Curious about consensual non-monogamy? Well, you've come to the right place. In a world where there is open communication and negotiation no one has to cheat, and the likelihood of having your needs met (and even your fantasies and desires) is very high. We're going to cover the basics, and if that whets your appetite or peaks your interest, we'll include some easy ways to find out more.
An "Open Relationship" is frequently defined as a relationship style in which the participants are free to have physical relationships with other partners, within mutually agreed limits. How do you reach those mutually agreed upon limits? Negotiation, open communication about your needs and feelings, and asking plenty of questions. Your most important tool? Scheduling.
Polyamory is participation in multiple loving and/or sexual relationships. Poly is relationship orientation, not a sexual orientation, much like “monogamous.” Some people use the term "open" and "poly" interchangeably, so always ask for clarification, as they are frequently different styles.
Some people who engage in non-monogamy use the term "ethical slut" from a the groundbreaking book of the same name. An "ethical slut" is a person who openly chooses to have multiple simultaneous sexual relationships in an ethical and responsible way, and who openly revels in that decision.
Responsible non-monogamy encompasses all of the above, and can be used as an umbrella term for whatever type of sharing you negotiate with yourself and your partner(s). Responsibilities include safer sex practices, honesty, communication, and keeping any agreements that you agree too.
Abundant Love is the belief or philosophy that it is possible to love more than one person at the same time. Abundance can take many forms, and works for many people. Being responsible with your love is a good idea, no matter what your preferred relationship dynamic.
Want to have a threesome, a foursome or a more-some? Here are some basic guidelines:
1) Make sure everyone is on the same page. Just fooling around? Great. Looking for a full time playmate? That's great too. Just giving your sweetheart some extra attention for their birthday? All good, but all very different intentions. Checking in advance means less opportunity for hurt feelings and greater likelihood of more fun time in the future.
2) The details of safer sex vary from partner to partner. Ask in advance. Whoever has the strictest rules, stick to that for everyone. Have your condoms/dental dams/sex toys and clean towels (always have a towel!) ready to rumble.
3) Hydrate and have snacks available. More partners might mean a longer time, and you don't want someone's blood sugar to go wonky.
4) Don't be too serious. Don't forget sex is funny sometimes. That's ok.
5) Go home with the person you came with and/or stick with your partner (or if you're the added bonus, let the partners stick together) when it's all said and done. If you're having a sleepover, make sure you get a moment with your main squeeze, or at least give that moment.
6) If you're playing with friends, make sure everyone feels alright afterward. A check in a day after or so goes a long way.
Still curious? Here are some more information and resources.
Story on Poly from the Alibi Archives
Oldie but goodie, Alternative Advice Column: Carnal Conundrums
Book Suggestions: Opening Up, the Ethical Slut