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Forms of nonmonogamy

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Nonmonogamy is a blanket term covering several different types of interpersonal relationship in which some or all participants have multiple marital, sexual, and/or romantic partners. It is contrasted with monogamy

Forms of nonmonogamy include:

  • consensual nonmonogamy, in which a nonmonogamous relationship is formed by mutual consent of those involved
  • group marriage (also termed polygynandry), in which several people form a single family unit, with all considered to be married to one another
  • group sex and orgies involving more than two participants at the same time
  • infidelity, in which one participant fails to comply with expectations of monogamy
  • Line families, a form of group marriage intended to outlive its original members by ongoing addition of new spouses
  • ménage à trois, a sexual (or sometimes domestic) arrangement involving three people
  • plural marriage, a form of polygyny associated with the 19th-century Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and with present-day splinter groups from that faith
  • polyamory, in which participants have multiple romantic partners
  • polyandry, in which women have multiple husbands
  • PolyFamilies, similar to group marriage, but some members may not consider themselves married to all other members
  • polyfidelity, in which participants have multiple partners but restrict sexual activity to within a certain group
  • polygamy, a term encompassing both polygyny and polyandry
  • polygyny, in which men have multiple wives
  • open marriage and open relationships, in which one or both members of a committed couple are sexually active with other partners
  • swinging, similar to open relationships, but commonly conducted as an organised social activity

As can be seen from this list, the Greek prefix 'poly-' (meaning 'many') is often used in naming nonmonogamous forms of relationship. In informal use such names are sometimes abbreviated to just 'poly', with the rest indicated by context.

Many nonmonogamous terms are flexible in definition, because they are based on criteria such as 'relationship' or 'love' that are themselves variably defined; see discussions at their respective pages for more detail on individual forms. In addition, usage creates distinctions beyond the raw definitions of the words. Thus, even though some relationships might technically be considered both polygamous and polyamorous, 'polygamy' usually signifies a codified form of multiple marriage, based on established religious teachings, while 'polyamory' is based on the preferences of the participants rather than established precedent.

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