By Autumn McGowan
Web Content Assistant Manager
February is undoubtedly the month of love. We rush online to make our flower purchases for our loved one, stock up on chocolate and binge rom-coms.
Around this time, it’s almost impossible to escape the theme that Valentine’s Day is a day for romantic pairs. While this is true to an extent, during the month of love it’s important to highlight relationships that may not fit into the societal standard of what love can look like.
Society tends to purposely look past non-traditional relationships. They are seen as a kind of taboo because they differ from the norm. But non-traditional relationships have technically been around longer than traditional ones, with non-monogamy dating all the way back to B.C.E.. In fact, there are several examples of famous non-traditional relationships throughout history.
Non-traditional relationships come in many forms such as platonic partnerships, ethical non-monogamy, polyamory, polygamy and more. The list goes on and on and is just as layered and complex as the human desire for love and connection.
Here are just a few examples of different types of non-traditional relationships.
Platonic partnerships are relationships between two or more people that have all the closeness and emotional intimacy of a couple without a sexual component. Platonic life partners may or may not share a home, finances and children, but they commonly do share a commitment to building a future together.
Polyamory literally means many (poly) loves (amory). If someone is polyamorous, whether they are in a partnership or not, they recognize that in themselves they can feel strong romantic feelings for more than one person at a time. Within polyamory, there are several different variations such as non-hierarchal, solo, parallel, kitchen table, vee and more.
Polyamory falls under the umbrella of ethical non-monogamy, which means that in any polyamorous arrangement, an emphasis is placed on constant communication and consent with all partners.
The basis of ethical non-monogamy is that in a relationship between two people, each person can seek relationships with others outside of the primary one. While polyamory is considered ethical non-monogamy, not all ethically non-monogamous people are polyamorous.
In an ethically non-monogamous relationship, open and honest communication is vital between primary partners.
A relationship sans monogamy or romance is just as valid and beautiful as a traditional relationship. For some, non-traditional relationships are a way of life. Others experience them as an orientation akin to sexuality and feel non-traditional love is a part of their identity whether they are in a relationship or not.
Non-traditional love takes work just as traditional relationships do, but the underlying goal in a non-traditional relationship is the pursuit of love, understanding and care without the burden of conventional boundaries. In a Meet Mindful interview Laurie Ellington, polyamory and open relationship counselor says, “Whether you practice monogamy or polyamory (or anything else), the practice is more about how we navigate through life and through our relationships. It’s about how we stay true and honor ourselves while staying in connection with those around us.”
No matter how you express or experience love, Happy Valentine’s Day!
Featured Image by Autumn McGowan
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