Written by: Dr. Rachael Meir, Executive Contributor
Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.
When it comes to ethical non-monogamy, there’s no shortage of lively discussions. But perhaps, one that steals the spotlight more than the rest is the discourse around its intrinsic nature.
Is it an identity, an orientation, a lifestyle, a label for a type of relationship, or something entirely different? This question is at the heart of a complex and nuanced conversation within the ENM community, sparking diverse perspectives and reflections.
Let’s explore each one, starting with…
ENM as an identity
For some individuals, ethical non-monogamy is more than a relationship style; it's a core aspect of their identity. Much like one's gender identity or sexual orientation, ENM shapes how they perceive themselves and what they believe to be a fundamental part of their being. It's an integral component of who they are.
ENM as an orientation
Drawing parallels to sexual orientation, some argue that ENM can be considered a relational orientation. This perspective suggests that certain individuals are naturally inclined toward consensual non-monogamy, just as others are oriented toward monogamous relationships. It's a matter of who they are naturally drawn to in their love and relationships.
ENM as a lifestyle choice
Many consciously choose to embrace ethical non-monogamy as a lifestyle. They integrate this relationship style into their daily lives, guided by a set of values, ethics, and personal beliefs. For them, ENM is not merely a relationship choice; it's a way of living in alignment with their principles. However, for others, it's a dynamic choice, a relationship style they engage in at specific points in their lives, flexibly adapting to their desires and circumstances, even opting for monogamy when it suits them.
ENM as a philosophy
Ethical non-monogamy can also be seen as a philosophical approach to relationships. Guided by principles such as honesty, consent, and open communication, it emphasizes the ethical and moral foundations of non-monogamous relationships. It's a way of approaching love and connection with a strong ethical compass.
ENM as a form of sexual expression
For some, ethical non-monogamy primarily serves as a form of sexual expression, offering a platform to explore different facets of their sexuality within the boundaries of consent and communication. It's a channel for sexual self-discovery and fulfillment.
ENM as a community or subculture
ENM isn't just a relationship style; it's a vibrant community and subculture. Those who consider themselves part of this community actively engage in events, gatherings, or online forums to connect with like-minded individuals, share experiences, and find support within a network that understands the intricacies of their relationships.
ENM as a social movement
Some argue that ethical non-monogamy should be seen as a social movement working toward changing societal norms and stigmas around non-monogamous relationships. By doing so, it contributes to a broader social transformation, promoting acceptance and understanding.
ENM as an ongoing journey
For many, ethical non-monogamy represents an ongoing journey of self-discovery, self-improvement, and relationship growth. It's not just a fixed relationship style but a continuous process of learning and adapting to different situations and partners, constantly evolving and expanding.
Ethical non-monogamy means different things to different people
It becomes clear that there is no one-size-fits all perspective on ethical non-monogamy. Each viewpoint represents a unique facet of this colorful world, offering you the freedom to navigate ethical non-monogamy in your own unique way.
What resonates with you? How do you personally view ENM in the context of your life and relationships?
Feel free to share your thoughts on this topic, or connect with me if you have any questions or want to delve deeper into the world of ethical non-monogamy.
It's your journey, your choices, and your exploration. Until next time!
Dr. Rachael Meir, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine
Dr. Rachael Meir is a Stanford-trained psychologist and Contemporary Relationship Clini-Coach® who specializes in ethical/consensual non-monogamy (including swinging, open relationships, polyamory, and other alternative lifestyles) and is sex-positive, LGBTQIA+ affirming, and BDSM/kink aware. As a bisexual woman in a polyamorous triad relationship herself, Dr. Meir is dedicated to helping individuals navigate the challenges of opening their relationships and sustaining multiple sexual and romantic partnerships. With extensive experience working with a wide range of clients, she has a deep understanding of the unique challenges faced by those living outside the bounds of heteronormative sexual orientations and monogamous relationship structures. She offers individual and group coaching to help clients learn the necessary skills to create secure and healthy relationships that work best for them.