Readers of The Casual Sex Project have come across the phrase “consensual non-monogamy” more than once. Whether in connection with Dr. Zhana’s Hooking Up Healthy workshops or just through reading the scintillating stories, you’ve probably wondered about consensual non-monogamy (CNM), what it is, how it works, and whether it might be right for you. (Note: we use the term “consensual non-monogamy” to emphasize good communication and consent but you may also see the terms “responsible non-monogamy” or “ethical non-monogamy” used interchangeably with CNM across the resources below.)
The image above by Franklin Veaux illustrates most types of non-monogamy. And there are a lot! For a great definition, we like what Justin Lehmiller said in his article, How Common Is Consensual Non-Monogamy?
“Consensually non-monogamous (CNM) relationships are those in which all of the partners involved agree that having sexual and/or romantic relationships with other persons is acceptable.”
So how do you learn about the different types of CNM and discover whether CNM is right for you? How do you even start having a conversation with a partner, or several partners, about changing a relationship from a monogamous one to a consensually non-monogamous one? We’re here to help.
Below we’ve listed some steps to help you learn about consensual non-monogamy. Armed with these resources, you can decide whether CNM is something you want to try and how to go about trying it. If you have other resources you think we should include, tell us in the comments!
1. Watch videos of The Casual Sex Project founder, and sex-researcher Dr. Zhana explaining consensual non-monogamy. These were created as part of a larger series about CNM for Mangu TV’s film Monogomish. Watch the first video below and catch the full series here.
2. Attend a Find Your Nonmonogamy Style workshop led by Dr. Zhana and/or Kenneth Play. Dr. Zhana has a unique 5-step process for designing your ideal non-monogamous relationship. We always announce these workshops so stay tuned and take one in-person to learn these five steps and ask questions in-person. You can also attend Dr. Zhana’s talk, Myths and Realities of Consensual Non Monogamy in NYC on April 22, 2016 as part of the AltSex conference.
3. Read and listen to Dan Savage, author of the Savage Love column and creator of the Savage Lovecast. He has written and spoken extensively on the value of CNM as a way to preserve long-term, loving relationships. Surprised? Curious how non-monogamy could support romantic and sexual love? Read his famous column from 2012, Monogomish, with stories from many different people practicing CNM in different ways. Savage weighs the pros and cons of monogamy versus a monogamish relationship in this video.
4. Read The 12 Steps to CNM by the More is Merrier blog staff and explore the rest of the website. (Note: These steps are just suggestions!)
5. Read everything! Here are some books that focus on or include information on CNM. If you order the from The Pleasure Chest, be sure to use code DRZHANA when you checkout for 15% off.
- The Ethical Slut: A Practical Guide to Polyamory, Open Relationships & Other Adventures
- Opening Up: A Guide to Creating and Sustaining Open Relationships
- More than Two: A Practical Guide to Ethical Non-Monogamy
- Love Unlimited: The Joys and Challenges of Open Relationships
- Sex at Dawn: How We Mate, Why We Stray, and What It Means for Modern Relationships
- The Jealousy Workbook: Exercises and Insights for Managing Open Relationships
- Designer Relationships: A Guide to Happy Monogamy, Positive Polyamory, and Optimistic Open Relationships
6. Explore the vast number of websites about CNM. These are just a few we recommend.
- Open and Awesome
- Opening Up
- More than Two
- Loving More
- Our Open Agreement (an open relationship contract creator)
- PolyChat (also has a podcast)
- Multiamory (also has a podcast)
Any resources we missed? Share them below!