Do You Know the Seven Types of Non-Monogamy?

Do You Know the Seven Types of Non-Monogamy?

Last update: 13 August, 2019

Who said that relationships are only built between two people? Many people have discovered that monogamy isn’t the only option. Thus, terms like ‘relational orientation’ have emerged. It means that just as people are attracted to a certain gender (or genders), we also have a preference for the type of relationship we like the most. Recently, more and more people are practicing one of many types of non-monogamy.

If you’re a person who’s discovering your relational orientation, this article will help you out. Here, you’ll discover the seven  types of non-monogamy that exist. By studying them, you can discover if any of them are right for you.

The seven types of non-monogamy

Surely you’ve had monogamous relationships. Think about them for a moment. Reflect on how you felt (or feel) within these relationships. Maybe you feel that those relationships don’t fit who you are. Therefore, maybe it’s time to rethink the way you experience love.

Non-monogamy is a good alternative if you don't like monogamous relationships.

Below, you’ll see the seven main types of non-monogamy that exist. Of course, there are many more ways to have an open relationship. However, most people who practice non-monogamy do so in one of these ways.


Swinging is when a monogamous couple engages in sexual activities with others. The main difference between it and the other seven types of non-monogamy is that the members of the relationship can only have sex with someone new if their partner is present.

Liberal couple

Some people have a high sexual desire and many sexual fantasies. In general, people who define themselves as ‘liberal’ don’t have established rules regarding how and when they can have sex with others. On the contrary, they talk about their feelings with their partner as they arise.

Some people who practice liberal relationships participate in group sex or exchange partners. Others, on the other hand, are only open to chance encounters if they happen spontaneously.

No sexual exclusivity

Some people want to have sex with different partners. However, instead of deceiving their partner, they want to do so in a consensual manner and communicate all their intentions and actions. This is the case of a non-sexual exclusivity relationship.


Polyamory is different than the above because those who practice it are trying to have several real partners. Therefore, those who choose polyamory consider themselves capable of falling in love with more than one person.

In polyamory, it’s very important to maintain good communication and express emotions.

Find out if nonomongamy is right for you.

Hierarchical polyamory

Hierarchical polyamory is a type of non-monogamous relationship in which there are several stable couples. But some of them are more important than the others. So, there are usually primary couples, secondary couples, and even tertiary couples.

Non-hierarchical polyamory

For other people, however, talking about a hierarchy goes against the very idea of polyamory. Consequently, its advocates consider that they can love all their partners equally. Of course, this would imply that no one would have any kind of privilege over the other members of the multiple relationships.

Relational anarchy

Finally, some people prefer to enjoy relationships without labeling them. Practitioners of relational anarchy believe that rules within a relationship only cloud the affective bond.

Is any one of these right for you?

Human beings have the ability to think, question, discuss, and compare. Therefore, it’s important to use our mental capacities to ask ourselves how we would like to live our relationships. If you think that non-monogamy could be right for you, ask yourself the following questions:

Questions that may help you decide if non-monogamy is right for you

  • How do you feel about the monogamous relationships you’ve had?
  • Do you feel overwhelmed by thinking that you’ll only have one loving-sexual relationship with just one person?
  • Do you think that it’s not ‘natural’ to love and relate exclusively to a single partner?
  • Have you asked your monogamous partner for a timeout because you felt overwhelmed?
  • Do you feel or have you felt sexual and emotional attraction towards other people while being in a relationship?
  • Do you think you lack something in a monogamous relationship?
  • Have you been unfaithful on more than one occasion? How does it make you feel?
  • Do you feel identified with people who talk about any of the seven types of non-monogamy?
  • Have you left monogamous relationships and started others in a short time?
  • How would you feel if you could have different relationships and share experiences and knowledge with several people?
  • Are you relieved to think that you can be with more than one partner at the same time?

If you answered ‘yes’ to most of these questions, chances are that monogamous relationships aren’t meeting your needs. The good news is that we live in a time when we can choose. It’s not about deciding which is the best type of relationship, but about which one fits you best.

Some necessary clarification about non-monogamy

As it happens in many aspects of life, the society in which we live in has some beliefs about different realities. Because Western culture is built on monogamy, many people may still have  some misconceptions about relationships that aren’t based on monogamy.

Here are some clarifications on non-monogamy:

  • According to many studies, human beings aren’t monogamous by nature.
  • People who don’t choose monogamy aren’t more dissatisfied, more neurotic, more promiscuous, nor more dysfunctional than monogamous people.
  • Non-monogamy isn’t a way to avoid compromise.
  • Having open relationships doesn’t imply that you’re confused or undecided.
  • Young or inexperienced people aren’t the only ones who have open relationships.

Opening your mind to the existence of these seven types of non-monogamy can help you find the relationship model that works best for you.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.