Counselling for Ethical Polyamory and Non-Monogamous Styles of Relationships

Monogamy is generally assumed to be the way relationships are supposed to be due to social conditioning and many cultural beliefs. While having only one romantic relationship at a time is common, many individuals seek an alternative relationship style.

Polyamory is one such alternative style of relationship, in which a person chooses to have more than one romantic relationship at a time and where each person involved is consenting and encouraging to the open style of relationship. Polyamory is relationship orientated rather than sex orientated and differs from infidelity whereby people practice open and honest communication about their orientation, preferences, and relationship needs. People who choose to become part of a polyamorous relationship consent to the relationship style. If one partner(s) does not know about another partner(s) then it is not polyamory. Polyamory also differs from swinging due to the focus being on the relationship rather than the more casual and sexual orientated style of swinging.

With longer human life spans (decades of sexual and emotional exclusivity are increasingly seen as unrealistic), high divorce rates and infidelity among monogamous pairings, and realizing that serial monogamy (a relational pattern of swapping one person for another) is often a choice with poor outcomes, there is a surge of interest in seeking meaningful connections and intimacy that is honesty-based living and loving and accommodates ones authentic relationship needs. The assumed rules and vows of emotional and sexual exclusivity in traditional relationships work for some people, however, for others these conditions are not compatible with their authentic needs in regards to love and connection with others

Many individuals living a polyamorous lifestyle, regardless of their experience, report the relationship style requires a very high level of communication and a commitment to the practice of responsible honesty with their partner(s). For individuals considering this relationship style, honesty and communication will help with each step of the journey. Unfortunately, individuals are not born knowing how to do honesty and communication to the level that is required for a polyamorous relationship. Individuals can also experience;

  • Inadequate problem solving
  • Feelings of guilt and jealously
  • Fear of loss of control and power within relationships
  • Disapproval from family, friends, and mainstream religions
  • Isolation, loneliness, and self-doubt in relation to ones decision to live a polyamorous lifestyle
  • Negotiating division of time and resources between and among individuals in a polyamorous relationship
  • Conversations around sex, safe sex practices, disclosure agreements, and developing respectful boundaries

For individuals considering a polyamorous style of relationship for the first time, raising the idea of non-monogamy in a traditional relationship framework can be anxiety provoking and the discussion can force couples to explore unmet needs and secrets that have been kept for a long time. The ensuing discussions around lifestyle changes and coping with the fallout from opening the discussion can be difficult. As couples consider which form of polyamory suites their needs and they transition into a polyamorous relationship style they typically experience varying degrees of discomfort as an individual and a couple.

The assistance of a psychologist to navigate the pathway of ethical polyamory can help to shorten the span of struggles and work from preventative perspectives. Natalie Slect provides support for individuals, couples, and relationship groups (e.g., Vs, triads, quads, and within group sexual orientation combinations). Natalie is available Monday to Friday. If you would like arrange an appointment please contact Bulimba Psychology on 07 38991455 or email