This is a good reporting of the study various behaviors that can show up, and/but I feel like this article left out the huge elephant in the room......engaging in clandestine behavior EVEN THOUGH there are no "rules" or other limiting constructs to prevent the person from doing so OPENLY and HONESTLY.

The examples you offer all reference the assumption of agreed upon rules/limiting constructs/negotiations. Many poly folk do not engage in these things, but - rather - recognize everyone's birthright to decide what they do with their own heart and body. The baseline definition of ethical non-monogamy (with the exception of swinging...or swing-like behavior) is that it dispenses with sexual and romantic exclusivity, while maintaining the value of being open and honest. ANY sexual/romantic behavior that does not hold that value is potentially "cheating" within this context.

Here are some examples of "cheating" I have experienced within the context of non-monogamy without limiting constructs established in order to control a person or situation:

* After an initial contact, multiple subsequent contacts employed for the purpose of "courting", where existing partners are left totally in the dark, until a date is actually about to happen.

* Getting together with romantic interests, without informing existing partners either before OR after doing so.

* Bringing a "date" to an already planned date with a partner at a social gathering, and hoping that neither one of them figure out that's what's happening. (Yeah...this happened....and it did not end well for the guy...the woman and I both broke up with him within a week and are really good friends now

* Not using barrier methods for sex, and failing to tell existing partners of that fact, before being sexual with them.

* Hiding the depth of feelings truly present other relationships.....essentially keeping partners in the dark about what's real.

* Engaging in highly sensual and/or sexual behavior in a workshop, and withholding that information from intimate partners. (I'm thinking specifically of workshops like "HAI" that ask participants to not reveal what they did there....yet they claim to be "poly-friendly"...some poly folk use this as a "get out of ethics" free card in relation to being fully honest with their partners.)

I realize that these things could fall under "hiding and lying" but they are SO common (I suspect the most common forms of cheating within CNM) that I think they deserve some clear enumeration.....partly because the narcissists who engage in that type of behavior seem to really need specific behaviors spelled out...otherwise they rationalize what they are doing, and in general don't "grok" vague references to the type of behavior we're speaking of.

I also want to touch on the way you're using the word "boundaries" here. If a couple has some sort of agreed upon limits regarding their behavior with others, that's not a "boundary". It's a "limiting construct/rule/control agreement". Boundaries (as intended within CNM culture particularly) are the physical, emotional and mental limits we establish to protect ourselves from being manipulated, used, or violated by others. They allow us to separate who we are, and what we think and feel, from the thoughts and feelings of others.


"You may not kiss her on the lips." **Limiting Construct**

"You may not kiss me on the lips." **Boundary**

Boundaries tell people what they can do with and to us and our possessions (and a person is not a possession). They do not tell others what they can do with other people and their possessions.

We often have people in discussion groups abusing the concept of boundaries by "yelling" things like, "She violated my boundaries when she slept over with her lover!!!" she didn't. She may have violated what you wanted her to do, but she did not violate *your* boundaries. Since boundaries are a crucial part of "consent culture" education - In the realm of poly awareness, education and relationship coaching - we feel this distinction is extremely important.....critical actually. And while it could be argued that people can form "boundaries" around their relationship, the whole concept of doing so is extremely couple-centric, an abuse of couple-privilege and not consistent with the whole idea that we are all self-sovereign individuals, who have a right to agency and self-determination. So again.....boundaries are personal, and controls regarding another person's behavior are "barriers/limiting constructs".