Consensual Non-Monogamy, Polyamory + Open Relationships: What’s The Difference?

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What Is An Open Relationship?

Woman kissing girlfriend at home seen through ring light

Source: Westend61 / Getty

An open relationship is one of the more simple forms of consensual non-monogamy. This arrangement consists of a primary couple, and each person within the couple is free to explore sexual experiences with people outside of their relationship. However, those encounters do not develop into relationships or become anything beyond sexual. That is the idea behind an open relationship – external encounters are purely physical. Of course, keeping outside encounters purely sexual can be easier said than done.

Sometimes open relationships are spoken about interchangeably with swinging. The main difference, however, is that swinging is done as an organized, group activity, wherein a primary couple attends an event with other couples looking to have sexual experiences outside of their relationship.

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