Written By: Tina Suppi MS, CSC, ABS
What is Consensual Non-Monogamy? Consensual Non-Monogamy (CNM) is an umbrella term for people who are in a relationship and they give consent to engage in romantic, intimate, and/or sexual relationships with multiple people. These are consensual relationships, not to be confused with infidelity.
There is an increasing interest in Consensual Non-Monogamy, with 1 in 5 people having been in one before. This type of relationship takes on a range of forms, including swinging, polyamory ,open relationships, polygamy, and more. Consensual Non-Monogamy (CNM) relationships are seen as a relationship style in which all partners openly agree to the possibility of having more than one sexual and/or romantic relationship at a time.Non-monogamy has been around for millions of years, yet it is still seen as a taboo. So why does it seem that we are just now seeing or hearing a lot more about CNM? This may be because technology and social media has enlightened people about the life of CNM. Society has taught us that monogamy is the only way to have a relationship however, monogamy is not cut out for everyone.
Some view Consensual non-monogamy as cheating. What is cheating or infidelity? Cheating is the act of being unfaithful to a spouse or partner without consent. When people are in a Consensual Non-Monogamous relationship everyone involved is aware of the dynamics of the relationship and everyone gives consent. Consent and communication are very important in all relationships including CNM.
So, why do individuals choose to be in a consensual non-Monogamy relationship? One reason people say is that is difficult to have one partner who meets all of their needs, sexually and emotionally. People have also said that they felt that multi-partner relationships allowed the opportunity to explore different things such as kinks and queer identities, it offers more sexual fun and adventure. Some people also see Consensual non-monogamous relationships as an opportunity to broaden their sense of self and to experience more variety in non-sexual activities. This is a way to reduce pressure on any one given partner. Let’s say that a person is in a monogamous relationship, and they really love their partner however they are into kink and their partner is not. This can lead to a very unhappy and unsatisfied relationship. However, if the couple discusses having an open relationship and both agree to it then they can end up being satisfied not just sexually but it can also bring them closer together emotionally.
A question that people have is how can someone love more than one person? Humans are capable of loving multiple people, they do it every day. We love our parents, friends, and children. Here is an example, when a person has a child, they love that child. When they have more children, they do not take the love away from the first child and spread it out amongst the other children, they love them all the same. This is just like a CNM, love is the same with everyone and everyone is valued for what they bring to the relationship.
People who engage in Consensual Non-Monogamy do so for many different reasons. While sex is one of the reasons people engage in CNM it is not the only reason. People have stated that it is also about being true to oneself and being psychologically satisfied. Whether you choose a monogamous or non-monogamous the key for a successful relationship making sure there is communication and consent.