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Ethical Non-Monogamy (ENM)

Relationship Structures of Ethical Non-Monogamy and its Role in Therapy

Lets start by defining Ethical Non-Monogamy (ENM) - a type of relationship that is characterized by all the involved participants consenting to sexual or romantic relationships with more than one person. There are various relationship structures included in this umbrella:

  • Open relationships/marriages - partners of a dyadic relationship agree that each may engage in sexual and/or romantic relationships outside of the relationship, without this being regarded by them as infidelity.
  • Swinging - couples engaging in sexual activity with other couples, individuals or groups.
  • Polyamory - individuals practicing polyamory engage in multiple romantic and/or sexual relationships simultaneously with all participants consenting to and aware of the relationship structure.

While the definitions of these relationships are commonly accepted, I encourage you and your partner/s to come up with a relationship structure and agreement that works for YOU - take what you like and leave behind what you don"t. Just like all relationships, it is useful to continually check-in about what is working and what is not. Therapy is an excellent place to take a look at what you really need from a relationship emotionally and sexually and to share these needs with your partner/s.

In therapy, you and or your partner/s can work through concerns surrounding jealousy, breaches in trust, break-ups, communication, and navigating bais from people or entities in your life. Or maybe, you want to see if ENM is right for you and/or an existing monogamous partner. Whether you have been practicing ENM for years or want to get started today, we will work to identify and understand any unmet needs, unanswered questions and/or unhealed wounds. The insight gained through this process will inform how we go about moving forward and deepening the relationship between you and your partner/s.

Often folks that practice ENM come to therapy to overcome challenges that show up in other aspects of their life - like career stress, grief, depression, or anxiety. You don"t want to have to spend time in therapy educating about, justifying, or in the worst case, facing bias against ENM. Having a therapist who is already knowledgeable and non-judgemental about the structure of your relationship removes this obstacle and allows you to begin working on what really matters.

Therapist Recommended Resources for Ethical Non-Monogamy

Polysecure - Jessica Fern

Author Jessica Fern applies attachment theory to ethical non-monogamy and polyamory. Readers will get an overview of attachment theory that affirms ENM and a guide to creating secure attachment with their partners.