What is Ethical Non-Monogamy?

And Why Caution Should be Used with the Term

Krys Ghislaine


Ethical Non-Monogamy (Photo by E)

When I embarked on my first open relationship, over a decade ago, I had no clue what I was doing or how to navigate it. Nothing about what went on that first year would be considered ethical by anyone’s standards. There was zero foundation in my primary relationship, so every single mistake in the book was made on both of our parts. Lying, cheating, infidelity, hiding things, not knowing how to discuss feelings, breaches of trust, time, and well the list could go on endlessly. In short, everything I hold dear about the meaning of the word ethics was missing. In fact, even something as simple as having a safe sex conversation was foreign to me. Wearing condoms was the only hard and fast rule, which as I now know, doesn’t even scratch the surface of what could and should be discussed.

Hindsight is always 20/20, and the glaring issue that I kept trying to ignore was that my growing passion to incorporate the word ethical into my relationship was not nearly as simple as just deciding that I wanted it to be that way. But let us back up a little and start at the beginning, what is ethical non-monogamy?

Defining Ethical Non-monogamy

First, let us break this down into two parts

Ethicalbeliefs about what is morally right and wrong or pertaining to or dealing with morals or the principles of morality; pertaining to right and wrong in conduct. being in accordance with the rules or standards for right conduct or practice, especially the standards of a profession: It was not considered ethical for physicians to advertise. The Google

Without realizing why, the word ethical gets tagged onto the front of non-monogamous relationships, and I admit freely that I use it myself. But, if you look at the Cambridge definition above, there is an issue, because the word “belief” is in there. And as we all know, belief is not a universal constant, just look at how many deities or gods exist globally. Belief is personal, and subject to individual interpretation. So, as you might well imagine, when belief is involved there is going to be some diversity with regards to the definition.