Ethical Non-Monogamy (ENM) is an umbrella term for relationships involving more than two individuals who all give informed consent. It has been historically recorded to be much more common than society likes to admit.
There are many ways one may function in an ENM relationship. This can include anything, so long as it is consensual and desires amongst all partners involved.
This section will be covering approaches to ENM relationships, and different aspects of said relationships
ENM Counting is a term used to describe all polyamorous/polygamous relationships with a specific number of partners. Terms this includes this are listed below.
- Biamorous: when someone dates two individuals.
- Polycule: when someone dates five or more individuals.
- Quad Polyamory: when there are four individuals dating.
- Relationship Collector: when someone collects partners.
- Triad: when three individuals are dating.
An ENM Structure is a term used to describe a polyamorous/polygamous relationship that has a specific layout with how it functions. Terms this includes this are listed below.
- Arrow Polyamory: a quad relationship where one individual is dating three other individuals, but those three individuals aren't intimately involved with each other.
- Complex Quad: a quad that is almost full, with one exception. Example: A, B, and C are dating, B, C, and D are dating, however A and D are not dating.
- Double V Polyamory: when two V relationships are stuck together and make a quad.
- Full Quad: when everyone in a quad is dating one another.
- Line Relationship: a relationship where as the partners get older, they add new younger partners to the group, to keep the relationship going.
- Multiamorous: when every partner in a ENM has different relationships with one another, or where there is a complex mix of polyamorous relationships.
- N Polyamory: a quad relationship where A and B are dating. C and D are dating. B and C are dating, However, C is not dating A, and B is not dating D.
- Plus One Polyamory: a quad relationship where three are in a triad, but one partner has an extra partner.
- T Polyamory: a triad where the third individual involved is what keeps the first two dating. Example: A is dating B and C. If A left, B and C would break up.
- V Polyamory: when someone is dating two individuals, but the two individuals they are dating are not dating each other.
ENM Functions is an umbrella term to describe how a polyamorous/polygamous relationship functions, the agreements partners have made on how it functions, and the general rules/acts involved.
- Autoamorous: when someone is self-partnered, and dates others too, making then polyamorous.
- Competitive Relationship: when the choices/decisions of each partner, and how much control they get in the relationship, depends on a monthly contest.
- DADT Polyamory: when a couple allows each other to have other partners, but do not want to hear or talk about their partners other relationships.
- Egalitarian Polyamory (EP): when every partner involved has equal say in relationship-based decisions, regardless of how long they've been involved.
- Equiamorous/Group Relationship/Polyfidelity: when every partner involved has equal say and are all dating each other.
- Geographically Non-Monogamous: when a couple allows each other to have other partners when they are physically apart.
- Hierarchical Polyamory: when each partner is sorted into three groups and each group holds a different amount of say in relationship-based decisions.
- Monogamish: when a couple is usually monogamous, but sometimes allows interaction with other individuals.
- Open Relationship: when a couple is very intimately involved (usually married,) and allows relationships (usually sexual) with other partners.
- Pluriad: when all partners (except flings/one-night stands) are dating.
- Polyamorish: when one is in a polyamorous relationship, but has occasional exceptions of monogamous behavior.
- Polymonoflux: when someone fluctuates between monogamy and polyamory in their relationship.
- Singleish: when someone does not prioritize partners and commitment, and instead just dates whoever, while still being honest about it to those involved.
- Solo Polyamory: when someone emphasizes their own agency in relationships, and does not desire a relationship that is very partner-centric.
- Swinging: when a couple is intimately involved, and allows their partner to engage in sexual activities outside of their relationship, usually for recreational or social purposes.
- Virtuamorous: when someone has multiple online relationships, and does not desire multiple offline relationships.
Attractional ENM Types
- Polyaffectionate: when ones polyamorous relationship is structured on tertiary attraction, such as queerplatonic, alterous, platonic, etc.
- Polyamalterous: when ones polyamorous relationship is structured on alterous attraction.
- Polyamsensual: when ones polyamorous relationship is structured on sensual attraction.
- Polyerosous: when ones polyamorous relationship is structured on sexual attraction.
- Polyplatonic: when ones polyamorous relationship is structured on platonic and/or queerplatonic attraction.
