested in exploring ENM, you should do so ethically and responsibly. Here are some tips to help you practice ENM in a way that is respectful and fulfilling for you and your partners:
- Be honest and transparent: Honesty and transparency are essential for ENM. You should be honest and transparent with yourself and your partners about your needs, desires, expectations, boundaries, and feelings. You should also disclose any relevant information that may affect your partners, such as your health status, other partners, or potential risks.
- Be respectful and considerate: Respect and consideration are also important for ENM. You should respect and consider your partner’s needs, desires, expectations, boundaries, and feelings. You should also respect and consider the needs, desires, expectations, boundaries, and feelings of your other partners and their partners. You should treat everyone with kindness, dignity, and care.
- Be safe and responsible: Safety and responsibility are also crucial for ENM. You should be safe and responsible with your sexual health and practices. You should use protection, get tested regularly, and inform your partners of any changes or concerns. You should also be responsible for your emotional health and well-being. You should take care of yourself, seek support when needed, and avoid harming yourself or others.
Ethical non-monogamy is a valid and viable option for those who want to explore new ways to love. It can offer many benefits and opportunities for personal and relational growth and satisfaction. However, it also requires a lot of communication, negotiation, and honesty from all parties involved. If you are curious about ENM, you should do your research, talk to your partner(s), and find out what works best for you.