What is Consensual Non-monogamy
In recent years, people have gotten more creative with the types of relationships they wish to engage in, expanding over the horizon of what a traditional romantic relationship looks like. A study, in 2017 from Indiana University, found that 1 in 5 people have practiced some form of non-monogamy. We have multiple friends, multiple jobs, multiple hobbies, so what’s the difference when it comes to multiple partners, right? According to psychotherapist Rachel Wright, M.A., some people view non-monogamy as a lifestyle choice, whereas others experience it as an orientation or intrinsic part of their identity.
Non-monogamy in its most basic term is an approach to relationships wherein people can have more than one romantic and sexual partner at a time. Consensual non-monogamy (CNM), implies that everybody is aware of the arrangement, enthusiastically consents to the dynamic, and are being treated respectfully.
There are many types of non-monogamous relationships and each one can certainly shift and change in order to fit the needs of any couple or individual. Some couples who practice consensual non-monogamy do not subscribe to specific labels or types of non-monogamous relationships. There is no “one-size fits all” when it comes to approaching a consensual non-monogamous relationship. They simply make their own rules about what is and isn't acceptable for their individual relationship. It may involve one person exploring other connections outside of the relationship or it may involve both partners doing that. It may involve only sexual connections with others, or only emotional connections, or both sexual and emotional connections. There are numerous different ways to practice consensual non-monogamy, all of which involve open communication between all parties involved.
The bottom line here is that consent is extremely important. Psychotherapist Cheyenne Taylor, uses the three C’s: communication, consideration, and of course, consent to explain consensual non-monogamy. Consensual non-monogamy is based on the concept of using socially acceptable guidelines and motivated tools to cultivate a relationship built on the foundation of non-monogamy. Kelly Gonsalves from MindBodyGreen states that, "nothing is more important to a successful non-monogamous relationship than open communication”. However, monogamous or not, making sure you and your partner are on the same page about what you both want is important when starting a new relationship. You'll benefit from communicating everything, “from your long-term relationship goals to how you will handle the minutiae of everyday [CNM life …], and checking in regularly with your partner about how each of you are doing with your new relationship setup” (Gonsalves, mbg).
Overall, relationships are composed of whatever the people in them agree on, you don't have to stick to any preconceived rules of any existing relationship models that society has predetermined for us. There is so much freedom and creativity to explore what works best for you and your partner, whether it be monogamy or consensual non-monogamy.
Blog post written by Yasmine Ross, Certified Relationship Coach and Content Writer at An Elegant Mind Counselling in Vancouver