Valentine’s Day Tips: How To Navigate Ethical Non-Monogamy

This Valentine’s Day, if you’re celebrating, there are many ways to go about it. Solo, with friends, with a monogamous partner.

But what if you’re partaking in an ethical non-monogamous relationship (or plural?), or are thinking about doing so? 

It’s difficult sometimes to know best how to navigate Valentine’s Day, which is often marketed as a romantic event for couples, as it can feel like it immediately excludes people who might be exploring something outside of a monogamous relationship.

GLAMOUR has pulled together a complete guide:

What ethical non-monogamy is (and what it isn’t)

  • According to Psych Central, it involves “sexual and/or romantic relationships between multiple people”. What is key is that although these relationships are co-existing separately, all partners have consented to this situation and all know about each other.
  • It is an umbrella term for a range of relationships – with polyamory being one of them. Polyamory is defined by having intimate relationships with multiple people at the same time, and polygamy refers to marriage or a commitment between multiple people. An open relationship is also a type of ethical non-monogamous relationship, but it’s important to stress that not all ethical non-monogamous relationships are open. 
  • It is NOT the same as infidelity, or general non-monogamy. This is because it’s based on consent and an ethical approach to dating multiple people.

“The critical words here are ethical and consensual non-monogamy,” Kate Moyle, sex and relationship expert says. “Whilst infidelity can happen in any relationship set up when one, both or all partners don’t keep to the agreed relationship boundaries – infidelity and ethical non-monogamy are completely different entities.”

  • It isn’t without its challenges.

“Non-monogamous relationships can face many of the same challenges as monogamous relationships – challenges in communication, misunderstandings, feelings of jealousy or rejection, sexual challenges and navigating the different stages and phases that relationships go through,” Kate says. 

“What is a core component of ethical non-monogamy is the clarity of communication around the relationship set up, how much or little partners share about additional partnerships and what every partner’s personal boundaries are.”

Here are Kate’s top tips for navigating ethical non-monogamy:

Be transparent about plans

Planning and communication are important factors in all relationships but become more important with an increase in the number of people involved. Making sure everyone is aware of plans is important for nobody feeling unintentionally sidelined or de-prioritised, and so prior agreement around arrangements is key if you are celebrating Valentine’s.