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  • Writer's pictureMelisa De Seguirant

Managing Information Sharing in Ethical Non-Monogamy


How do you decide how much information to share about your other relationships with your partners? Do you talk about your relationship dynamics with your friends? How about your family? How much detail do you provide? Why?


The following definition of ethical non-monogamy is central to this week’s exploration:

“The practice of simultaneously having multiple sexual or romantic partners, where everyone involved is aware of and consents to the relationship structure”

- Jessica Fern, Polysecure (2020)


“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”

I DISCOURAGE use of this language to describe information boundaries in open relationship structures. The phrase has roots in homophobia in the military, and is steeped in disgust, shame and intolerance. Is this really the energy we want to bring into our relationships? Ethically non-monogamous people are already stigmatized enough. We can use better language to describe how communication works in our relationships.


In order for everyone involved to truly be aware of the relationship structure and be able to consent to it, SOME communication is necessary. A kitchen-table model is NOT the goal of non-monogamy, and will simply not work for every relationship system. That said, you can still maintain privacy and respect boundaries while providing baseline information to your partners!

Scroll through the following ideas to get you started


Non-verbal communication ~

What are you NOT saying? Are you being elusive? What does your energy / body-language say? What does your presence or lack thereof say? What does it communicate to a partner if you constantly change schedules on them? What if you constantly hound for details? What if you interrupt their dates? What if you overshare about your dates when you partner has set and reinforced boundaries around that information?

Managing the meaning-making your partners are doing may not be your responsibility, but understanding that your actions do communicate something is. Conscientious partners are mindful of the impact of their actions on their partners and the others in the relational system.



In the diagram below, person A is dating both person B and person C. Person A is the “hinge” in the relational unit … the person in the middle.

Person A (hinge person)

        /              \

Person B     Person C

The hinge person is uniquely positioned to make or break the security in a non-monogamous system. Although all parties involved contribute to the overall quality of the system, the hinge person carries the sole responsibility of communicating the relational structure and existing agreements at the onset of dating

The hinge’s initial communication with new partners becomes the baseline for communication moving forward. It sets the tone for what to expect in terms of information sharing, and either builds a foundation of security or creates mistrust from the start. 

How and when various elements of the relationship structure and agreements are shared will vary to some extent. That said, err on the side of transparency as much as possible to ensure everyone involved is aware of and consenting to the dynamic from the jump.


TRIANGULATION in a nutshell ~

In family systems theory, triangulation occurs when a third party is recruited in to assist in the midst of conflict between two individuals. In the theoretical version of the dynamic, the person who brings in the third party is thought of as “the victim”, and the third party effectively becomes the “rescuer”. The other person involved by default is “the perpetrator”, though understand this terminology used in this context serves only to demonstrate the theoretical concept of triangulation.

TRIANGULATION in ethical non-monogamy ~

There is a trap that is easy to fall into in open relationships; using one (or more) of our partnerships to process our conflict and dissatisfaction in our other relationships. When we find ourselves on the creating or receiving end of triangulation, we need to be aware of how our actions impact the rest of the relational unit. Metamour dynamics regularly become strained and severed because of unchecked triangulating done by the hinge partner. 

Instead of pulling someone else in, systems theory advocates for direct conflict resolution between the two individuals. That said, ongoing issues in any of the relationships within the system WILL ultimately impact everyone involved, and there comes a point where critical information does need to be shared.

What is that point? How can we continue to be transparent with all of our partners while mindful of the impacts of triangulation? 

These are great questions to be journaling about and discussing during your relationship check-ins.

What are YOUR ideas? Leave them in the comments below!

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