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What types of non-monogamous relationships exist? Is it OK to be polygamous or polyamorous? We’ve prepared detailed answers!

Some people think that we strive to spread our genes as actively as possible by nature. The more partners, the greater the genetic diversity and “sperm wars,” the stronger we are.

On the other hand, even for animals, it does not touch upon sex only. Pregnant females and offspring need to be taken care of, and there is a need for partner support: after all, someone must bring food and build a home. Some species stay together for a while, and some, such as swans, cannot live without each other.

As for people, it’s hard to say whether we are characterized by an innate tendency to polygamy or monogamy. After all, we are biosocial creatures.

Our desires and needs are a complex synergy of evolutionary tasks, natural temperament, emotional characteristics, cultural attitudes and personal principles.

In practice, monogamy can either suit you perfectly or can make you unhappy. Only you can choose how to build your relationships. Here are a few alternatives that you can try (of course, with the permission of other interested parties).

Types of non-monogamy relationships


In polygamy, one of the partners is in mutual relations with several ‘souls.’

Polygamous marriages, polygyny, in particular, are practiced in various cultures, such as Muslim, as well as in some African societies. Polyandry is far less common but also exists among national minorities that keep traditions — for example, the Tibetans of Nepal.

From adultery, in which one of the spouses has another relationship or a secret second family, polygamy is characterized by openness, public approval and regulation.

It is assumed that a man who is in a polygynous union will take care of his wives – no promiscuity in here. It would seem – a fairy tale. However, it has its other side – obligations. Many researchers consider wealth a prerequisite for polygamy.

As a rule, polygamy is closely connected with certain religious and national traditions of a particular society. Therefore, such type of relationships suits only those who feel their connection with a particular tradition. And it is usually about marriage. 

In the secular version, romantic and sexual relations with several people would rather be an open marriage or polyamory.

It is also important to note that classical polygamy involves an imbalance of opportunities. Someone alone, usually a man, has more rights. He may have several wives, while wives must be monogamous.


In modern Western culture, the romantic idea that everyone has their own soulmate is destined to be popular. And serial monogamy, consisting of the cycles “falling in love – exclusive relationships – parting,” becomes a way to find this soul mate. Moreover, a new love or a strong attraction to someone while being in a relationship usually means either the collapse of intimacy or living in a lie and suffering.

However, is it necessary to break up with a loved one if you have romantic feelings for someone else? Proponents of polyamory believe – not.

From the point of view of polyamory, it is completely legal to love more than one person. The main condition is transparency; that is, the consent and approval of all participants! Otherwise, it’s cheating. 

More than two people participate in polyamorous relations, but the relationship they have with each other depends on the particular case. For example, person A may be in a sexual and romantic relationship with persons B and C. Moreover, B and C know about each other, but there is nothing between them. Or it can be so that B and C have a connection with each other. Or there is a separate partner.

It’s difficult to list all the possibilities. The main principle is the awareness of all ‘participants’.

Open relationship

This is an alliance between two people who still are the couple, but at the same time, allow the possibility of sexual relations with others.

An open relationship differs from polyamory in that, in this case, you may not inform their other partners of all the details.

Another possible difference is the attitude towards romantic feelings. As a rule, the couple does not consider it possible to fall in love with someone else, otherwise, such relationships will already become polyamorous.

An open relationship can be established initially, even at the stage when two people begin to meet and discuss things that are important to them. Someone, on the contrary, decides to switch to this format after many years of monogamous marriage. This gives these couples the opportunity to get new sexual feelings without giving up their permanent partner or family. At the same time, two people continue to maintain priority emotional attachment to each other.

Friendship with privileges

It describes a situation that can also be described as “friendship sex”.

Such relationships simply do not contain a romantic component and do not imply the creation of a family. People just do the same thing as ordinary friends but have sex from time to time.

Such type of relationships is suitable for those who can separate sex and romantic feelings. However, they assume a certain risk: if one is more emotional than the other, the troubles will be inevitable.


Loneliness has a bad reputation, and many consider it their main fear. However, suffering from loneliness and being alone is not at all the same thing. You can feel unnecessary and not feel connected with another person both in marriage and with a bunch of sexual partners. While sologamy gives a lot of freedom for self-development, allowing you to do exactly what you want.

In this case, your personal space, material resources and time belong only to you. Sounds like utopia:)

So is it OK to be non-monogamy?

Sure! If you read attentively, you should have noticed that all those relationships are possible only in case of total outspokenness and frankness. In this case, nobody has the right to judge you.

But if you hook up with somebody who is not your beloved one and hide it, that is called adultery. Shame on you, dear!

So, yes, a monogamous relationship is not the only accessible option. But building harmonious relationships with even one person is not so simple. And starting them with several people at once is super crazy. Think over whether your inner (and financial) resources are enough for this.


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