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This is how you can navigate your polyamorous relationship this Valentine's Day

How to navigate ethical non-monogamy (romantic relationships between multiple people who all know about each other) on Valentine's Day

A sex and relationships expert tells GLAMOUR everything you need to know.

This Valentine's Day, if you're celebrating, there are many ways to go about it. Solo, with friends, with a monogamous partner.

But what if you're partaking in an ethical non-monogamous relationship (or plural?), or are thinking about doing so?

It's difficult sometimes to know best how to navigate Valentine's Day, which is often marketed as a romantic event for couples, as it can feel like it immediately excludes people who might be exploring something outside of a monogamous relationship.

GLAMOUR has pulled together a complete guide:

What ethical non-monogamy is (and what it isn't)

According to Psych Central, it involves “sexual and/or romantic relationships between multiple people”. What is key is that although these relationships are co-existing separately, all partners have consented to this situation and all know about each other.

It is an umbrella term for a range of relationships – with polyamory being one of them. Polyamory is defined by having intimate relationships with multiple people at the same time, and polygamy refers to marriage or a commitment between multiple people. An open relationship is also a type of ethical non-monogamous relationship, but it's important to stress that not all ethical non-monogamous relationships are open.

It is NOT the same as infidelity, or general non-monogamy. This is because it's based on consent and an ethical approach to dating multiple people.

“The critical words here are ethical and consensual non-monogamy,” Kate Moyle, sex and relationship expert says. “Whilst infidelity can happen in any relationship set up when one, both or all partners don't keep to the agreed relationship boundaries – infidelity and ethical non-monogamy are completely different entities.”

It isn't without its challenges.

“Non-monogamous relationships can face many of the same challenges as monogamous relationships – challenges in communication, misunderstandings, feelings of jealousy or rejection, sexual challenges and navigating the different stages and phases that relationships go through,” Kate says.

“What is a core component of ethical non-monogamy is the clarity of communication around the relationship set up, how much or little partners share about additional partnerships and what every partner's personal boundaries are.”

Here are Kate's top tips for navigating ethical non-monogamy:

Be transparent about plans

Planning and communication are important factors in all relationships but become more important with an increase in the number of people involved. Making sure everyone is aware of plans is important for nobody feeling unintentionally sidelined or de-prioritised, and so prior agreement around arrangements is key if you are celebrating Valentine's.

Celebrations for Valentine's don't always have to happen on the day either, and there are specific events for multi-partner relationships such as Lelo's restaurant for throuples which took place last year.

Decide if you need a code of conduct

Some partners have transparency, and others have a “don't ask don't tell” approach to their relationships – there is a huge scale of variability and only you and your partners can decide what's best for you.

It can be important to check in with each other about this for something like a specific celebration or event, so that you don't get stuck in the trap of comparing between partners, as often different partnerships also enjoy different things and each relationship is unique.

Don't put too much pressure on it

A part of this is about communicating expectations – and remembering that opportunity to show love and affection doesn't have to revolve around a set day or more publicly recognised diary date such as Valentine's.

It may be that it's a really important celebration for one partner and not for the other, and so it can be an easier decision about who to spend the actual day with or that you need to set your own Valentine's dates for separate partners.

Appreciation isn't date dependent

Much of what is publicised about Valentine's Day is that it's to showcase love, affection and appreciation and there are many ways that we can do this.

If you aren't spending the day with one of your partners, then you can find ways to show your other partner/s that they are important to you – often it's not what we do, but the thought and feeling that we feel are behind something that is most important, which is why the little gestures can mean so much.

Original article appeared on GLAMOUR UK

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