What Is Ethical Non-Monogamy?

What Is Ethical Non-Monogamy? And why do people practice ENM?

Non-monogamous relationships are becoming popular as couples seek new experiences outside traditional marriage and classic relationship style.

But how do people find someone who practices ethical non-monogamy? What are the advantages and disadvantages of being in a relationship with someone who practices ENM?

This article will explore ethical non-monogamous (ENM) relationships, why people engage in these types of relationships, and the potential benefits and pitfalls.

In addition, we will examine the various forms of ENM and how they differ from each other.

What is ethical non-monogamy?

Ethical non-monogamy (ENM) is the practice of consensually taking part in non-exclusive romantic relationships between two people.

Ethical non-monogamy describes relationships in which people are open to having sexual relations outside their primary partnership.

This includes polyamory, swinging, threesomes, and so on. People who practice ethical non-monogamous relationships are often referred to as ethically non-monogamous. Ethical non-monogamous couples tend to be less committed to each other than monogamous couples. In some cases, they agree to keep separate bedrooms and lives.

The concept of ethical non-monogamy is relatively new, and there are no precise statistics on the number of people who engage in these relationships. However, studies show that about 10% of adults in the United States report being involved in a nontraditional relationship.

Some experts estimate that up to 20% of Americans are involved in some form of nontraditional relationship.

What is ethical non monogamy - Definition

This practice is, by definition, ethical in that it is based on prior consent between partners, dialogue, and absolute transparency.

Boundaries must be clearly defined and shared, and communication plays a key role in maintaining healthy relationships.

TIP – Polyamorous people tend to be open about their experiences: don’t be afraid to talk about whatever you are doing or thinking.

Difference between ethical non-monogamy and cheating

In cheating, the relationship outside the couple is not the result of consensus. For this reason, it is often kept hidden from the partner.

In contrast, in ethical non-monogamy practices- no matter what type- the main point is consent and agreement between partners.

Types of ethical non-monogamy

The term non-monogamy refers to people who practice consensual non-monogamy.

As we have seen, non-monogamy is an alternative lifestyle in which people engage in sexual relationships outside marriage or long-term committed relationships.

Several types of ENM can be identified, including:

Polygamy: involves marriage with multiple wives or multiple husbands.

Open relationships: a general concept to indicate sexual and romantic non-exclusivity between partners.

Polyamory: is a form of a non-monogamous relationship. Polyamorous relationships are distinguished from monogamous relationships by the presence of multiple partners. A polyamorous relationship may include one or more lovers, depending on the individual. Some polyamorous couples prefer to keep their relationships secret, while others openly discuss their life choices. The main categories of this practice are hierarchical polyamory (with a primary relationship and a primary partner), non-hierarchical polyamory, and relational anarchy.

Swapping: consists of the exchange of partners between two couples. Swapping is generally practiced within a group of friends rather than with strangers, or at least within small, exclusive circles of people with common interests (often in invitation-only clubs and private parties).

Polyfidelity: ethical non-monogamy practiced within and confined to a group of people, implying a concept of ‘loyalty’ to the group itself to all non-members.

Characteristics ethical non-monogamy

Ethical non-monogamy is a relationship in which both sides have consent, understanding, and sincerity.


  • This type of relationship is based on mutual respect and trust.
  • Ethical polyamory is based on the idea that each person should be able to choose how many partners to have.
  • Polyamorous couples share their love openly and honestly with all parties involved.
  • Multiple relationships can be hierarchical or anarchic (i.e., identifying a primary and dominant love relationship or not).


According to recent studies, about 500,000 people in the United States practice polyamory.

Polyamory is also spreading rapidly in Europe, especially in large cities.

Why do couples choose non-monogamy?

The reasons may be many and may vary depending on the couple.

However, the main reason is the desire to live free from the constraints of conventional relationships, where there is no freedom to express oneself, to be oneself, to love oneself fully, to be loved, and to enjoy life to the fullest.

