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Is Non-Monogamy Right for You?

Ethical non-monogamy is a relationship style that challenges traditional notions of romantic exclusivity. It's a dynamic and evolving approach to love and intimacy that requires careful consideration and active participation from all involved parties. Many people default to exclusive relationships or monogamous relationships because that is the approach most common in the social, relational, and cultural traditions of love.

While opening up a relationship can be uncomfortable or even feel threatening, finding a safe space to have an open and honest discussion with your partner about relationship style can unlock dimensions of emotional and sexual intimacy that never felt possible before. Determining if this relationship style is good for you is a process of both internal reflection and intentional communication.

Negotiation is a word often used in contractual or business matters referring to how we discuss and agree upon a set of terms, rules, and boundaries for operation. When applied to relationships, this can increase our awareness of our relational needs and desires which are not, or cannot be met in a traditional romantic partnership. Couples who practice non-monogamy will still face and address similar challenges as those who choose monogamy. The key is in choosing the terms that work best for you and your partner.

Setting and respecting boundaries is another critical component of ethical non-monogamy. Boundaries are the guidelines that define what is acceptable and what isn't within your relationship(s). Think of these as the foundation for knowing and expressing what’s important to you in the relationship. Sometimes these are described as ‘deal breakers’, however, the nuance is much less defined. Here's how to navigate boundaries:

Effective communication is the lifeblood of ethical non-monogamy. It helps in fostering trust, resolving conflicts, and nurturing emotional intimacy. Communication happens through talking, acting, reacting, and in the absence of all of these as well. Some couples may negotiate a ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ clause, whereas for others, sharing details of other interactions and partners can help to increase trust and intimacy.

Negative emotions are a natural part of any relationship, and they can be intensified in non-monogamous arrangements. A typical emotion that arises in non-monogamy is jealousy. In this process, understanding where the jealousy comes from, and addressing it with yourself and with your partner is an opportunity to heal early relational wounds stemming from all previous relationships including family.

Non-monogamy can, at first, sound like a lot of work. It is, however, creating and maintaining a long, happy relationship also requires work. In a non-monogamous structure, there is a heightened need for communicating effectively and reflecting on boundaries and negative emotions. I find in my work as a therapist that even monogamous relationships can benefit from the emphasis on negotiation, boundary setting, communication, and self-reflection. Remember that ethical non-monogamy is a journey of self-discovery, growth, and love, and it's essential to be patient and compassionate with yourself and your partners as you navigate this exciting terrain.

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Sam Nabil is the founder of Naya Clinics and is a Cincinnati therapist and a Cincinnati Marriage Counselor.

Sam offers therapy in Cincinnati and Cincinnati Marriage Counseling for adults suffering from relationship challenges, life transitions and anxiety.

Sam was featured in many prestigious publications. Check out his interview with Aljazeera English And Cornell university , Yahoo News, USA Today,,

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