Sex Positive Therapy For Ethical Non-Monogamy
I’m Curious About Ethical Non Monogamy, Can Modern Intimacy Help?
When it comes to relationship dynamics, there are many different choices available to couples. Ethical non-monogamy (ENM) is a set of values that couples can choose to have in their partnerships that involve being partnered and committed to one another, but without being monogamous. In other words, in an ethically non-monogamous partnership, a couple has an agreed-upon open relationship.
If you’re interested in this kind of partnership and you’re in an existing relationship, many questions and choices are in front of you and your romantic and sexual partner. We offer counseling services to individuals and couples to help decide how you want your partnership to move into the future.
Ideally, we’re working towards ethical or consensual non-monogamy so you and your partner have the agreements, trust, conflict resolution skills needed to navigate this lifestyle inside of your committed relationship.
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Is it Normal to Be Curious About An Open Relationship?
For some couples, it’s natural to be curious about lifestyles that don’t align with the status-quo. Many couples are interested in opening their relationship, temporarily or permanently. The key is to explore the decisions in a way that honors the wishes and desires of the people involved in the relationship.
Through sex-positive therapy, we can help you have healthy conversations about these possibilities, develop a co-created set of boundaries, and navigate any feelings (including jealousy or guilt) that may be present as you explore new sexual dimensions.
Is Ethical Non-Monogamy the Same as Having an Open Relationship?
Technically, an open relationship is a type of an ethical non-monogamous relationship. The base value for all ENM relationships is that there is a set of agreements that allow each person in the couple to openly engage in sexual activity with people other than their primary partner, but based on different agreements. It’s helpful to explore them all so you have a sense of what kind of ENM you’re interested in exploring.
What are The Various Types of Ethical Non Monogamy?
There are several different types of ethical non-monogamous relationships, including polyamory, open relationships, and swinging.
Polyamory involves having multiple romantic relationships with multiple people. Each polyamorous relationship is considered equal in terms of importance and commitment. Polyamorous relationships can be hierarchical, with some partners being more important than others, or non-hierarchical, where all partners are considered equal.
An example of this is a married couple who openly seek consent from their spouse before engaging in sex with another person. If the spouse disagrees, the new relationship isn’t consummated.
Open relationships involve allowing one’s partner to have sexual relationships with other people while still maintaining a primary romantic relationship. In open relationships, the primary focus is on the emotional commitment and connection between the partners, while the sexual aspect of the relationship is allowed to be explored with others.
Swinging involves couples who engage in sexual activities with other couples or individuals, often in the context of social events or parties. Unlike polyamory or open relationships, swinging typically involves a focus on sexual activities rather than emotional connections or long-term commitments.
Another type of ethical non-monogamy is relationship anarchy, which involves the rejection of traditional relationship structures and the emphasis on the importance of individual freedom and autonomy. Relationship anarchists prioritize forming connections with people based on personal preferences and interests, rather than adhering to predetermined societal norms.
Ethical non-monogamy can also include more specific relationship types, such as hierarchical polyamory, which involves a primary relationship with additional, secondary partners, or solo polyamory, where individuals have multiple relationships but choose not to prioritize one partner over another.
How to Create a Healthy Partnership Within All Types of Ethical Non-Monogamy
The key to practicing ethical non-monogamy is the importance of open communication, consent, and honesty among all parties involved. This means that everyone is aware of the other relationships and the boundaries and expectations that come with them. Ethical non-monogamy allows for individuals to explore their sexuality and relationships in ways that are authentic and fulfilling for them, while still respecting the needs and desires of their partners
What if My Partner Doesn’t Agree with My Desire to Explore Ethical Non-Monogamy?
It’s true that ethical non-monogamy is not for everyone. Within a relationship ENM requires a great deal of emotional maturity, trust, and communication skills. It can also come with its own set of challenges, such as jealousy, insecurity, and navigating complex relationship dynamics. It is crucial that individuals interested in ethical non-monogamy do their own research, engage in open and honest communication with their partners, and establish clear boundaries and expectations before entering into any type of non-monogamous relationship.
Is Ethical NonMonogamy Healthy?
Research suggests that ethical non-monogamy can have a positive impact on relationship satisfaction, mental health, personal growth, and emotional well-being. Studies have found that individuals in consensually non-monogamous relationships report higher levels of satisfaction and commitment, lower levels of jealousy, and more open communication than those in traditional monogamous relationships.
However, it is important to note that ethical non-monogamy is not the relationship style for everyone, and it requires a high level of communication, transparency, and emotional maturity to navigate. It is crucial for all parties involved to respect each other’s boundaries, communicate their needs and desires openly, and prioritize the safety and well-being of all partners involved.
Therapy from a sex-positive therapist can make a huge difference in making the right decision for your life and the partnerships you commit to.
If you’re interested in exploring ENM relationships, therapy can help
Our culture romanticizes ENM to the point that some couples see it as the solution to deeper challenges that cannot be solved by opening up the relationship. In fact, it can do the opposite and set your partnership on a very challenging path.
It’s wise to see counsel from a sex positive therapist before dismantling your current relationship dynamics. In counseling you can explore what is leading you to want to open your relationship to new partners (in whatever way you wish) and to work with your counselor to co-create relationship agreements that you and your partner agree to.
You also give your partnership the chance to really explore the vulnerabilities that come up when you have multiple partners. Everything from jealousy, to sadness or isolation from feeling “outside” of social norms, to questioning your values and even concerns about your mental health.
Changing your lifestyle can be a very big deal for you and your partner. And it can bring up powerful feelings and emotions. Overall, ethical non-monogamy can be a fulfilling and rewarding lifestyle, but it also requires a significant amount of work, communication, and emotional maturity to navigate the challenges that arise.
For all of these concerns, sex positive therapy can help.