Nonmonogamy is not just one thing. There are many types and flavors, some of which I like, some of which I don’t like but I know work well for other people, and some of which I don’t recommend at all.
In my books, I have covered various forms of nonmonogamy, but I have never actually presented a comprehensive list. I will do that for you to today.
With monogamy, you have essentially two types: serial monogamy (or temporary monogamy) which is monogamy that is not really expected to last longer than about three years, and long-term monogamy, what I call Disney monogamy, which is monogamy that is expected to last a very long time, anywhere from beyond three years to “forever.”
Nonmonogamy is very different. The types of nonmonogamy are so numerous and varied that they are radically different from each other, and appeal to radically different types of people. For example, I think open relationships are great, polyamory is good, but I would never be a swinger, and if I was a polygamist with multiple wives I’d probably kill myself. And I’m sure you could find a million people who believe the literal opposite of what I just said.
Once you reach the point where you emotionally accept that monogamy doesn’t work (it’s easy to reach that conclusion logically, but getting your emotions, Societal Programming, and Obsolete Biological Wiring to acknowledge it is the hard part) it then becomes your job to identify which type of nonmonogamy is long-term conducive and most compatible with your personality. (Or, if you’re a recovering Alpha Male 1.0, which form of nonmonogamy will irritate you the least.)
To help you out with that, here is every form of nonmonogamy I am aware of; as comprehensive of a list as I can give you.
Threesome-Only Relationship: This means that you are only allowed to have sex with other women when it’s in a threesome with your GF/wife. It’s essentially monogamy, to the point where it’s been called “kinky monogamy” or “monogamish.”
I don’t actually consider this nonmonogamy, since as soon as your GF/wife doesn’t want threesomes anymore (something that is 100% guaranteed to happen if the relationship lasts long enough), it suddenly becomes monogamy. Therefore, I do not recommend threesome-only relationships and I have never seen them work out well in the long-term. It usually just turns into monogamy (and you know where things go from there).
Fuck Buddies / Friends With Benefits / FB’s: This is, obviously, when you’re having sex with two or more recurring women in a very casual, friendly, nonromantic relationship. There are no rules, no structure, and no dating, just friendship and sex.
Obviously I’m a huge proponent of FB’s and I think every man should have at least one or two. I have several myself, and always will.
Swinging: This is when you and your GF/wife, as a couple, have sex with other couples. You going out and having sex with women independently of your wife is not allowed (and if it is, I don’t consider it swinging). Going to sex clubs, swinging clubs, and sex parties is common with swinger couples.
Swinging is not my thing. I have never done it and have no interest. Having sex with some dude’s wife while my wife gets fucked by him is fine I guess, but its not something that turns me on. That being said, I have personally known a decent number of couples who are swingers and who really, really like it. Some of the happiest long-term couples I’ve ever met were swingers, including within my extended family.
The danger of swinging is that it has the potential to become monogamy (what happens when your GF/wife doesn’t want to swing anymore?) but unlike with threesome-only relationships, if the man stays Alpha, he can convert the swinging relationship into an OLTR or similar (whereas this is almost impossible in a threesome-only relationship).
Polyamory: This is when you are with at least two women in close, romantic, MLTR relationships, and these women are also dating other men in MLTR’s at the same time. Maybe you even all know each other, or maybe you don’t.
I think polyamory is great, though I’ve only done it a handful of times. The downfall of this system is that the potential for drama and jealousy is a little high, but if you use the relationship techniques I describe in my Ultimate Open Relationships Manual, you’ll be just fine.
Polyfidelity or Polyexclusivity: This is just like polyamory except that the group dating each other all commit to exclusivity within the group. An example would be two men and four women all dating each other as MLTR’s who commit to only have sex with people within the group and no one else. This is often done to keep things manageable, increase emotional connection, reduce possible drama and jealousy, and reduce the odds of STD’s.
I think this system is fine as long as there’s a large enough group of women to handle the inevitable LSFNTE’s that will occur. While my Alpha Male 2.0 love of freedom would personally make me a little uncomfortable with this kind of arrangement (I should be able to fuck whomever I want), I have no overall objection to it, and know several people who have done it and enjoy it.
MLTR’s: You already know what this is if you’re familiar with my content. This is when you’re dating and having sex with a woman in a romantic, emotional context, but you are allowed to get romantic and emotional (and sexual) with other women as well. It’s romantic, but not exclusive in any way and you can do literally whatever you want when she’s not around.
Obviously I love MLTR’s, have had many over the last ten years, and highly recommend them to all men who don’t have an OLTR (unless you just want casual sex, then stick with FB’s, which is also fine).
High-End MLTR: This is when you have multiple MLTR’s, but one of them is by far your favorite, and almost a girlfriend but not quite. It’s still not exclusive in any way, but you can do a few things with her you can’t do with other MLTR’s, such as meet her family members, use the term “boyfriend” and “girlfriend,” and a few other things.
