A friend was swiping on a dating app looked up to ask me what the acronym “ENM” meant and why it was on so many profiles on profiles. ENM stands for Ethical Non-Monogamy, an umbrella term for a range of relationship types of multiple consensual sexual relationships that includes polyamory, polyfidelity, open relationships, polygamy, being monogamish, and probably more.
ENM can take many forms, such as having multiple long-term partners, having a primary partner while dating secondary partners, or being part of a group relationship. Everyone’s experience with ENM will be different and there is no one “right” way to practice it.
Whether or not you choose to explore ENM, either on your own or with a partner(s), it’s good to know both the positives and negatives.
Read more: How To Navigate A Polyamorous Relationship
The Benefits of ENM
Proponents of ENM say it offers benefits that you just can’t get from a traditional monogamous relationship: you can expand your love, experience more variety, deepen communication, and learn about yourself and your desires.
Expanded Love & Self-Acceptance
Love is unlimited, so it can feel restrictive to some people to focus all their love on only one person. With ENM, you get to have multiple loving and supportive partners to experience different types of relationships and dynamics with different partners. This can lead to a greater sense of self-awareness and self-acceptance as you learn more about what you truly desire in a partner.
Stepping Out of Societal Norms
Another benefit of polyamory is that it allows for greater flexibility in relationships. In a traditional monogamous relationship, there can be a lot of pressure to conform to societal norms and expectations. With polyamory, you get to create your own rules and relationships that work for you and your partners.
Honesty And Communication
ENM requires communication, transparency, and honesty. This can be challenging, especially at first, but with practice, improves your communication across all relationships.
The Challenges & Risks of ENM
The most obvious and prevalent challenge of ENM is jealousy and envy. When you have multiple romantic partners, it can be easy to compare and contrast them, which can lead to feelings of insecurity and inadequacy. And, if everyone involved isn’t on the same page about the nature of the relationships, it can lead to misunderstandings and hurt feelings.
ENM also requires you to manage your time and energy. Coordinating schedules and finding time for everyone can be a logistical nightmare. When you have multiple partners, it can be difficult to give each person the attention and care they need and deserve.
Then there is the physical risks: STIs and STDs. More partners means more chances of contracting or spreading sexually transmitted infections and diseases. When you have multiple partners, it’s important to practice safe sex and communicate openly about sexual health.
Is ENM Right for You?
Do you believe in the principles of open communication, honesty, and consent that are central to polyamorous relationships?
How do you handle Jealousy and Envy? Do you have healthy self-esteem? If you have a tendency to feel jealous or possessive in relationships, polyamory may not be the best choice for you.
If you are single, you have a lot more freedom to explore ENM. If you’re already in a committed relationship, it’s important to have open and honest conversations with your partner before exploring polyamory. If both partners are open to the idea, then it’s worth exploring.
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