Totally different Sorts of Non-Monogamy, Outlined


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Non-monogamy is like CrossFit, in that it has a lexicon all its personal. So, even supposing analysis exhibits that 5 % of individuals in North America are at the moment in a non-monogamous relationship, and a couple of in 5 U.S. singles have been beforehand, many people have a tough time speaking about it.

The excellent news: You really don’t want a particular dictionary to speak about your individual non-monogamous relationship, or to know the various kinds of non-monogamy that your pals or lovers could follow. You simply must know just a few primary phrases and also you’ll be effectively in your manner.

Under, with the assistance of six polyamory educators, we put collectively a non-monogamy glossary. Scroll all the way down to turn out to be a scholar of the more and more well-liked relationship construction. (Notice: We’ve got chosen not to place the under phrases in alphabetical order, opting as an alternative to place them in an order that can maximize understanding.)

Frequent varieties of non-monogamy

Non-monogamy is an umbrella time period for any relationship construction whereby individuals are allowed to, inside the agreements of their relationship(s), type romantic and/or sexual connections with a number of individuals.

There are a selection of non-monogamous relationship agreements and designs that fall beneath the non-monogamous catch-all. To call just some: Having one-night stands, hooking up with random individuals when outdoors of a sure zip code, being monogamish, swinging, relationship anarchy, hierarchical non-monogamy, polyamory, and polyfidelity (extra on every under).


These are acronyms for moral non-monogamy (ENM) and consensual non-monogamy (CNM), respectively. Each of those phrases are synonyms for non-monogamy and are each turning into much less widespread in favor of non-monogamy (sans any extra descriptor).

Traditionally, the time period moral non-monogamy was used to separate non-monogamy from, effectively, unethical dishonest. Nonetheless, many non-monogamists are pushing to maneuver away from this time period as non-monogamy is not non-monogamy if it isn’t moral. Plus, the time period moral is tough to outline and ambiguous, notes polyamory educator Jase Lindgren, co-host of Multiamory Podcast and co-author of Multiamory: Important Instruments for Trendy Relationships.

Typically, “the time period consensual non-monogamy is an accepted umbrella time period for relationships that aren’t monogamous the place everybody concerned is conscious and totally consenting,” says Lindgren. “It’s additionally the usual time period utilized in analysis for issues like polyamory, swinging, open relationships, and the approach to life,” he says. However it too is falling out of form as a result of the truth that non-consensual non-monogamy is not non-monogamy in any respect, however dishonest.


Polyamory actually interprets to many (poly) loves (amory). “Polyamory is a type of non-monogamy the place the individuals concerned acknowledge the capability for, are keen to interact with, and/or have a number of loving relationships at one time,” says polyamorous educator Jessica Levity Daylover, the creator behind the Transformed Love Instagram and Transformed Love podcast.

Polyamorous relationships are relationships whereby individuals are capable of have dedicated, ongoing, emotional, intimate, and/or sexual relationships with a couple of individual.

Open relationship

Open relationships are a type of non-monogamy. Whereas, by definition, polyamory facilities love, open relationships (usually) middle extra on bodily and/or sexual connections.

Little doubt, some individuals in open relationships additionally title and acknowledge to crush on and be in love with extra individuals. Nonetheless, usually individuals in open relationships prioritize the emotional stability, soundness, and safety of only one associate, whereas nonetheless permitting extra-relationship bodily connections.

Relationship orientation

Relationship orientation refers to a person’s inherent inclination or desire relating to the kind of romantic or interpersonal relationships they’re interested in or search. Some individuals who follow polyamory really feel that their capability to like many individuals is as innate part of their human fibers as their sexual orientation (or, what gender(s), if any, they’ve the capability to have romantic and/or sexual emotions for), or eye shade.

Different individuals who follow polyamory don’t see it as an orientation, however moderately a structural or life-style selection that they’re making, as a result of issues like private values, neighborhood, and sources.

Whereas understanding the variations may be helpful and validating to the polyamory practitioners, in addition to the polyam-curious, Daylover notes that it finally doesn’t change the validity of the connection. “Whether or not polyamory is one thing somebody is or one thing somebody does doesn’t matter, a lot as the truth that you might be accepting of it,” she says.


Somebody is ambiamorous after they report a degree of comfortability in each monogamous and non-monogamous relationships, says polyamory educator Emily Matlack, co-host of Multiamory Podcast and co-author of Multiamory: Important Instruments for Trendy Relationships. “Being in a single or the opposite doesn’t trigger them any type of emotional misery, and it’s attainable that they may go from polyamorous relationships to monogamous ones and again once more all through the course of their life,” she explains. (There’s a nice episode on the Multiamory podcast about ambiamory).

