Over time, I have gradually become slightly annoyed with people using the terms monogamy (implied ethics and consent) and non-monogamy (implied unethical so must be prefixed with consensual- or ethical-), as two directly opposing relationship dynamics.
I believe it’s time to upend this narrative, redefine the norm and see relationship dynamics as existing on a spectrum that includes single (by choice), monogamy, monogamish, mono-poly, open relationships, triads, quads, polycules, parallel poly, kitchen table poly, hierarchical and non-hierarchical poly, etc. etc.
Calling the practice of seeing multiple people in parallel, in whatever configuration, ethical non monogamy, basically implies that non-monogamy is unethical and therefore requires a qualifier. Ethics are anyway subjective and not universal, so this is not a very helpful qualifier. When most people only know of 2 dynamics (monogamy and cheating), it would make sense that you have to specify that an honest, transparent and consensual practice of non monogamy is in fact ethical. However as the spectrum of relationship dynamics becomes more accessible and well known, I feel that simply saying non-monogamy is sufficient and implies both ethics and consent. A step further would be to avoid defining the practice as what it is not (‘non-‘) and instead give it a neutral identifier, for example ‘Multigamy’. If ‘mono’ means 1 partner, ‘multi’ would be multiple partners.
Designer relationships can work for the people involved, and not need critique or opinion from those not involved.
Mono = one | Multi = many | Gamy = relationship (marriage, originally)
Multigamy is a positive term describing all multiple-relationship dynamics. It has no negative implication like ‘non-monogamy’. Ethics and consent are a given, as just like in monogamy, some people behaving unethically do not represent the entire community.
Multigamy can look like many things. It doesn’t even mean those involved are polyamorous. They may be monoamorous & polysexual (swinging, open relationship) for example. Here are some more common dynamics that fall under the umbrella of multigamy:
- Hierarchical polyamory
- Triad (or thrupple)
- Open relationship
- Egalitarian polyamory
- Quad and larger polycules
If someone asks if you practice ethical or consensual non-monogamy, you can ask them if they practice ethical-monogamy. They might rethink their assumptions.
I was interviewed on a podcast called Practicing Polyamory where I explain in more detail why I use Multigamy instead of non-monogamy.