Ethical non-monogamy is on the rise. A 2016 poll found that 17% of people under 45 had engaged in sexual activity with someone else while in a relationship, with the knowledge of their partner. Even more were open to some form of non-monogamy. When asked to place themselves on a spectrum of completely monogamous to completely polyamorous, only about half — 51% of those under 30 and 58% of those 30-44 — said their ideal relationship would be completely monogamous.
As polyamory is seen more and more in pop culture — polyamorous characters have popped up everywhere from Broad City to Steven Universe — it makes sense that many people are interested in exploring non-monogamy. First, let's be clear what we're talking about. Polyamory is typically defined as being in multiple romantic relationships at the same time, with everyone knowing and consenting. Ethical non-monogamy is an umbrella term that encompasses a lot more — polyamory, as well as swinging, having threesomes, and having occasional casual sex outside a relationship (which Dan Savage calls “monogamish”). In other words, ethical non-monogamy is anything outside of a monogamous relationship, with everyone involved knowing and consenting. (That's where the "ethical" part comes in.) Both polyamory and ethical non-monogamy are adjustable to what you and your partner want — the most important thing is to talk about it.
In recent years, some mainstream dating apps have made tweaks to be more welcoming to polyamorous couples. In 2016, OkCupid added a feature allowing people who list themselves as “in an open relationship,” “married,” or “seeing someone” to link their profiles to their primary partner’s. Other apps, such as Feeld, have been developed with non-monogamy in mind.
“Just like with any dating app, my recommendations are to put your best foot forward,” says CalExotics’ resident sexologist Dr. Jill McDevitt. “Don't forget there's a human on the other end of the screen. Be honest in your bio. Say what you're looking for, not what you're NOT looking for. Be honest. Be kind. Don't get overzealous with swiping, because there won't be a perfect person waiting there.”
If you’re practicing non-monogamy, or if you're interested in trying it, here are a few apps to check out.