Ethical Non-Monogamy After Betrayal | Advice

Photo via Adobe.

I have been with my husband for four years, and he recently asked me about opening up our relationship. I was a little surprised by this because we are healing from infidelity, and it feels like this is a way for him to have his cake and eat it too. I am not really understanding how we can approach this in an ethical way. Can opening a relationship after infidelity be considered a form of ENM?

Ethical Non-Monogamy (ENM) is a relationship style or orientation. At its core, ENM refers to consensually engaging in intimate and/or romantic connections with multiple partners, all parties involved fully aware and in agreement with the arrangement. However, understanding what constitutes ENM versus other relationship dynamics is crucial for navigating its complexities and potential pitfalls.

ENM encompasses various forms, including polyamory, open relationships, swinging, and relationship anarchy, each with its own set of principles and boundaries. Polyamory involves having multiple emotional and romantic relationships simultaneously, whereas open relationships permit physical intimacy with others while maintaining emotional exclusivity with one's primary partner. Swinging typically involves couples engaging in sexual activities with other couples, often in a recreational context, while relationship anarchy prioritizes autonomy and freedom from societal norms in forming connections.

Contrary to ENM, traditional monogamous relationships prioritize exclusivity, where individuals commit to one partner exclusively. However, opening a relationship after experiencing infidelity might raise questions about whether it aligns with the principles of ENM. In my practice, I work with couples who have experienced infidelity in their relationships and individuals who want to move their relationship from monogamous to non-monogamous. In my experience, it takes a lot of work, vulnerability, and changed behaviors to be able to have an ENM relationship after infidelity. 

Infidelity typically involves breaching trust and violating the established boundaries of a monogamous relationship, often resulting in hurt and betrayal. In contrast, ENM prioritizes transparency, communication, and mutual consent, which are essential for maintaining the integrity of multiple relationships.

Opening a relationship after infidelity can be complex and fraught with challenges. While some couples may explore non-monogamy as a means of addressing underlying issues or fulfilling unmet needs, it's crucial to distinguish between opening up with mutual consent and attempting to repair trust damaged by infidelity.

In cases where both partners genuinely desire exploring ENM and are willing to engage in open and honest communication, it's possible to redefine the relationship dynamics and establish new boundaries. However, attempting to transition from monogamy to ENM solely as a response to infidelity without addressing underlying trust issues and communication breakdowns can exacerbate existing tensions and lead to further relationship turmoil.

Moreover, opening a relationship without addressing the root causes of infidelity may perpetuate patterns of mistrust and insecurity, ultimately undermining the potential for healthy and fulfilling connections with multiple partners.

Ultimately, whether opening a relationship after infidelity aligns with the principles of ENM depends on the context, intentions, and mutual consent of all parties involved. It's essential to approach such transitions with empathy, honesty, and a commitment to fostering trust and understanding among partners.

Ethical Non-Monogamy encompasses a spectrum of relationship styles characterized by consensual, transparent, and communicative engagement with multiple partners. While opening a relationship after infidelity may involve elements of non-monogamous dynamics, it's essential to differentiate between addressing underlying issues and using ENM as a quick fix to repair trust. Prioritizing open communication, mutual consent, and emotional honesty are paramount in navigating the complexities of ethical non-monogamous relationships.

Queerly Beloved is an expertly curated column dedicated to the world of LGBTQ sex, intimacy and relationships that provides education, insights and actionable tips for the reader to enhance their pleasure journey. This column from Kelly Ghweinem, LCSW, will answer questions and provide advice to readers to deepen intimate connections, elevate pleasurable experiences, and empower people. Ghweinem is an established queer-affirming therapist and business owner who champions the LGBTQ+ community through activism and advocacy utilizing a queer, feminist, anti-racist lens. A University at Buffalo graduate, Kelly came to Fort Lauderdale from Manhattan in 2022.

For more information on their practice, visit

The advice offered in this column is intended for informational purposes only. Use of this column is not intended to replace or substitute any financial, medical, legal, or other professional advice.


Phone: 954-514-7095
Hours: Monday - Friday 9AM - 2PM


2520 N. Dixie Highway,
Wilton Manors, FL 33305



Got a juicy lead or story idea? Let us know!



Out South Florida

Hello from OutSFL! We hope you'll consider donating to us. Starting a business can be a scary prospect, but with your support so far, we've had tremendous success. Thank you!

donate button