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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Nonmonogamy is a blanket term covering several different types of interpersonal relationships in which some or all participants have multiple marital, sexual, and/or romantic partners. This can be contrasted with its opposite, monogamy, and yet may arise from the same psychology. The term has been criticized as it implies that monogamy is the norm and that any other way of relating is somehow a deviation of that norm.

Forms of nonmonogamy include:

  • casual relationship a physical and emotional relationship between two unmarried people who may have a sexual relationship
  • group marriage (also termed polygynandry), in which several people form a single family unit, with all considered to be married to one another
  • group sex and orgies involving more than two participants at the same time
  • infidelity, such as an affair, in which one participant fails to comply with expectations of a relationship.
  • Line families, a form of group marriage intended to outlive its original members by ongoing addition of new spouses
  • ménage à trois, a sexual (or sometimes domestic) arrangement involving three people
  • polyamory, in which participants have multiple romantic partners
  • PolyFamilies, similar to group marriage, but some members may not consider themselves married to all other members
  • polyfidelity, in which participants have multiple partners but restrict sexual activity to within a certain group
  • polygamy, in which one person in a relationship has multiple partners
  • open marriage and open relationships, in which one or both members of a committed couple may become sexually active with other partners
  • swinging, similar to open relationships, but commonly conducted as an organised social activity

As can be seen from this list, the Greek prefix 'poly-' (meaning 'many') is often used in naming nonmonogamous forms of relationship. In informal use such names are sometimes abbreviated to just 'poly', with the rest indicated by context.

Many nonmonogamous terms are flexible in definition, because they are based on criteria such as 'relationship' or 'love' that are themselves variably defined; see discussions at their respective pages for more detail on individual forms. In addition, usage creates distinctions beyond the raw definitions of the words. Thus, even though some relationships might technically be considered both polygamous and polyamorous, 'polygamy' usually signifies a codified form of multiple marriage, based on established religious teachings, while 'polyamory' is based on the preferences of the participants rather than social custom or established precedent.

See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Non-monogamy" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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