It's a Guy Thing

The Rise of Consensual Non-monogamy

It’s an age-old debate… should we be monogamous? Couples, friends, peers and so on have debated this question for many years and people hold differing views on the answer and the reasons. 

If we take an evolutionary approach to understand this question, the answer is actually no. We’re not supposed to be monogamous. We needed to focus on the survival of the species (that’s us humans) and survival of the fittest. That meant cis-gender men reproducing with cis-gender women, not because of a relationship and commitment to be ‘exclusive’ and ‘til death do us part’, but purely to ensure that the human race kept going. But, from a social perspective, over time most societies around the world adopted monogamy. Most people ‘approve of’ only two people in a relationship, and disapprove of stepping outside of that ‘norm’. Even though there are still numerous cultures around the world that do not believe in monogamy, monogamy has become the ‘gold standard’ for relationships.

Nowadays though, it seems that there is a clear generational shift. What was once deemed completely ‘taboo’ in our grandparents’ generation is now becoming more and more common, and more and more accepted (even if we still have a long way to go). In a 2018 US study, it was found that 86% of respondents in the study felt that couples should be monogamous. Research also shows that those individuals who identify as gay, lesbian or bisexual are far more open to exploring non-monogamy than their heterosexual friends. We all still want safety and security from our partners… and this is no different in consensually non-monogamous relationships. 

The idea of consensual non-monogamy also calls into question the topic of sexual orientation, identity, and behavior. Sexual behavior is all about who you have sex with, so perhaps cis-gendered men for example. Sexual orientation is all about who you are attracted to. And sexual identity is all about whether you personally identify as heterosexual, gay, bi, queer and so on. You can identify as heterosexual, have sex with the opposite sex, but still find both the opposite and same-sex attractive. You can be in a heterosexual couple but still have sex with people of the same sex as you. 

Consensual non-monogamy is not something that should be taken as ‘easy’ or ‘simply for the fun of it’. It requires intense understanding, agreement, honesty and constant communication between partners. It requires that partners understand and agree upon the reasons for exploring a different type of relationship, and that all partners involved are aware of who’s in their relationship. Deception is not appreciated, and strongly avoided. Understanding your boundaries individually and together is paramount to the success of a non-monogamous relationship. Cheating is not a form of consensual non-monogamy, because this is deception and usually goes against an agreement that two people may have to be ‘exclusive’ to one another and commit to one another. 

So what types of consensual non-monogamy might people explore? It’s a broad term, but what it does signify is that everyone involved is aware of and in agreement of how the relationship dynamic works. Here are just a few types of relationships that are becoming more common in monogamous societies today: 


This type of relationship is when you have several individuals who are in a relationship with other partners, and all partners involved are consenting to the arrangement. Within the relationship, you might find that some partners have more sexual chemistry and others have more emotional connections. It’s not simply about sex, but more often about the love felt for more than one person.  

Trouple or Triad

A trouple or triad is a relationship involving 3 people. Sometimes, if one partner is ‘primary’ and in the center of the relationship (relationally engaged with two other but those others aren’t romantically engaged), they would be described as a ‘V’.  

Open Relationship

An open relationship is an agreed-upon and clearly defined relationship between two people, who openly seek sexual or emotional connection from others outside of the couple. Usually in an open relationship, both partners agree upon what’s acceptable or not, and how to manage the dynamic of connecting with others outside of their partnership.


Not to be confused with polyamory, this involves a man being married to more than one partner. It’s quite common in certain cultures in America, as well as others around the world. Having more than one wife is considered the norm in some religions too, such as certain observers of Islam or those who are Mormon.