non monogamous relationship

Franklin Veaux’s Great Map of Non-Monogamous Relationships


Starting from our early childhood we try on grown-ups’ rights and features, dressing up in big-size clothes and putting make-up or shaving foam on the face. Yet if we consider the case from the position of adults themselves, their most significant rights shall be the liberty of choice in building life by their own rules. The development pattern of a society in that any decision referring to person is taken by someone else can be seen in the novel 1984 or The Lobster movie. Mocking the community in the film, we must admit that the basic difference between their society and that of ours is the freedom to choose what way to live and whom to sleep with.

Just like in case of religion, a bank to open an account with and a city to live in, our form of romantic and sexual relationships is often inherited from our parents. Our first relationships in most cases trace those of our parents’ and their ideas about arrangement of sexual interactions. Yet the statistics of infidelities and divorces impertinently suggests that the form of relationships adopted from parents does not work.

The freedom of choice requires the variety of options. With just one variant of relationships available, our only acquisition shall be the right of “not choosing”, or getting a ready-made plan of our own life. Learning about manifold forms of romantic and sexual relationships may set us free from that “not to choose” option and give an opportunity to set up the plan independently.

Franklin Veaux’s encyclopedia of non-monogamous relationships

In 2010 Franklin Veaux, a truly experienced polyamorist and author of the polyamory blogcomplemented his blog with a map of non-monogamous relationships, displaying interdependence and intersection between different types of romantic ties. The elaboration of the map was greatly facilitated by his extensive communication with alternative relationships practitioners. Mixing in with the said community, Franklin managed to gather statistics on the most popular types of non-monogamous relationships and set a system of interconnections between different types of bonds.

The map of Franklin Veaux incorporates almost all currently described forms of non-monogamous relationships between people (except monogamish). We suggest our version of his map reading, complementing it with other forms of sexual and partner relationships that we know and not confining ourselves to non-monogamous relationships only.

We propose that the basic principle of relationship types division is adopted in compliance with their hereditary character: the traditional relationships (that children are taught by their parents) vs the alternative ones (established within the conditions of today’s reality and by desires of their creators).

Traditional relationships

The relationships that run in the family. The term ‘traditional’ refers to relationships that prevail in a given culture, like monogamy in Europe, America and most of the civilized world.

But today a good deal of monogamous couples practice serial monogamy. Moreover, a large section of modern society live in the realm of non-consensual non-monogamy (i.e. one of the partners or both of them have additional sexual relationships without a consent from the primary partner) that we also know as infidelity.

Traditional polyandry or monothely is not popular now, but one can come across it in Africa, Asia, Oceania, in Inuit and in the South America.

Polygamy or plural marriage is widely spread in Muslim states and in African countries. This is a type of relationships that was practiced by most of our great-grand-grandparents, thus it can be safely assumed traditional for all those whose DNA contains at least some elements of oriental blood.

Alternative relationships, or consensual non-monogamy

This category includes all kinds of relationships that did not exist traditionally:). Or those that did - but long time ago, so that they had been forgotten and reinvented during the recent 100 years. Elusive is the memory of the mankind: we remember our life and the things shared with us by our parents who are known to remember much but to conceal from their children even more of it. So that our reinventing a wheel in relationships and their forms becomes as easy as winking – for the amusement of our clam ancestors.

Both terms we see in the subtitle were introduced by fast-moving sexology. By the way, the participants of these ‘newly-invented’ types of relationships do not refer to themselves using these fine words but coin more convenient and succinct terms that only people within the subculture can understand. Still the insatiable curiosity of bloggers and sex-evangelists completed with desire to share their knowledge result in these words’ “coming out” from the alternative subculture and becoming knowable outside.

Monogamish relationships

The phase of transition from traditional relationships to alternative ones begets those who are still in the process of deciding. The intimate relationships that are no longer traditional but have not yet become alternative have their title and many adherents. This type of relationships is based on monogamy that was not given to us by will. These are monogamish relationships.  

The specific feature of monogamish relationships lies in the fact that partners are basically monogamous but they admit by mutual consent some exceptions regarding their fidelity. This category includes people who live in compliance with the don't ask – don't tell principle and those who observe the 100 miles rule (the rule of fidelity works unless one of the partners leaves farther than 100 miles), those who go to swing clubs together to watch someone having sex or let others watch the intercourse of their couple. One can say such couples have not yet decided on the issue of what form of relationships they want, but have realized monogamy in its traditional sense to be definitely not for them; those who are at the stage of experimenting and creating their own rules.

Defining open relationships

Open relationships or Open marriage with their subtypes - Polyamory and Swing - are more manifold in terms of sex beyond the couple.

Open relationships and Open marriage are two umbrella terms embracing both swing relationships that deal more with sex, and polyamory that refers more to feelings and crushes. Definition of open relationships is possible only through negation – they leave no room for monogamy and obsession with one partner only.


The notion of polyamory continues to extend, develop and modify, having already engendered such subforms as closed groups polyamory (polifidelity) and Unicorn Poly – the relationships in that a polyamorous couple is open only to one or several persons united by complicated promises. The “Commitments” of a unicorn include that of not breaking up the couple, not claiming more attention than other participants of the relationships do and so on. With the set of promises being so intricate, the right person is sometimes difficult to find, hence comes the weird nickname.


The relationships of swing type take pride of place in alternative forms of relationships. It’s like a swing with state of rest meaning “both partners are together” and extremes implying partners enjoy sex with other partners. For instance, swingers may act as unicorns in other couples.

Soft swing stays far from its swing “parent”. Soft swingers take the liberty of having sex with others only in their dreams or ‘by eyeing’, thus they are normally referred to monogamish couples since they have already admitted their non-monogamy but have so far failed to do anything in this respect).

Swing may also be practiced in close groups. Such relationships differ from polyamory by low level of emotional engagement with the third partners. After all, swing is about sex.

More about swing and swingers – in article Dating Swingers and Learning Their Lifestyle.

BDSM relationships

The most weird and interesting kind of alternative relationships is the relationships of BDSM type. They are also the most clandestine ones. The adherents of thematic relations keep secrets about their life nuances, so that only some of them become public – and are made storylines of the films like SecretaryStory of O.Story of O.II. One dominant may have several “submissives” who in their turn may act as swingers or polyamorists in other couples, stay in other types of open relationships or conceal their sexual liaisons from the primary partners, thus contributing to global statistics of intimate infidelities.

More about BDSM-kink – in article Sex In Old Times – First Kinksters’ Predilections.

Boundaries become blurred in the diversity of forms

The intersection of all relationships on Franklin Veaux’s map is not a coincidence. Man enjoys creating: everyone strives to establish one’s own rules and find individual type of interaction. Thus if you want to be and to act as a polyamorist while your partner prefers being a swinger, and you are able to negotiate different rules within one couple, then who are you? How can a couple that features a polyamorist and a swinger be referred to? Polyswing? Mixed type? An exact scheme, a one and only cell of the hive that your relationships shall perfectly fit into once and forever does not exist.

The map of Franklin Veaux shows the variety of forms and their transformation under different terms and conditions. It is just a marker, a beacon that demonstrates the absence of clear-cut boundaries that subject to thorough consideration shall be washed away by one form’s transformation into another, so that both you and your partner live the way you want, and do it by your own rules. The map is for those who think there is one “proper” type of relationships while all the rest are “of evil”.  

At that point we shall accompany our farewell to the era of monogamous relationships by quoting Arthur Miller who said that

An era can be considered over when its basic illusions have been exhausted.