There are many ways to structure a non-monogamous relationship. Polyamorous, solo-poly, monogamish – these labels represent just a handful of ways to be with other human beings and are used differently depending on who you talk to. The beauty of exploring relationship types is that we get to be intentional about what feels aligned with not only who we’ve been, but who we are now and are soon to become.
Eight years ago, my partner and I began dating, and we found many traditional relationship structures did not appeal to us nor reflect us. While that was sometimes challenging, it allowed me to reimagine what my relationships could be like outside of traditional boxes. It gave me the space to look within and evaluate how I wanted to love and be loved vs. how I felt I should. This was liberating.
Today, we have more vocabulary and tools than ever before for this kind of exploration. If someone is interested in non-monogamy, I encourage them to look inward at what kind of romantic relationship appeals to them and look around at how other people navigate non-monogamy.
What is non-monogamy, really?
People sometimes mistake the term non-monogamy as interchangeable with polyamory when, in reality, non-monogamy is an umbrella term used to describe a variety of relationships in which people mutually agree that they are not exclusive with each other.
There are many ways to explore non-exclusivity. Some people choose polyamory – having intimate relationships with more than one person simultaneously. Others may form a “polycule” – multiple relationships at once that may or may not overlap. As you explore relationship types, there is an opportunity to pay attention to which structures feel aligned with your vision and where you currently are in your life.
Okay, but, how do I bring this up with a potential partner?
Talk to potential dates openly about your relationship desires. Seeing someone be emotionally vulnerable and upfront about their hopes and struggles often makes us feel more comfortable revealing ours.
Hinge recently found that daters rank emotional vulnerability in a partner higher than other traditional traits such as attractiveness, income, or height. In fact, a majority (93%) of Hinge daters prefer to date someone who’s emotionally vulnerable.
Try asking a question like, “I am interested in exploring non-monogamous relationships with the people I date. Do you have any experience or interest in non-monogamy?” While this might feel intimidating, being upfront and open with your relationship hopes will encourage a conversation. You might find others are also curious or have something helpful to offer from their experiences.
Alternatively, there are dating apps, like Hinge, that enable you to identify on your profile whether you’re interested in monogamy, non-monogamy, or still figuring it out. Additionally, there is a “backstory” section where you can share more details in your own words, making your intentions clear before you even agree to a first date.
How do I navigate dating while trying to figure out what works best for me?
Learning new things about ourselves through relationships with others is common. Just like with monogamous relationships, over time, you may make adjustments to how your relationship is structured depending on where you are in your life. The most important thing to remember is to communicate your desires as they shift and remain open and honest about anything you learn about yourself. This could look like laying out communication expectations about new partners or dates or setting up times to check how things are going.
Dating doesn’t come with an instruction manual, so it’s up to the individual to explore what works for their lifestyle and affords them the freedom to love in a fulfilling way.
Moe Ari Brown, Hinge’s first-ever Love and Connection Expert, is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and one of the leading mental health experts in the realm of Transgender Identity. Since graduating from Northwestern University with an MS in Marriage and Family Therapy, Moe has spent the past decade working with LGBTQIA+ individuals, couples, and families on their journey to love their authentic selves and establish meaningful connections, in addition to being a Diversity & Equity Consultant and former Adjunct Professor at Adler University.