This does not mean that people do not want to be faithful, but they feel they cannot fully fulfill them if they are too tied to traditional limiting patterns about faithfulness.

In addition, some men and women choose polyamory because they believe they are bisexual or homosexual and want to experience different sexualities. Others simply like that they can be themselves and not hide anything.

Finally, many couples want to try a lifestyle that allows them to have multiple partners while remaining loyal to each other.

How to get started

First, the interest in this practice must be deeply shared with your partner, discussed openly, and agreed upon in its guidelines before actually trying it out.

That done, it will be a matter of finding like-minded polyamorous individuals who can become sexual partners or, in some way, actors in an extended intimate relationship.

The ways to get in touch with them are many:

Very often, however, people open to this type of experience already reside in our circle of acquaintances and friendships: it will only be a matter of bringing them out into the open by creating a higher level of complicity with them.

Data and statistics

1) Public perception of the morality of polyamory in the UK by age group

Public perception on the morality of polyamory in the uk 2015 by age group
Source: Statista*

2) Public perception of the morality of polyamory in the UK, by gender

Public perception on the morality of polyamory in the united kingdom 2015 by gender
Source: Statista*


What is meant by ethical non-monogamy?

Ethical non-monogamous relationships are those in which two or more partners agree to have sex outside of a monogamous relationship. ENMs include only two people who, through an agreement between them, consensually decide to date other partners. Within the hat of ethical non-monogamy, many practices include polyamory, swapping, and open relationships.

Is non-monogamy legal?

Ethical non-monogamy is a choice that is up to the partners of a couple without holding profiles of legality or illegality. In many countries, there is also a possible institutional recognition of the practice with the legalization of polygamy.

Is ethical non-monogamy the same as cheating?

No, it differs from cheating precisely because of its ‘ethical’ premise. While cheating is non-consensual (often not even overt and transparent), ethical non-monogamy is based on consent between the two partners in an affective relationship.

What is the difference between polyamory and ethical non-monogamy?

Ethical non-Monogamy is an umbrella, and polyamory is just one practice method. Polyamory means having intimate relationships with multiple partners at the same time. More specifically, you can have more than one romantic partner simultaneously. Polyamorous relationships are often considered “open” or “ethical.”

Why do people do ethical non-monogamy?

There are many reasons why people engage in ethical non-monogamous relationships. Among them, however, the most important one is the desire to live freely without any restrictions, to be able to love themselves completely, to be loved by others, and to experience the fullness of their lives.

Is ethical non-monogamy adultery?

A misconception about ENM is that it means “cheaters” or “infidels.” Instead, an ENM is defined by consent. In comparison, cheaters or infidelities mean the lack thereof – there has been no agreement between two partners regarding sexual or romantic involvement with others.

Is non-monogamy a mental illness?

Ethical non-mono­gamy is an alternative lifestyle choice. Polyamory is not a mental illness nor a character defect.

What is the difference between an open relationship and ethical non-monogamy?

Ethical non-monogamy refers to any relationship where partners are not monogamous. Open relationships are any relationships in which partners are currently open to having sex or romance with other partners.

Final thoughts

Ethically non-monogamous relationships, open relationships, polyamorous relationships: the range of relationship types possible today and practiced by couples is getting broader.

WANT TO KNOW MORE? – Ethically, non-monogamous couples represent one of the new lifestyles in sexuality these years. Other emerging trends include outercourse: have you ever heard of it?

A non-monogamy romantic relationship allows people to explore new ways of living together without feeling guilty or betrayed.

And you know what?

Non-monogamous people – romantically involved in a relationship structure – are more than we can imagine.

Have you ever experienced a polyamorous dynamic? Or do you remain anchored to the principles associated with monogamous relationships and think that multiple partners simultaneously are bad?

Tell us about it in the comments!


Leave a Comment

Share to...