Having lived in a non-monogamous community for two months in San Francisco, I got a glimpse of what it was like to have multiple partners from those I lived with.

Types of relationships constituting non-monogamy include consensual polygamy, polyamory and polyandry. Polygamy is the custom or practice of having more than one wife at a time. Polyamory is the capacity to love more than one person simultaneously. It differs from polygamy because it is not based on gender or religion. Meanwhile, polyandry is where one woman has more than one husband.

If you’re thinking of entering a relationship like this, you have to find the following conditions acceptable:


High levels of openness are important to a non-monogamous relationship. You should be as transparent as you expect your partner to be. This may mean discussing boundaries as to how much to disclose about your other relationships.


This is crucial in both monogamous and non-monogamous relationships. It’s the foundation on which everything rests.

This refers to believing in your partner or partners to be honest with you and your affording them the same honesty.


This means not being possessive over your significant other’s time, body or resources. Jealousy stems from fear-based behaviour which you can work through with a therapist or counsellor.

This is not to say the green-eyed monster won’t ever rear its head; it just means that you are able to tame it, keep it under control. It is important that your reactions to situations will not have a negative impact on yourself or anyone else involved.


Both parties need to consent to the additional relationship. Without your partner’s consent, it’s deceptive and lacking in honesty and, therefore, trust. Discussing boundaries as to what your partner may or may not do with others, as well as knowing and understanding each other’s expectations, is part of this. Everyone must be fully aware of what is going on and agree to it.


Effective communication is shoved down our throats as a tool for good relationships for one reason ... it makes things work. In non-monogamous relationships, everything should be discussed thoroughly.

Should you wish to bring someone new into the relationship, you should communicate it before acting on it. Discuss the reason for a new addition and let your partner have their say. Come up with an acceptable compromise.

It’s not always necessarily about bringing another addition into the mix; sometimes a primary couple will engage in single or brief sexual liaisons with others. But it should be with the consent of everyone involved. If it’s not consented to, then it is cheating. No two open relationships will be the same, because the parties involved in each are different. Negotiating the details of an open relationship is a continual process.

And it goes without saying that protection in the form of a condom should be non-negotiable.

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