Contrary to what many people believe, monogamy isn’t the only type of marital or committed relationship that people participate in. There are several types of modern-day relationships that cater to different people’s unique preferences.
Flexible ways of living in a non-monogamous relationship are being brought to light. Some people are gravitating to two kinds of non-monogamy – polyamory and open marriage – as a non-traditional way to live. Let’s discuss these two lifestyles.
What Is Open Marriage?
Open marriage is a blanket term for all kinds of consensual non-monogamy that could include swinging, polyamory, and condoned affairs. The key similarity among all of these is consent of all adults involved.
While some participants engage in this practice within their own religious affiliation, such as Muslims or Mormons practicing polygyny (whereby one male has multiple wives or female partners), others fall into the more progressive category for personal preferences.
Swinging is the most well-known and most popular form of non-monogamy in marriage relationships. Broadly, it involves the consensual switching of partners for sexual purposes, usually at parties. It involves two or more couples getting together as a group and sharing each other’s spouses.
Another type of practice that has gained notoriety through the book and movie Fifty Shades of Grey is BDSM (bondage, domination, sadism, and masochism). BDSM often involves mainly bondage and domination, but contrary to popular belief, this practice doesn’t always include sex.
BDSM is more about exploring boundaries, emotions, and fantasies. Sado-masochism involves deriving sexual enjoyment while experiencing pain, and/or of inflicting pain or humiliation on another person.
What Is Polyamory?
There has been a recent influx of shows featuring unconventional relationships that include more than one person. These relationships notably display polyamory, which is being committed to and in love with two or more people at the same time.
Polyamory derives its meaning from the Greek word poly meaning many, and the Latin word amare meaning love – therefore, many loves. This is quite different from hidden, secretive affairs – polyamory implies full knowledge and consent of all partners involved.
Contrast this with an open marriage relationship, which mostly centers around lighthearted sex with others outside the marriage. Polyamory means actually being in love with more than one person.
For some people participating in polyamory, there’s a certain misunderstanding of their dynamic. In many cases, polyamorous people will have one “anchor” family that they live with, and other relationships outside of that core group. It can be seen as a way to reduce the restrictions of a more traditional marriage.
However, open relationships should not be used as a way to soften the blow of someone who actually wants to break up or divorce, or to transition out of a committed situation – or, conversely, to keep such a relationship alive. Being open and honest with all adults involved is of utmost importance in all sexual and romantic relationships.
Sex Therapists in New Jersey
A sex-positive and sex-affirming sex and relationship therapy practice, Advanced Psychology Partners is your source for mental health, couples therapy, and sex therapy services. Our therapy sessions are completely confidential, and we’re open to talk about anything you want to talk about.
Whether you have concerns or questions regarding sexual preferences, or you are hoping to resolve couple conflicts or to eradicate sexual problems, we are here for you. For more information, call us at (973) 743-2990, or request a complimentary meet-and-greet with a therapist. We look forward to hearing from you.