Different varieties of relationship constructions that fall beneath the non-monogamy umbrella


Swingers, generally often called individuals in The Life-style, are non-monogamous of us who prioritize sexual relationships with individuals outdoors their (often, two-person) relationship, moderately than emotional entwinements, says Matlack.

“Swinger {couples} usually (however not all the time) include a heterosexual dyad who engages in sexual play with one other couple,” she says. One instance of that is one thing often called a associate swap, which entails two {couples} exchanging sexual companions for the evening, often in the identical room. “Ranges of entwinement from couple to couple fluctuate based mostly on private comfortability and differing ranges of emotional entanglement,” Matlack notes.


The phrase throuple is the love youngster of the phrases “couple” and “three,” The time period refers to a balanced, intentional, and dedicated relationship between three individuals. Sometimes, the connection between the three individuals is romantic and loving. (When three individuals have a purely sexual relationship, the time period threesome or threeway is often used as an alternative).

The time period throuple could also be widespread within the media, however really, most non-monogamous of us use the phrase triad to explain their three-person relationships as an alternative.


A triad is a relationship that features three individuals, says psychotherapist and intercourse and relationship skilled Rachel Wright, LMFT, host of the podcast The Wright Conversations: A Podcast About Intercourse, Relationships, and Psychological Well being.

Mostly, individuals use the time period triad when all three individuals are romantically and/or sexually concerned with one another. Nonetheless, generally individuals use the phrase triad for various relationship shapes, too. For example, individuals in a vee relationship (the place one individual is sexually and/or romantically concerned with two individuals, however neither of these two individuals are sexually or romantically concerned with each other) could use this time period, too.

“A triad may be open or closed,” says Wright. “There are triads that additionally date and have intercourse outdoors of their relationship, and there are others that don’t.”


Put merely, “a quad is a four-person relationship,” says licensed intercourse coach Gigi Engle, ACS, CSE, CSC, creator of All The F*cking Errors: a information to intercourse, love, and life. Particularly, it’s a four-person relationship that’s romantic and/or sexual. “It might be closed to the 4 individuals inside the dynamic, or it might have house for different romantic and sexual companions,” she says.

Don’t Ask, Don’t Inform

Do not ask, do not inform (DADT) is an open relationship settlement the place one (or each) companions are free to interact in intercourse with different individuals… as long as they don’t inform their (major) associate. “Individuals in DADT relationships aren’t usually “relationship” these different individuals—they’re simply having informal intercourse with them,” says intercourse educator and author, Zachary Zane, creator of Boyslut: A Memoir and Manifesto and intercourse skilled for Momentum Intimacy.

“DADT insurance policies are solely possible when you find yourself not having intercourse with lots of people apart from your major associate,” he says. Or, if one associate travels rather a lot for work, or in the event you dwell individually. “If you happen to’re always having intercourse with others, after which needing to lie about what you probably did and the place you have been to your associate, it is possible that your relationship will explode moderately rapidly,” he explains. Is sensible.

Hierarchical polyamory

Hierarchical polyamory is a polyamorous relationship whereby there’s an (usually, express) rating system amongst a person’s romantic and/or sexual partnerships. Sometimes, these companions are denoted as major, seconds, tertiary, and so forth.

Often, the first companions in hierarchical relationships get precedence over an individual’s time, sources, and emotional capability. Typically, the first associate can be allowed to set boundaries round what sort of intercourse their associate can have with their second and tertiary companions, in addition to what actions they’ll do collectively, and the way deep the feelings can get.

Many polyamory educators encourage individuals training this model of polyamory to verify they aren’t eradicating company from non-primary companions. You may study extra about this by following Gab Alexa on Instagram and TikTok, in addition to by studying The Moral Slut, Opening Up, and Constructing Open Relationships.

Relationship anarchy

Because the time period anarchy suggests, relationship anarchy (RA) is a relationship mannequin that rejects conventional relationship norms. Coined by Andie Nordgren in 2006 the publication of The quick tutorial manifesto for relationship anarchy, RA is a mode the place there are not any guidelines, expectations, or limitations past what the individuals within the relationship explicitly determine on. As you might guess, communication, communication, and extra communication are the muse on which anarchist relationships are constructed.

