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  psych bytes

May 2011

Monogamy and Non- Monogamy
Carl H. Shubs, Ph.D.

Relationships come in many formats.  Among them are:

1) monogamy
2) open relationships
3) cheating
4) dating around
5) polyamorous relationships
6) polyfidelity (bisexual, and being monogamous within each gender)
7) swinging

This is not a complete list, and these types of relationships are not presented here in any particular order.  They are all different from each other.  Sometimes people use the terms to blur the boundaries, such as looking at anything other than monogamy as “cheating.”  People can also use non-monogamy terms as a way to criticize and judge others, as if there’s only one kind of relationship and anything else is bad and wrong.  It might not be for you, but it will help in your relationships if you can be clear about what terms you are using, what you want and don’t want, and why you want that particular kind of relationship.  It also helps if you can be clear with yourself and your partner about what crosses your boundaries – what you might not like but can put up with and what you don’t want and can’t accept.  The issue here is not only what you do or don’t like/want but why that’s so for you. Discussing these things with your partner can open up worlds of intimacy as you reveal more about yourself and learn more about your partner.

Here’s a map ( that may help you to learn about different terminologies, understand the terms better, and think about what you do and don’t want for yourself.  I didn’t create the map, some people might define or describe those words differently, and there are things on their site that I might disagree with, but the diagram and learning about these terms may help you to understand some of the different terms so you can see what would and wouldn’t work for you.  There are no right or wrong answers here.  It’s all about what’s right or wrong for you in your relationship with your partner.

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