- Polyqplatonic: when ones polyamorous relationship is structured on queerplatonic attraction.
- Duogamous: when someone dates two individuals of opposing genders (typically binary, however they can be abinary and/or non-binary genders as well.)
- Panamorous: when someone dates multiple individuals regardless of their gender.
- Polyandry: when a woman is in a relationship/marriage with multiple men.
- Polyanthropy: when someone marries a mixture of men and women, or marries anonbinary/non-binary individuals.
- Polygyny: when a man is in a relationship/marriage with multiple women.
- Polysapphic: when a woman is in a relationship/marriage with multiple women.
- Polyachillean: when a man is in a relationship/marriage with multiple men.
- Polyenbian: when a non-binary/anonbinary individual is in a relationship with multiple anonbinary/non-binary individuals.
Other ENM terms/identities
- Agorarelatious: when someone is interested in an open relationship, DADT polyamory, and/or swinging.
- Monocortar: when someone feels like they were once monogamous, but their monogamous desires were swapped to polyamorous, for whatever reason.
- Monoflexible: when someone usually seeks out monogamy, but wants to experiment with polyamory or test out polyamory due to questioning.
- Monotra: when someone feels like they were once monogamous, but their monogamy was cut away from trauma, and they are now polyamorous.
- Plurian: an umbrella term for someone who experiences plural attraction, such as attraction to multiple individuals, or attraction to multiple genders.
- Polyaffective: when two or more individuals are connected through a polyamorous relationship, while not dating.
- Polycurious: when someone is questioning if they are non-monogamous.
- Synamorous: when someone desires to be in a group relationship.
History within the USA
The polyamorous identity did not exist during the 19th century, but the early initial expression of non-monogamy had a profound influence on later poly/non-mono thinking and communities. There have been several groups of individuals who practiced a multiple partner relationship style in the United States in the mid-to-late 1800s, most influenced by the Nineteenth Century transcendental movement (Hutchins, 2001). Brook Farm was an “experimental free love community” (Hutchins, 2001:72) populated by “Quakers, Shakers, Mormons, and other charismatic leaders who roamed up and down the east coast preaching [a doctrine that] challenged conventional Christian doctrines of sin and human unworthiness.”
John Humphrey Noyes founded the Oneida community in 1848, in which they established a system of “complex marriage” where “each male was theoretically married to each female, and where each regarded the other as either a brother or a sister.” This rejection of monogamous marriage was intended to offer an alternative to “the monogamous relation [which] fostered exclusiveness and selfishness, and worked to counter communism.” Children similarly lived together in a communal children’s house. Parents were not permitted to show special affection to their own biological children and were mandated to treat all children of the community equally.
Nashoba was a free-love community established in 1862 by Frances Wright, a wealthy Scottish immigrant. Wright formed a large communal farm “bringing together both free blacks and whites to work and make love.” She opposed the racism that was spread at the time and declared “sexual passion the best source of human happiness.”
Research into non-monogamous relationships peaked in the early 1970s. By that time, the sexual revolution had popularized sexual experimentation, and the concepts of open and group marriages had gained notoriety. American culture was more sexually permissive than ever before, and the specter of AIDS had not yet destroyed the playful sense of sexual experimentation. Researchers studied those involved in “multilateral marriages,” which they defined as “three or more partners, each of whom considers him/herself to be married (or committed in a functionally analogous way) to more than one of the other partners.”
Research on swinging similarly flourished in the sexually adventurous 1960s and 1970s, documenting new trends in extra-marital/co-marital sexual involvement Studies examined swingers’ race and ethnicity, social class, education, and political perspectives. This research created a profile of a swinger as a “White, middle to upper middle class individual in his or her late 30s who is fairly conventional in all ways except for her or his lack of religious participation/identification and participates in swinging.” Once the sexual revolution collided with the spread of AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections in the 1980s — a time that Peterson (1999) characterized as “the great repression” — research on sexually non-exclusive relationships dwindled. Although very few such studies were published during the 1980s and 1990s, the practice of non-monogamous relationships endured.
The non-monogamous pride flag was coined on June 17th of 2016 by Deviantart user NonMonoPrideFlags. Blue represents the openness and honesty among all partners, red represents love and passion, and white represents the inevitable acceptance of society towards non-monogamous relationships and individuals.