Backyard Get together Polyamory

Backyard Get together Polyamory (GPP) names the kind of relationship that a person’s different companions (metamours) have. GPP is basically a softened model of Kitchen Desk Polyam (KTP), although neither possibility is universally higher, or extra advanced than the opposite. Right here, “the non-romantic companions in a polycule [a network or interconnected group of people who are involved in polyamorous relationships with one another] aren’t tremendous shut,” says Engle. “You continue to like and respect each other, however aren’t essentially mates,” she says.

The time period itself means that in case your associate(s) have been to host a backyard celebration (or different celebration), you’d really feel comfy going and interacting along with your associate, your associate’s different companions (your metamours), and your metamours different companions, Engle explains.

Kitchen Desk Polyamory

Kitchen Desk Polyamory is the sort of polyamory mostly represented in media and TV exhibits,” says Daylover.

It names a configuration whereby all (or any mixture of) companions and metamours really feel comfy sufficient to hang around across the kitchen desk, sharing a meal or a espresso, says Lindgren. “This doesn’t imply that all of them dwell collectively (are nesting companions), however that there’s a degree of familiarity the place everyone seems to be comfy hanging out with their associate, in addition to the opposite individuals their associate is relationship,” he says.

Parallel Polyamory

“The thought right here is that an individual could have a number of relationships and that these individuals know in regards to the different’s existence, however that they don’t ever hang around or work together,” explains Lindgren. Although, that is not often a tough and quick rule, however moderately only a desire for a way a lot the metamours’ lives intersect, he says. “For instance, it isn’t unusual in parallel polyamory for the metamours to have met, to be linked on social media, and/or to have one another’s telephone numbers in case of emergency,” he says.

To be clear: Parallel polyamory is a sound desire and construction. “Generally individuals decide parallel polyamory, assuming that it’s much less advanced than kitchen desk polyamory,” says Daylover. “However that isn’t the case!” she says.

Different phrases you’ll hear in polyamorous communities

Anchor associate

“An anchor is a associate who you propose to have in your life with for a protracted, very long time,” says Daylover. “Anchor companions take into account each other when making main life choices.” The connection between them is secure, and each (or all) really feel safe that the connection isn’t going anyplace, she provides.

Nesting associate

A nesting associate, merely put, is an individual you share a house with, says Daylover. “If you don’t dwell with a associate you aren’t a nesting associate,” she says. Whereas nesting companions are greater than roommates, they’re not essentially romantic or sexual. It’s attainable for nesting companions to be platonic, she says.


“A comet refers to a romantic and/or sexual associate who you solely see in individual now and again,” says Lindgren. There are all kinds of causes you might not see this individual usually, akin to relationship saturation, scheduling, or lengthy distance, says Engle.

For the file, comet relationships don’t denote a scarcity of seriousness. “Typically a comet is somebody who you’ve got very sturdy emotions for, however for no matter motive, they don’t seem to be capable of be in your life on a regular basis,” she says. It’s, for instance, attainable to have a comet associate who can be an anchor, says Daylover. “My husband has a comet associate who he doesn’t see usually, however who’s an anchor associate,” she says.


Your metamour is your associate(s)’ associate(s), who you aren’t additionally relationship, says Daylover. “If you’re additionally relationship your associate’s associate, that means, you might be [both] relationship the identical individual, you wouldn’t be metamours, you’d simply be companions,” she says.


Compersion is the expertise of feeling pleasure in response to somebody we care about feeling pleasure. Individuals expertise compersion towards their mates on a regular basis, says Daylover, however the time period is mostly used on the planet of polyamory for the emotions you get when your associate is participating romantically and/or sexually with one other individual or one other one among their companions.

Typically, compersion is outlined as the alternative of jealousy. Whereas that could be a good beginning place for understanding the feeling, that truly isn’t totally correct, says Daylover. “It’s attainable to expertise compersion and jealousy concurrently,” she says.


Polyamorous of us imagine love is an infinite useful resource, that means, in principle, they may love an infinite quantity of individuals. The time period polysaturated acknowledges that whereas love might not be restricted, time and vitality are. “Somebody is polysaturated when—as a result of different companions, youngsters, and different relationships—their time, emotional bandwidth, and vitality ranges are at capability,” explains Daylover.

Navigating the world of non-monogamy can really feel like exploring a international lexicon, with a plethora of phrases and relationship constructions that will initially appear overwhelming. Nonetheless, it is heartening to know that embracing and discussing non-monogamy does not require an in depth dictionary. With a primary understanding of key phrases, anybody can delve in. The importance of labels lies not of their definition however within the acceptance and understanding they convey to relationships.

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