Ethical Non-Monogamy Vs. Polyamory: What's The Difference?

Relationship styles, like anything else in this world, are never one size fits all. When it comes to romantic relationships, especially, there are quite a few options on how to conduct your partnership based on the boundaries of everyone involved. A popular relationship style is called monogamy, which is when two people date each other exclusively. This could be amazing for those who only want to be involved intimately with one person for a long-term relationship. However, monogamy may not be the best option for you.


Over recent years, there has been a spotlight on other relationship styles, especially surrounding ethical non-monogamy and polyamory. Both have been around for years before their popularization and allow people to date more than one person at a time. There are plenty of ways to get into these types of relationships, including downloading dating apps for people who are non-monogamous as well as discussing the idea of opening your relationship up with your partner. Before jumping into the dating scene, it's important to understand the difference between polyamory and non-monogamy to discover what is best for you.

Ethical non-monogamy is the big picture

When it comes to ethical non-monogamy, there is a key difference between that and a polyamorous relationship. According to Psych Central, ethical non-monogamy allows you to have sexual and emotional relationships with whomever you choose (as long as they choose you back). Everyone involved is completely aware that this is what you choose to do and are completely okay with it. Ethical non-monogamy can be practiced in many ways, including polyamory. However, there are other ways to be ethically non-monogamous.


At the end of the day, ethical non-monogamy is an encompassing term that can also be applied to swingers, open relationships, casual dating, and more. As long as everyone is aware of how you are dating, it can be considered ethically non-monogamous. If consent is not given freely, it is no longer ethical and can be considered infidelity or cheating. The key is communication in order to have these relationships with as many people as you choose. Ultimately, all polyamorous relationships can be considered ethical non-monogamy, but not all ethical non-monogamous relationships are polyamorous.

How to practice polyamory

Entering a polyamorous relationship means you are entering a relationship with more than one person. According to WebMD, like ethical non-monogamy, it is completely consensual between all parties involved. This means that everyone in this relationship understands the individual boundaries and completely agrees with them. Infidelity can occur if one of the partners breaks those boundaries. Polyamorous partners can either be emotional or sexual partners and do not even have to have a specific sexual orientation.


There are many different forms of polyamory that could take place within a relationship. If you already have a primary partner, hierarchal polyamory allows someone to prioritize their main partner while also having other partners in one relationship. If you don't have a partner already, WebMD explains you can consider yourself a solo polyamorous person, who dates multiple people at once. Polyamory allows more than one way to create intimacy with people and could be a great option for those who don't believe in monogamy.