Ethical non monogamy (ENM), also known as Consensual non monogamy (CNM,) has over the years become much more prominent in the United States and the UK. In fact, according to CBSNews.com, around 4%-5% of relationships in the US practice ENM, and around that same number exists in Canada and the UK.
Unfortunately, not all of these ENM relationships feel free discuss their ENM relationships with others due to the stigma that still surrounds ENM and polyamorous relationships. This stigma is so deep rooted in our society that is almost second nature to hide the details of our ENM relationships from those close to us.
We couldn’t find any data surrounding the idea, but we assume that there is not a tremendous amount of ENM and poly relationships that are open and honest about the particulars of the relationship with everyone around them, even though its likely that these ENM relationships do exist in the wild.
So why are so scared to expose the details about why we engage in and enjoy ethical non monogamy?
Expressing Sexual and Emotional Variety
For most of us, we grew up in a social structure that ingrained into us that practicing monogamy is how you express your devotion and love for your partner. We are taught that from the moment that you start dating, that it is an unspoken rule that you are only to engage in sexual and emotional intimacy with the person you are dating, and if you fail to follow this rule to the letter, you have committed and act of betrayal.
Sure, there are many instances where a person may not even be attracted to other people while in a relationship just due to how much they love and respect their partner. However, if we are to fast forward 10 years, and ask the same question, it seems likely that feelings of attraction to others outside of the relationship are likely to become more prevalent.
Sexual health, as defined by World Health Organization (WHO), is defined as:
- a state of well-being physically, emotionally, mentally, and socially, in regard to sexuality
- a positive, respectful approach to sexual relationships and sexuality
- having the possibility of safe, pleasurable sexual experiences
- respect, protection, and fulfillment of the sexual rights of all people involved
When someone begins to have emotional and sexual desires outside of a committed monogamous relationship and chooses to repress those feelings in an attempt to honor their partner, they run the risk of that repression showing itself in other ways that cannot be predicted. Repressing feelings is not creating a positive and respectful approach to sexuality.
Communicating Your Sexual Desires
Even if the idea of ENM/CNM is not likely in your relationship, these feelings of attraction to others should not be buried. There are many ways that these feelings can be expressed in a healthy manner, and the number one way is to talk about them. If speaking with your partner is off the table due to the risk of hurting them, there are other ways to process the feelings without “cheating.”
Processing feelings with a therapist is a great way to work through the emotions and desire in a constructive way. There are even many online resources that can provide you with the tools that you will need to be able to have a conversation with your partner in a way that will avoid creating feelings of jealousy and inadequacies, such as the resources offered by Leah Spasova at www.lifesexperts.com.