High-End MLTR’s are only for guys with a decent amount of nonmonogamous relationship experience. For those guys, they’re great. I’ve had several of them and they were all wonderful.
Open Relationship or OLTR: This is a serious girlfriend relationship where you are sexually open, but emotionally exclusive. You can have sex with other women, but you can’t date or have romantic feelings for other women, and the same applies to her and men. This means that all the women on the side must be FB’s, one night stands, or similar.
The upside of the OLTR is that unlike most other forms of monogamy, it’s true pair-bonding, which is what most men crave, particularly as they get over age 35. The downside is that much like polyfidelity or swinging, you’ve made some commitments to your special lady and therefore some restrictions on your freedom; you can’t just run around and do whatever you want like you can with MLTR’s.
Obviously I think OLTR’s are great, but they are only for older and more experienced men, as I talked about in detail here. Younger men attempting them is rarely a good idea.
Polyexclusive OLTR: This is an OLTR where you’ve promised to only have side-sex with a few certain individual women (FB’s) that your OLTR is aware of and approves of. The same applies to her; if she wants to have sex with other men, she can only do so with specific, individual men you approve of, and no one else (other than you of course).
This kind of thing is fine for older men or men with lower sex drives. It’s acceptable only if you build into the system a way to get new women if one of your current FB’s leaves, which they will. A lot of men who attempt polyexclusive OLTR’s forget about this. Their OLTR allows them to fuck Ashley and Suzi, which is great for a while, but when Ashley moves away and Suzi gets married and monogamous, then you’re screwed, so you need to account for this.
OLTR Marriage: This is when you are de facto married to your OLTR, regardless if the marriage is legal or not. You both live together as husband and wife and are working towards a very long-term or even forever marriage. You are allowed to have sex with FB’s on the side as usual, and your finances are 100% protected and legally separate from hers in legally enforceable ways in case of a dispute or divorce/breakup. Having children is allowed as well.
I have an OLTR marriage myself, so obviously I am a huge proponent of OLTR marriage for men over age 35 who’ve been around the block and wish to settle down. With its sexual and financial protections, it is literally the only safe form of marriage in the Western world today.
Polygamy: This is when a man is married to multiple wives (legal or not). The wives can only have sex with him, he can have sex with the wives, and is technically not allowed to have sex with anyone else (though, being a man, he might cheat). While this sounds like a man’s dream come true, in the real world, polygamy is always marked with constant, never-ending drama, one-upmanship, and infighting. As I’ve said before, one traditional wife is bad enough… do you really want three?
Polygamy does not work in the Western world at all, and only works in certain regions of Africa and the Middle East (and it’s a cluster fuck over there too). Also, wives in polygamous relationships tend to be average-looking or ugly (though often, the men in these relationships don’t care).
If your goal in life is to crank out 20 children and you have a lot of money and you don’t mind constant drama in your life, then I guess go ahead with polygamy if you live in a region where you can pull it off. Otherwise, stay the hell away.
Beta Polygamy or Polyandry: This is often misidentified as “polyamory” when it’s nothing of the sort. This is when one Dominant woman has two or three pathetic beta boyfriends. She fucks them (sometimes), and they’re only allowed to have sex with her. These weird relationships are often used as examples in the more right-wing, pro-monogamy corners of the manosphere as “See? Polyamory is for betas!” Again, it’s not polyamory, but a form of polygamy where the woman has multiple husbands/boyfriends instead of the man doing it.
Mediterranean Marriage: This is a de facto open marriage where the man marries a woman while lying to her and pretending to be monogamous, then spends the rest of the marriage cheating on her. The woman knows the man cheats, hates it, screams at him about it constantly, but stays married to him anyway for family, financial, or religious reasons.
Mediterranean marriages are fucking nightmares from hell, and I literally don’t understand why these Alpha Male 1.0’s do it. I do not recommend them at all unless you love drama or you’re Hispanic (those Hispanics love these fucking things; don’t ask me why).
Sexless OLTR Marriage: This is when a man is married to a woman who has permanently turned off her sexual being, so she no longer has sex with him, nor anyone else. Because of this, the man is allowed to have sexual relationships with women outside of the marriage. The woman stays with the man because of the kids, or for religious or financial reasons. These sometimes can become weird MLTR-OLTR hybrids, where the man has full-on “girlfriends” on the side who are considered more than just FB’s, since the man literally can’t have sex with his wife.
I’ve seen a handful of these marriages and they can work if the man is a strong, capable Alpha and the woman is reasonably low-drama. Otherwise these marriages often crumble, particularly when the last kid moves out of the home.
That’s it, every form of nonmonogamy actually practiced in the real world. There are a few other types of nonmonogamy that are theoretical and/or fantastical, but I don’t include those. (I will be happy to edit this article and include any other forms of real-world nonmonogamy that I’ve forgotten, if any.)