What the Hell is This Poly I Keep Hearing About!?

In this intro to Consensual Non-Monogamy, Dr. Yoni will tell you about the types of alternative relationships out there, share some concepts of how they work, and will give you some tips to take into your monogamy that would enhance your relationship.

What the Hell is This Poly I Keep Hearing About!?

What the Hell is This Poly I Keep Hearing About!?

What the Hell is This Poly I Keep Hearing About!?

2 minute read

Just because monogamy is conventional doesn’t mean it’s necessarily right for you. To figure out what type of relationship suits you, get a clear sense of the options. 

In this stream, Dr. Yoni Alkan, a doctor of human sexuality, explains various types of consensual non-monogamous (CNM) relationships. 

There’s a huge range of CNM options if monogamy isn’t right for you. That’s because every relationship has its own set of rules and boundaries — even if it has a no-rules rule. One person’s definition of a successful relationship may be different from another’s, and there’s no one-size-fits-all relationship structure — despite what society might have us believe. 

Here are four CMS categories to  consider (though there are many more): 

1. Swinging

This is when partners choose, as a couple, to engage in sexual activities with others. This could be a threesome, a partner swap with another couple, a sex party, etc. Swinging can also be a community and lifestyle where people play within the same group. 

2. Open Relationships 

This is when a couple agrees it’s okay to have sexual contact with people outside the relationship. This “takes the sting of cheating out of the sexual act.” This can sometimes help strengthen the bond between partners as they may feel compersion rather than jealousy. Compersion is feeling pleasure from another person’s pleasure.

This type of relationship can also help partners seek physical attention they aren’t receiving inside the relationship. For example, a bi person partnered with a straight person may want to be with a person of the same gender. 

3. Polyamory 

Polyamory involves relationships — not just sexual contact — with other people.  There are many different constellations of polyamory, but essentially it is based on the idea that there is an abundance of love in the world, and there’s no need to limit romantic love to one partner. 

4. Relationship Anarchy 

This is when a person doesn’t want to define a relationship with conventional terms, such as boyfriend, girlfriend, husband or wife. They may come up with their own terms, or use no terms at all. 

There are so many different types of CNM relationships and what works for you now, may not work for you in two years. It’s one big experimental process that hopefully involves tons of communication and reflection between you and your partner(s).

Dr. Yoni Alkan

Reviewed for Medical Accuracy

Dr. Yoni, DHS, seeks to do his part to improve our dating landscape as well as to share his knowledge of consent culture and alternative relationships through O.school live streams and beyond. Yoni facilitates individual cuddling sessions as well as cuddle parties in San Francisco. He speaks about human sexuality around the world and has been writing about sex and relationships since 2011.

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