Disclaimer: I am not a professional! If you want to find a professional sex educator please look at my "Resources" page. If you have any questions, feel free to ask on my ask site: FYsexeducationquestions, though check out my FAQ first!
Every relationship is different. Every person’s views on relationships are different. This is why communication is very important. Especially in this day and age where people feel free to not be stuck in the stigma that you have to find one person to give yourself to fully and never ever separate and get married and have 2.5 children and a puppy and a white picket fence (although if you want that or any variation of, I wish you the best of luck… You’ll probably need it). You need to have a conversation with any prospective partner up front about what you want from your encounter. It might take a while, but you’ll find someone who has similar views as you (or is willing to compromise or try out your ideals).
The first thing that you must discuss is “What counts as cheating for you?” Some people think loving another person or just spending a lot of time with them can count as cheating, while others think only kissing or sex is cheating. Some people say “You can do anything but-” and put a limit on what kind of sexual activity you can partake in. Some think it’s okay as long as there is protection or no emotional attachment. Other people count a certain gender of partner as not cheating. Only agree to whatever you’re comfortable with. If someone can’t agree to your terms or you don’t feel comfortable with their terms it might not be a good fit for you.
For some people, multiple partners provide a spice to their sex life. It might be a one time thing or a repeated act of hooking up with other couples or a third party for sex. This can be referred to as “Swinging”. Sometimes there will be a certain sex act that one partner is into (like BDSM) that another isn’t comfortable with so they may let the other visit someone else to fulfill those desires. They may put a condition that they have to be present at the time or they may not want to even hear about the encounter.
That all depends on your perception of monogamy. What if you don’t want to be monogamous at all? Nonmonogamy is when monogamy is not part of your relationship. This can encompass many different things. There are people who identify as Polyamorous (although this is a misnomer, poly is greek and amor is latin. I just haven’t come across an appropriate term for it). Polyamorous, generally speaking, is the ability to feel love and affection for more than one person. There are lots of different types of polyamorous relationships. There are people with multiple significant others or partners. If their partners are also Poly they could have their own multiple S/O. Some groups decide to all be together, while some keep their relationships separate. It’s a good idea to make sure everyone can at least get along. It’s also imperative to make sure the lines of communication are kept open. Polyamorous relationships can still involve jealousy, it just depends on how well you deal with it.
Some polyamorous people like to keep it more casual. They might be involved with open relationships where both partners are allowed to do as they wish- as long as they come back to each other at the end. Some people have friends-with-benifits type situations, where they just develop intimate relationships with people they are already close to. In a nonmonogamous relationship, feelings may not be a part of some of your relationships. Polyamory always involves love and feelings, but not with nonmonogamy. Nonmonogamous people may not love any or all of their partner and one or more of there relationships are based solely on sex or other strong emotions.
What if sex isn’t even part of the relationship? There are a lot of people who are Asexual. Some Asexual people still have intimate relationships though they feel no need to have sex. Sometimes they even take part in sex though it might not be one of their desires. A lot of asexuals aren’t taken seriously, and that’s not cool. Don’t feel pressured to do anything you’re not interested in or don’t like. If you just want to cuddle, just cuddle!
What if sex is the only part of the relationship? It’s fine to have casual sex, as long as you use contraceptives. You don’t have to commit to anyone, just go out and have fun if that’s what you enjoy.
There are many types of relationships, no way I could touch on them all in one post. Each relationship is unique and is up for you and any partners you may have to decide on boundaries. Always tell partners what you’re comfortable with and what you want from the relationship. Continue with it until it stops being fun and beneficial to you. Sometimes you’ll need to reevaluate what you want from relationships and your ideals may change. Always feel secure enough to let your partner know and try something else if the need arises.